Tagged: body policing bullshit

Talking about labiaplasty

I was emailed the link to this article on the NZ Herald about the rise of labiaplasty.

It’s actually not the absolute-worst article in the world and contains some really good input from Dr Virginia Braun of the University of Auckland and George Christy Parker of Women’s Health Action Trust.  They cover concepts like a lack of good sex education and understanding that our bodies are diverse and unique things.


The only person who’s actually saying labiaplasty is on the rise is Dr Murray Beagley.  Who makes a living performing labiaplasty.  He’s quick to talk about not being judgemental and not enforcing beauty standards … but then he turns around and says “of course if I wasn’t doing labiaplasty there’d be plenty of other surgeries I would be doing” – as though pretty much all of those aren’t part of the same set of beauty standards.

He also keeps slipping into body-judging phrasing, like when he talks about “whether we should prioritise [people] with protruding labia over [people] with pendulous breasts” – i.e. treating protruding labia and pendulous breasts as inherent problems to be solved.

As a person with pendulous breasts:  go fuck yourself, Dr Beagley.

But the thing which most pisses me off, dear readers?

Headline of video: “Labiaplasty: creating the perfect vagina?”

Headline of article: “Vagina surgery on the rise in NZ”

Herald subeditors may find the following diagram helpful.

labia are not vagina

I mean, can anyone actually quantify the amount of irony involved in the Herald publishing a report which talks about a lack of information about what genitals look like without managing to work out that the labia ARE NOT THE SAME FUCKING THING as the vagina?

And why do I have the strangest feeling that an article about testicle-related surgery wouldn’t be headlined “Penis surgery on the rise”?  Or that such an article would never be written in the first place?

If only people felt like they could TALK about the obesity epidemic!

Seriously, that’s the take-home message from this article on the Herald about how terrible it is that children are fat.  You don’t need to click through to find the balanced, definitive science on this, because what more could you possibly need to know than the identity of the first person quoted:

The director of SureSlim New Zealand, Phil Pullin

A scientist and a gentleman if ever there were one.

A major issue I have when I get into arguments about THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC with otherwise critical, analytical people is this:  how do you not see the ridiculous, head-desking contradictions which abound in all “reporting” on this “problem”?

The article starts off talking about putting children as young as 6 on commercial diet programmes – and even Weight Watchers thinks that’s a silly idea, for context.  But then of course there’s the handwringing:

[Phil Pullin, man who runs a programme which puts 6-year-olds on diets] said weight problems among children was an increasing trend.

… [Spokeswoman for Fight the Obesity Epidemic, Dr Robyn Toomath, said “It’s much more that we don’t appreciate the extent of obesity.”

Yet a mere 9 newspaper paragraphs later:

Good Talks speaker on body image Rachel Hansen said children were bombarded with unattainable messages from the media, peers and even their parents that girls should be thin and beautiful and boys strong and muscular to be accepted by society.

“I’ve seen children as young as 3 and 4 saying, ‘I’m too fat, I can’t eat that’.”

Ah, yes, three-year-olds rejecting delicious food.  A clear sign that “we” don’t “appreciate” how terrible a lifetime of fatness is.

And yet so many otherwise-analytical people will immediately jump up to say “oh yes that’s a problem, that’s terrible reporting, that’s a contradiction, but obesity is still a problem.”

It’s like someone’s adapted the script of a terrible sexist two-dimensional sitcom mother:  “Oh sure you like living alone and you love your apartment and your last relationship ended horribly and you’re trying to get comfortable with your own identity, but don’t you think it’s time you found a man?”

Iain Lees-Galloway believes in bad science and blaming poor people

Iain Lees-Galloway, MP for Palmerston North, opened a Burger King store there.

He’s also Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson.

The reaction in our media was completely predictable:  OMG, how dare he promote ~bad foods~, that’s not ~healthy~, he’s ~promoting obesity~.  Iain himself had some cute prepared lines about Burger King being a sometimes food and the company having a ~responsibility~ to ~help people make bad choices~.

After all, obesity is rising!!!!!

Initially, I had a big ol’ post typed out about why this is stupid.  But I really can’t be bothered rehashing the same shit, so here’s the bullet points:

  • obesity figures compiled by the Ministry of Health are based on BMI.  So they’re simply bullshit, even if they did show anything resembling a OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!!!!!11
  • the “poor choices” narrative to explain obesity is sanctimonious assholery
  • poverty
  • ethnicity
  • just a minor aside, just when are the Labour Party going to get the “stop fulfilling the right’s nanny state propaganda by trying to dictate how people live their lives” memo?

