Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nanny, May I; Permission to Be Precious.

It occurs to me that the recent rise in the media profile of Fat Acceptance and the Fatosphere might be a good thing as far as raising awareness to the fact that fat people are, yah know, people. However there is another aspect of all this attention that also has me a little concerned. Well, not just a little actually. 

Realizing that the 'War on Obesity' is wracking up actual casualties is an excellent thing when you consider that, so far, it's been all about 'doing something' about the 'problem'. Mainstream society is finally coming around to the fact that human beings are not only inextricably involved with this but are central to the very issue. And we're starting to hear it in the small changes. A lessening of the dismissiveness in news articles and TV reports, an apparent decrees in the, at one time almost prerequisite, inclusion of blatant fat 'humor' in journalistic pieces. Written news that was supposed to be covering serious topics but always managed to get in that one fat joke. I'm even seeing a certain amount of push-back from people who don't consider themselves fat. People who are, apparently, now familiar the concept of F/A, and are in growing realization that you can't hate someone thin. And they are showing up in the hotbeds of fat hate; the comments sections of internet articles. Perhaps only a handful in any given article but, when compared against comments past, this is progress. Previously, all you could expect to find was derision, disgust, savage denial, blatantly backhanded concern trolling, and ample cheering sections for more of the same so this may be more than progress. It could very well be improvement. Still, there's a problem and that problem would be the continued perception that fat people are things or, as recent media noise seems to indicate, children in need of discipline.

'Is It Ok to Be Fat?' That's a joke, right? Really? Is it ok to be an inept journalist? How about six feet tall? Is that ok? Is it ok to be Jewish? It seems that while the idea that Fat People should be allowed to exist might be gaining some traction, we'll probably have to continue going to strenuous lengths trying to justify that continued existence with some people. Don't thinks so? Well then, what about this; 'Do the Obese Really Deserve Contempt?' Now, it's entirely possible that the article, written by Mary Mitchell, a published etiquette author, was meant to point out a disservice being done to people because of their size. The title/question may be rhetorical and the article itself might be an attempt at some kind of satire but, 'The Obese'? I don't think that name means what you want us to think  it means. You sure your not talking about 'The Unterklasse'? Actually, I couldn't give less of a frak what the authors intentions were. The tone of the article is condescending, patronizing, 'others' faster than a visit to a mountain village with one dirt road, and reeks of 'won't you pity those, poor, 'fflicted folk?'

I mean, really lady. Just. Don't.

As far as etiquette is concerned- 

Merriem Webster has the definition as- 
Pronunciation: \ˈe-ti-kət, -ˌket\
Function: noun
Etymology: French étiquette, literally, ticket 
Date: 1750
: the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life

Cambridge Online has-
etiquette noun
/ˈet.ɪ.ket/ussymbol.png/ˈet ̬.ɪ.kət/ [U]
the set of rules or customs which control accepted behaviour in particular social groups or social situations

As *I* understand the word, etiquette is born of the forbearance and respect one should give to another regardless of perception or assumption. It's one of the pillars of civilized behavior which, eroded as it may be, is necessary for continued social interaction. Don't learn how to act right & your gonna end up beefin' with 'erybody. Which is why I'll be sticking with Miss Conduct and, if I should ever find myself in need of advise, there's always Carolyn Hax at The Washington Post. Such is the beef I've got with Mary Mitchell and anyone else who couldn't be bothered to treat fat people with the kind of deference they willingly afford almost anyone else. This would, most definitely, include Howard 'I-hate-myself-so-much-everyone-must-suffer' Stern.

Gabourey Sidibe missed getting her golden statue on Oscar Nite (Mo'Nique DID'NT! and ROCKED her acceptance speech, thank you!!) but, you know what? It didn't even, fucking, matter. She scorched the Red Carpet, she mixed mingled, hobnobbed, and out-did quite a few of the 'beautiful people' Hollywierd holds in such high regard. She flashed & sparkled so, damn, hard they didn't get the chance to sputter 'Yeah, but she's Fa-fa-fa-fa. . . .' By now I'm sure it sounds cliche, but the truth bares repeating; Her self-confidence was inspiring and her raw personality dominated every interview she did. This woman knows who she is and had no intention of ALLOWING anyone else the opportunity to define her. Muthafucka, THAT is Sexy. Watch it, learn it, know it. There will be a test. 

And yet the jackals do circle. 

They wait, watch, and listen. Sniffing for any sign of weakness because she represents the antihisis of their most strongly held beliefs about what it is to be fat. Therefore, she must be brought down. Something a long tradition of celebrity society etiquette has insured they can do very well and that makes me worry for her. However, Ms. Gabourey Sidibe is, obviously, an extremely strong woman. Hopefully she'll be able to maintain her sense of self in a town where being anyone but yourself is a valued trait. I pray that the price of fame or, more likely the hammering pressure of disapproval, won't turn her against herself and cause her to lose the Center she seems to have forged. And 'forged' would be the operative word here since we now seem to have graduated from a 'problem' that needs to be solved, to people who's existence must be throughly examined and questioned. Gabourey or, basically anyone living fat in todays society, will need the strength and integrity of Damascus steel to hold onto any sense of self they can maintain in the face of this societies questioning lack of decorum. And yet they will tell us that we have no self control. Nice.

Muzak Therapy:
Akira - Original Soundtrack / Dolls Polyphony

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