Sunday, November 13, 2011

Me, Myself, and The Fat Girl's Guide To Life

In a response to my post on the attitude of flirting, a friend of mine took on the ubiquity and ambiguity of the word "Curvy" in an honest and indicting post on her own blog. It is a part of an ongoing body and image based discussion. So, I figured that with a link and the original comment for context we can keep the party rockin’.

Hi, I'm the author of the linked post. And, yes, the word curvy has become ubiquitous. Moreover, a lot of guys do use it as a way to say they like big boobs, without saying they like big boobs. What can I say? Guys are cowards.
Full disclosure, I do like big boobs. Nevertheless, I meant "Curvy," the same way, I believe, that the group creator did. I like real women, and the actresses who come as close to them as the media will allow. Sarah Ramirez (Dr Torres), Jeniffer Hudson (pre-Weight Watchers), Queen Latifa (Anytime and always), Kirstie Alley (circa: Fat Actress), and Brooke Elliott, to name a few.
I debated using "fat." But there are two things that went into my final word choice:
The first I'm a skinny guy. I'm the guy for whom everyone always says, "You never gain weight." And I didn't want to sound like the person who says, "Some of my best friends are ____." 'Cause let's face it, even if it's true, you come off sounding like a dick.
Second, the vice of "Curvy" is also, its virtue. It covers a HUGE range of people and body types. I've said it before, and I mean it every time I say it, I love women. I love the full range of women.
More to come in the further adventures of MoTheThird

The very fleeting and occasional, purely physical, bout with infatuation, notwithstanding, every woman I’ve ever fallen for has one thing in common. Each woman is herself or is on a clear path to becoming her. Sometimes it presents as pure confidence. At others, it’s her unbridled intellectual curiosity. Occasionally, it’s just her mastery of a skill or tenacity in an area. I’ve fallen for globe trotters, newly liberated women with everything on the horizon, warriors in the fight for global justice, stage actresses, nurses, artists, librarians, athletes, and scientists in the course of my years. I have fallen for every skin hue, every body type, glasses, 20/20, snappy dressers, uniforms, even sweat suit chic. I’m just a fan of women on the move.

                        Can we at least try to evaluate beauty on our own terms instead of the terms
                        we’ve decided to accept from Vogue and Hollywood and your aunt Gertrude
                        and the girl who won “Best Booty” in high school? Shouldn’t we teach men
                        to lust for something other than women with little-girl bodies and Playboy
                        Bunny breasts?

OK, so there’s this book (by this woman with whom I might be in love. I have a little problem of falling in love with women who write awesome books), The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life, which is on my top ten “Coolest Books I’ve Ever Read” list. And the above, from the introduction, is one of a number of great declarations in the book. The author, Wendy Shanker, who self describes as, “not a doctor [or] a therapist, [but] a professional ex-dieter with a chip on my shoulder and a mission on my mind,” writes the ultimate expose against… the anti-fat social and industrial complex, in a hilarious work full of scientific fact made accessible for the layperson.

Is everyone uncomfortable yet?
I am. Wendy Shanker, however, is not at all uncomfortable. Actually, she’s a little pissed, because people, “think fat means ‘loserish’ and ‘lame’ and ‘disgusting’ and ‘hopeless.’ But, “fat” she contends, is nothing more than an adjective. So, she’s turning “fat” into “Fat.” 
“Fat girls tell mean people to mind their own business. Fat girls fight back.”

Her work covers many aspects of 21st century United States living. In the complex worlds of fat science, she indicts the medical industrial complex for the distortion of science with the Body Mass Index and a host of other things. Talks about fat media portrayals (their notable absences and just as notable occurrences). She cracks open the trials of dating fat and the realities of fat in bed. Challenges fashion and similar constructions. And she, brilliantly, suggests that skinny people are jealous of the fat people in their lives:
They spend their free time at the gym, they deny themselves the food they want to eat,
they wear shoes that hurt their feet and clothes that restrict their body movement.
Then you come along: jiggle-jiggle-jiggle. Damn you, don’t you understand that just by
your very fat existence you are breaking all the rules! You are like someone who has 
cut into line at the movies.”

I am skinny. I’m of average height. I’m a nerd. And I’m African-American.
Some days I power down egg after egg, crossing my fingers for magic bulk.
Or, cross my fingers for an extra couple of inches.
Or, that I wouldn’t ALWAYS say the nerdiest thing ever.
I want to blend in, and stand out at the same time.
Be something I’m not.
Some days I’m a Fat girl.
Though, I’ll likely revisit this book for a post in the near future, I’d recommend that you pick it up for yourself. But to send us out, I’ll turn again to Wendy:

You can choose to be a mom or an executive or both. You can choose to be happy or
healthy or none of the above. You can choose to be fat or you can choose to be thin or
you can choose to be in the body you’re in today. It’s not about what you choose, it’s
about the fact that you have a choice. So make one. Choose to be yourself. 
And may the results never be typical.