Fat pregnant people: automatically doing it rong

I’m going to give the award for Most Contemptible Headline on this story to the Herald, with:

Extremely obese mothers “a scary problem” – expert

with an honorable mention for Stuff’s

Greater risk for obese mums-to-be

I know there are plenty of people out there who are going to say I’m just defensive ’cause I’m fat, or Everyone Knows* being fat is basically a death sentence which is unjustifiably not being carried out this very second.

I merely ask those people to look at statements like:

the survey showed 38 per cent [of “extremely morbidly obese” women] had their labour induced, compared with 21 per cent in the general population, and more than half (52 per cent) had a caesarean delivery, compared with 32 per cent of other pregnant women.

And consider that

a)  “Extremely morbidly obese” is apparently determined by a BMI of over 50 – and BMI is bullshit;

b) There is a growing awareness of the fact that lots of the time, women don’t get the hugest amount of choice in having their labour induced, or caesarean deliveries.  Are you honestly going to sit there and tell me that none of this group of 370 women was told, by their supposed medical adviser, that “you should induce because you’re at risk because you’re fat” or “we need to do a C-section because your baby is too fat“?**

Well, you probably are.

But the fact remains that only one of the stories linked above – the Herald one – stated that labour “had” to be induced, and the pregnant people “needed” C-sections.  The fact that language isn’t matched in the Stuff story?  Yeah, colour me suspicious.

c)  Anyway, any article which says “Anecdotally, however, the problem of extremely obese mothers was growing” is probably not one I want to base healthcare decisions on.

It’s sad, you know.  Professor Lesley McCowan of the University of Auckland has gotten all the way to the top in academia without figuring out that the plural of anecdote is not data.  And correlation isn’t causation.

I’m not saying we should stop all research into pregnancy complications or maternal health.  But taking 370 women, based on a stupid, unscientific “measurement”, and then basically saying “see!  Their fatness kills their babies!” without saying “and we controlled for socio-economic status, and we controlled for race, and we controlled for illnesses or medications which might cause weight gain, and we controlled for potential health issues caused by years of socially-encouraged disordered eating” …

It basically makes you a judgemental wank who should stop pretending to do science.

I’m always open to the idea that the media have, as usually happens, completely misrepresented an otherwise balanced, well-designed study.  But when you’re dealing with fat issues?  Odds are against it.

If you yourself feel like a nice cold shower of scepticism when it comes to medical professionals and the plus-size, take some time to read the heartwarming stories at First Do No Harm.  If you find incandescent rage heartwarming.


*To paraphrase a Tamora Pierce novel of my adolescence, “I must meet this scholar Everyone.  He seems to be wrong about a lot of things.”

**For more related, outraging reading, the “Birth” tag at Hoyden About Town should see you right.

Totally unbiased expert has totally new thoughts on OBEEEEEESITY

Michelle Bridges (you can see her on TV and buy her books!) has thoughts about disgusting fatties and how disgusting we are.  Did I mention you can see her on TV and buy her books and she works in the getting paid to tell people they are disgusting fitness industry?  This obviously makes her a totally disinterested expert.

And kinda oblivious:

It’s as if no one takes our obesity epidemic seriously.

I want some of what she’s smoking.  But let’s not write off Michelle Bridges as just another fat-hater, she’s a genius of marketing:

If a loved one is struggling with unhealthy lifestyle issues, lead by example and get your own exercise and nutrition habits in order first. Why? For the same reason an aircraft safety demo tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

See?  Lest anyone be reading her diatribe about the horrors of junk food and the tsunami (tasteful word choice) of obeeeeeeesity that’s heading our way and thinking “Damn straight!  Fatties are gross, I’m so much better than them!” she lets you all know that you, too, should be buying her book and also watching her on TV “getting healthy”.

The beautiful irony is that she’s a “trainer” on The Biggest Loser, a show which is so much about health and lifestyle change that it lies about the amount of time between weigh-ins, carefully avoids banning contestants from adopting seriously damaging dietary habits(*pointed look*), and would really like it if previous contestants could shut up about how it doesn’t actually work already.* (Unless of course you believe everyone should spend their entire lives worrying about the calories in egg whites and giving the industry more money going to the gym on a daily basis.)

But the real bad guy here is Stuff, for once again presenting advertising as though it’s journalism.  And I wonder why I read blogs to get all my news …


*Even a blog called, literally, Burn The Fat Blog is against ya, Michelle.

Down Under Feminists’ Carnival XL: bigger, better, more punnage

Welcome to the 40th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I am your stunning hostess, Queen of Thorns, “QoT” to my friends and “single-handed destroyer of progressive NZ politics” to my trolls.

I’m entirely enamoured of the fact that 40 in Roman numerals is XL, so I’m putting our plus-size Antipodean bloggers up first:

New study shows correlation between fatness and selling one’s soul to Satan

Definatalie writes about re-learning her love of cycling.  sleepydumpling at Fat Heffalump talks about Why I Don’t Diet and Fixing the Relationship with Food.  Bri at Fat Lot of Good sees that fat-shaming is now getting aimed at four-year-olds to the extent some are developing a fear of food.

sleepydumpling is on a crusade, people.  A crusade for all super-fatties, deathfats, people who just cannot find clothes in their size for love nor money.  Warning: utter fuckwittery in the comments.  Remember, fatshion is activism.  And no, fat acceptance will not in fact kill you.

There’s been discussion lately about the role of the fatosphere on people’s perceptions and lives.  Dr Samantha Thomas has done a for-real ivory-tower-shaking academic paper on how the fatosphere proactively challenges fat stigma, and sleepydumpling covers the same topic in Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Shame.  Sonya at Lipmag was one of the interviewees for Dr Thomas’ paper.

The body plays a huge (BOOM BOOM!) role in a lot of feminist discussion, and things always get good and heated around one fact in particular: pregnancy and how you are probably Doing It Rong right this minute.

You read a book while pregnant?  You’re gonna DIE!!!

Feminethicist posts a quick note about double standards around scars – especially stretch marks.  Aussie MP Andrew Laming fights the good fight for homebirths.  Bluebec confronts the notion that any particular way of having babies is “unnatural”.

Pregnancy isn’t always wanted or continued, of course, and that’s why apparently I have to keep explaining that the “right to life” movement are a bunch of wanks with the intellectual honesty of a guppy.

And of course once Junior makes it out into the world it’s all downhill for progressive parents, who simply cannot win.  Ever.

Buy this Mozart CD or your baby will sprout wings!

Blue milk continues to post on her presentation on feminist parenting.  Part 4 covers “what is feminist parenting?” and Part 5 looks at the difficulties with being a feminist parent.  She also talks about the idea that some parents are too sexy to breastfeed – and provides a challenge with a follow-up post on glamorous images of breastfeeding.  Another post discusses pro-feminist fathers.

Breastfeeding also shows up as a really nifty shorthand for “crazy woman” in the Game of Thrones series, as discussed at Hoyden About Town.

Bee of a Certain Age talks about learning to love after having her children.

Our kids just aren’t getting a break:  Lessons to be Learned covers the Toddlers and Tiaras phenomenon and blue milk looks at high fashion’s role in sexualising girls.  Feminethicist has been having some fun challenging the heteronormativity when people play joke-matchmaker with babies.

Unsurprisingly, I did not take kindly to Family First’s insinuations that some families are just “obviously” worse than others.

For further reading, Mindy at Hoyden About Town has reviewed The 21st Century Motherhood Movement.

Where does a lot of this crap come from? Our wonderful media, of course.

This just in: reading mainstream media could be the reason you’re really angry all the time

Feminethicist is just thrilled by a camera app that makes your romantic partner look tolerable again. I have a slight issue with bra companies’ media releases being treated as scientific fact, with a sprinkling of obesity panic on top.

Rachel at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman takes on the latest theories of Bettina Arndt and the treatment of women who are famous for being pretty and throwing together a good outfit.

LudditeJourno, posting at The Hand Mirror, covers Michael bloody Lhaws’ preference for referring to poor brown people as “feral” and coleytangerina at The Lady Garden gets freaked out by news of a “cougar attack” … then a tad depressed.

Emma at Lip asks where the strong women are in literature.  Kate Barker discusses anti-feminist imagery.  Cara at Life is a feminist issue talks about our media ban on reporting suicide, and whether that’s really looking all that effective.

MJ at Kiwiana (inked) tells Stuff where they can shove their scare quotes when reporting on domestic violence.

Time for something a bit more positive:

Retrospective:  awesome women being awesome

Penguin Unearthed talks about Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir as part of her Travelling Feminist posts – here’s another on Norway.  The Hoydens share the news that Sensei Keiko Fukuda has become the only woman ever granted the 10th degree black belt in judo.  Double Antandre talks about Nancy Wake.

Another big issue of the past month has been identity, especially given Google’s being douchebags about what’s considered a “real” name (all the more aggravating because it’s based on needing “real” demographics to sell to shitbox marketers).

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine

Chally talks about the kinds of history that go into building identity.  blue milk passes on information on the My Name is Me project created in response to Google+ being douches.  Giovanni talks about Google+, identity and cyberpunk.

Where does a lot of identity come from?  Our “race”, social construct that it is, and religion, and culture, and all other kinds of pretty touchy issues.

Nothing witty to put here

Mindmadeup asks if Australia is a racist nation.  Chally confronts racism at the bus stop.  stargazer discusses how the “default is male” concept extends to commentary about Muslims.  stargazer also posted about the start of Ramadan.

Chally challenges the notion that feminism and religion are mutually exclusive.  Bluebec talks about gender exclusion in the Freemasons.  Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear covers freedom from religion.

Queen Emily at Questioning Transphobia asks “When am I trans?” and when trans people are “real”.

Love and Marriage

In happier news, Rachel is getting hitched!  Of course, planning a wedding doesn’t get any easier when you’re a feminist so she’s provided a handy Guide to Feminist Wedding Planning.  News With Nipples covers some tragi-comic anti-marriage-equality protests.  Hayley at Equal Love Equal Rights posts on marriage equality.

Mr Wainscotting is pleased to announce the launch of Legalise Love, a group looking to get some actual marriage equality happening in NZ.  Idiot/Savant has been taking an interest in our MPs’ views on the subject:  here he is on Hone Harawira and David Parker (and it’s not good news).

As Chally notes, though, we shouldn’t devalue single women.

Then there’s some perennial issues for feminist bloggers:


stargazer helped produce a session on poverty at the Human Rights Commission’s diversity forum and also blogged her speech from the forum on needing an action plan on human rights.  Maia at The Hand Mirror dissects a “game” where privileged people get to pretend to be poor for a while and probably learn some Important Moral Lesson.

Deborah Russell discusses welfare in the Dominion Post.

Rape culture / violence

Blue milk on some truly grotesque rape-as-comic-device bullshit.  Deborah discusses the ridiculous “guidance” given to women around “keeping themselves safe”.

The Naked Philologist deals in two parts with the subject of teaching problematic material – Can you teach Chrétien without talking about rape? and You might be able to teach Chrétien without talking about rape, but I shan’t.

LudditeJourno posts about the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network and preventing sexual violence.  Idiot/Savant notes that domestic violence still gets excused if you’re rich and powerful enough.


A guest poster at Hoyden About Town talks about being a “border gimp”.  Joanna at The View From Down Here talks about building community.

Pay gap

Deborah talks about the gender pay gap and another Deborah’s predictable privileged attitude towards it.  Idiot/Savant covers the Greens’ and CTU’s calling of National’s bluff: if people can just ask labour inspectors to check there’s pay parity in their workplace, maybe we should just start doing that all the time.

And finally, a little collection of random items to fill out your reading.

We can’t stop here, this is bat country!

Blue milk on potentially-problematic vulva-themed art.  Geek Feminism on social media protest action.  Bluebec on trusting people to make their own decisions.  Maia at The Hand Mirror on the cost of being a woman in public.  Chally’s thoughts on being “born this way”.  A guest post on Geek Feminism about encouraging women’s participation in geekiness.  Blogger at the Cast Iron Balcony on how to help the Sylvia Creek anti-logging protesters.  Bluebec on polyamory and doing it right. Feminaust posts on listening to sex workers.

That’s all she wrote

Thanks to our lovely submitters, especially Chally and Rebecca who made my job a heck of a lot easier!

The 41st edition of the DUFC will be hosted at A Touch of The Crazy.  As we still seem to be having issues with blogcarnival, send your submissions directly to stef_thomp [at] hotmail [dot] com.  We’re four years in and going strong but we need your help to keep it awesome!

The list of DUFC contributors is woefully out of date, but feel free to peruse it in the meantime while I get some well-earned coffee.

Bendon advertising: not news, also angry-making

So Stuff has a breathless report about how tits are getting bigger.

Entirely coincidentally, it reads really similarly to these stories from 2010 and 2009.

Now before you tit-bearers get your [brandname] panties in a twist, let me reassure you that these articles are Serious Journalism and not at all just slightly-reworded press releases from … who was it again?

… D cups and bigger accounting for nearly half of Bendon bras

… according to Bendon figures.

… Bendon spokeswoman Rachael Parkin

The 2010 story, wonderfully, doesn’t mention Bendon at all.  But … oops:

“A D size 10 years ago was considered wow,” says braologist Carol Rashleigh.

Who was it they quoted back in 2009?  Oh, right:

Fayreform “braologist” Carol Rashleigh

Of the “subsidiary of Bendon” Fayreforms, not the Staffordshire Fayreforms.

The 2011 rehash attempts, one assumes, to provide “balance” by also mentioning Triumph, which … doesn’t really make it better. in terms of that whole “this is just a fucking advertorial” thing.

Because here’s a few minor problems with taking Bendon’s marketers’ word for anything to do with the size of Kiwi knockers:

1.  Bendon themselves will tell you that most NZ bra-wearers are wearing the wrong size.  Usually a back size too big and ergo a cup size too small.

Bendon will especially emphasise this if you complain to their customer service department about continually being unable to find comfortable, consistently-sized bras, even when you rely on the advice of their “braologists”, most of whom incidentally have no fucking idea how to fit a bra on a fat person.

2.  Bendon stock a ridiculously narrow range of sizes, and even slightly towards the edges of the bell curve you may have to count yourself lucky to find anything, which then feeds into the following:

3.  “Sales figures” are reeeeeally interesting when you consider that small back/small cup bras can cost as little as $20, and larger back/larger cups of “odd” sizes like 10G or 18A, when you can even find them, will likely be part of the “plus-size” range, usually hidden at the back of the shop, and cost $50 if you are lucky.

Point being, as a fat woman I have 6 bras (and 2 emergency ill-fitting ones for when the laundry doesn’t dry.)  I buy bras when I have to, and I can usually buy one, two at a time if I save my pennies (and I’m damn well off).

You think maybe those sales figures are just slightly skewed by the fact that Bendon provides fuck-all for “unusual” sizes and prices “unusual”-sized people out of the market? (If the Obesity Epidemic is real, there must be demand, and capitalism tells me that demand will be answered by supply … *crickets*)

And that’s not even touching on the thinly-veiled “OMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC/BUT AT LEAST THE CHICKS ARE HOT” dichotomy.  Because there’s no other reason, if people are buying more larger-sized bras, they could possibly have to do so.

I mean, “vanity sizing” is toooootally a myth.  No one would ever think to make the Ds just a bit smaller so more women can feel validated by patriarchy to have bigger knockers (and seriously, why is it ALWAYS Ds?  Or DDs?  I’m looking at you, Letters to Penthouse.)

And our population certainly isn’t getting bigger simply out of ageing and changes in the ethnic makeup of our society.

Nope, I’m convinced.  Good on Stuff, and TV3 before them, for providing such awesomely insigtful free advertising for Bendon (and Triumph!) analysis.


PS.  No, I will not try Kirkcaldie & Staines.  Bendon may have shameless marketers and pet journalists but at least I’ve never seen their salespeople happily gossip to the DomPost about the “freaks” they’ve had to deal with.

Y U JELLUS?: What planet is Dean Lonergan living on?

H/T Danyl and IrishBill who already summed up the immediate WTF factor of this story.

Is it just me or is the idea of our Prime Minister joking around with Tony Vietch (a guy who threw his fiance down the stairs before kicking her in the back) about celebrities he’d like to shag just a little creepy?

Props to Sue Kedgley for calling this shit out, but oh my god does the article get into some seriously bizarre territory:

On the other side of the airwaves, Veitch’s rival breakfast host, former Kiwis league great Dean Lonergan said Key’s comment had made him respect the PM even more. “John Key is a strong leader and a very good family man,” the LiveSport host said.

“Those women who might be upset at his comments are obviously just disappointed they never made John Key’s list and never will.

Um, yeah.  Sue Kedgley definitely lies awake at night, sobbing into a handspun hemp handkerchief, crying out “WHY??? WHY JOHN WHY?  WHY DON’T YOU LOOOOOOOOVE MEEEEEEEEE?”

I mean, let’s just start with the fact that in Dean Lonergan’s head, “going on the radio to call Liz Hurley hot” directly correlates to “strong leader and good family man”.  As Danyl put it, I don’t think one needs to be a feminist, or even particularly liberal, to wonder how the fuck that works.

But what I think we really need to take from this is the utter, utter cluelessness of patriarchy some time.  Yes, yes, it’s a common trope to try to write off feminists as “jealous” – “you’re just into fat acceptance because you’re ugly, you criticise rape culture because no one will fuck you” etc. etc.  But seriously?  We’re actually meant to buy that as some stinging criticism of Sue Kedgley?  That’s meant to somehow invalidate what she says, because she’s obviously just jealous she didn’t make a list populated by conventionally-hot celebrities?  That was the best line you could come up with?

I ‘m feeling the need to go have a wash after writing this, so just a final thought:  how much can we read carefully-engineered Crosby/Textor influences into the fact that all smile-and-wave’s celebrity crushes are brunettes, just like his “childhood sweetheart” Bronagh?

Newsflash: Food is delicious

So the nice Prime News anchorperson just popped up on the telly to let us know that tonight’s broadcast is going to include something described as “doctors call for graphic advertising to combat the obesity epidemic”.*

Initial disclaimer:  I have no intention of watching the broadcast involved because (a) I do not expect it to contain any original thought and (b) I choose not to subject myself voluntarily to baseless fat-hate and (c) I’m not allowed to throw the television out the window.

So.  “Graphic advertising” designed to “combat” the “obesity epidemic”.**

Let’s just leave aside the  eternal “no such animal” debate for the moment.  “Graphic advertising”.  Wonder what that could be based on?

Well, we have graphic advertising about speeding / driving while drunk.  Moral of the story?  Speeding/drunk driving = bad/gross.

And we have graphic advertising about smoking.  Morale of story?  Smoking = bad/gross.

So how do you reckon these “anti-obesity” ads are going to run? Oh right. Eating the [current] Bad Foods as judged by society and a massive industry premised on body-hating and failure = bad/gross.  It’s a totally new and creative riff on the good ol’ this is how the bad food looks when it’s in your stomach bogeyman.

Because a low-fat chicken Caesar salad would look so appetizing when blended into a smoothie.

And because of course the “being fat = gross” message isn’t already broadcast loud and clear on a daily basis (hence the panic when studies show that moderately-not-thin women “don’t realise” they’re “overweight”).***

But none of that is actually the point.


The point is that these ads are part of a bigger, wider problem: our complete fucking disconnect in the wonderful totes-secular West from the fact that we are biological beings and we’re all going to die some day.

This is something that’s a several-posts-long thing to unpack, but for now, let’s consider:  we do actually need food to live.  Eating is actually a good thing.  Consuming foods is not some lesser-of-two-evils moral conflict for which we must eternally self-flagellate.  We don’t have to feel bad for lacking the willpower just to starve to death instead of letting filthy biomatter pass our lips.

Given this, it’s not some kind of massive leap of faith to assume that eating food might be something we, as breathing bloody meaty entities, might find enjoyable.

It’s also a bit childish to act like you can tell what’s “bad” for you by how it physically appears after being chewed, mixed with saliva, and bathed in stomach acid for a while, and whether it looks “gross”.  (See Caesar salad note above.)  But it ties nicely into our fear of acknowledging that we’re made of meat and that once something comes off a beautifully-presented plate into our mouths it’s literally a fairly visceral process.  One which literally does not care whether the calories it’s burning are being pulled out of a crunchy fresh lettuce leaf or a buttery pie shell.

This proposed ad “campaign” can only be premised on us finding our very existences icky, and by association the food we nom on.  Diet culture tries to spin us the illusion that by limiting ourselves to Good Foods – and hating every mouthful for being a necessary evil in the continuance of our wretched mortal existences – we can ignore the “gross” bits, the meaty bits, the stomachy bits, the crapping bits.

Well, sorry, y’all, but we’re humans.  We eat food, we enjoy it, we crap it out when our bodies are done with it and that’s how we keep on living.  It all looks gross in the end.  Any ad which ignores that and is based on making us hate a vital part of our lives and will almost directly put money into the pockets of a global industry which exists to spread hatred and prejudice and low self-esteem?  Probably not actually working for the forces of good.  Or “health.”


*Complete with grossed-out looking guy drinking a “shake” apparently made of liquified pies.


***I swear I’m going to wear out my sarcasm-quotes on this one.

Fatphobia at The Standard II: Return of fatphobia

Allow me to let you in on a secret, dear friends:  Zetetic’s “guest post by David Farrar“* on The Standard actually has nothing to do with health.  And nothing to do with caring about young people.

But your Majesty! you cry.  Isn’t it about exactly those things?

Alas no, dear readers.

You see, Zetetic’s post is all about how fat kids can’t run and fat kids need to put down the chips.

If Zetetic’s post actually were about “health” …

Maybe Z would talk about poverty.

Maybe Z would talk about the fact that even a family on a double income may not be able to afford the necessities of life at people who work 80 hour weeks probably don’t have the time to cook from scratch with local/organic/wevs ingredients every meal.

Maybe Z would talk about how our modern society has fucked with people’s connection to their cultures and food traditions in favour of consumerism and greed (but not greed associated with food).

Maybe Z would talk about the obscene markups supermarkets put on “healthy” foods and fresh ingredients.  Or about the higher markup and lower availability of “healthy” foods which haven’t been liberally bathed in pesticides.

Maybe Z would talk about the stigma associated with obesity, with “over”weight or even with just being a little on the chubby side, and how maybe, you know, kids who are constantly shamed and criticised and teased – and whose shaming and teasing and abuse is fucking justified and sanctioned by adults – might not feel like getting dressed in a changing room full of their abusers and judgers, and might not feel like submitting themselves to further humiliation when they commit the cardinal sin of Running While Fat.

Anecdote time!

At intermediate, I had already undergone significant preparatory stages in my journey towards being a Fucking Hot Fat Chick and having Fucking Amazing Big Breasts.  And burned into my memory for all time is the day the class was running short laps back and forth across the netball court and a boy pointed at my swaying bosom and laughed really nastily and called his mates over to share the “look, proto-QoT has boobs” joke.

Guess how keen I was to ever repeat that experience?  The answer, internets, is not very fucking keen at all.  I ended up so hating my breasts that I slept in a sports bra for three years.  I did not remove my bra except to bathe.  I was convinced that to be seen with visibly moving breasts was absolutely the most shameful thing I could ever do.  I refused to run at top speed (not hugely fast, of course, for I am one of Nature’s Long Distance Walkers) until I was well into adulthood and priorities like “catch the bus and make it to work on time” took precedence – briefly – over shame.

And if I had read a post like Zetetic’s during adolescence, when I hated every mouthful of food I ate and certainly knew I wasn’t “healthy” – I couldn’t BE healthy, after all, I was FAT – well, I’m not going to say it would have been hugely traumatic.  It would just have been another straw on the camel’s back and maybe the one that might have triggered an eating disorder or another depressive episode.

It wouldn’t have made me fucking thin, though.

No, Zetetic – and his many supporters – aren’t actually interested in how these things – poverty, capitalism, social pressure – actually contribute to actual health problems of which fatness may in some cases be a symptom.  Z just wants to play know-it-all and get a warm tinge of superiority by hating on children – but just the ones it’s socially OK to hate on, I mean, we are talking about fatties who can only be fat because they’re stupid and lazy.

You may be sceptical, I know.  Litmus test time!

the 12 year-old who can’t climb a flight of stairs without wheezing and going red in the face

If you’re a 9 year old and you want to stuff chips into your face until you’re obese

Oh, QoT! you cry.  Zetetic is just concerned for the kids’ health!  He’s just riffing on rightwing/libertarian freedom-of-choice dogma!

No, dear readers.  You see, if Zetetic is “concerned” about that 12-year-old’s health – in this case apparently completely measured by ability-to-climb-stairs** – then Zetetic should also care enough not to use that child as a symbol of The End Of The World As We Know It.  And how convenient for Z that “satirising” that particular style conveniently allows him to parrot classic fat-hating, bullying tropes about how fat people “choose” to eat themselves into Horrible Obesity!

Tell you what, inevitable concern-trolling objecters:  a challenge!  Criticise the earlier scrapping of Fruit in Schools or similar programmes … without making cracks about how Fat Kids Can’t Run or Poor People Are Stupid or Everyone Knows Fat Is Bad.  You’ll get a fun mental workout and might learn something – about yourself and how big a bigot you really are.

(Zetetic, sorry, probably too late for you given previous form.)


*I imagine Zetetic also feels amazingly clever because, lol, David Farrar is fat, so that makes it, like, ironic!

**More on why this is full of bonus ableism fail in an upcoming post!