It is interesting to look at examples of how interdependent the two factors of media and awareness are. (Awareness is a commodity, as shown by how many artists are invited to work for “exposure,” which means for free.) Media creates awareness, and awareness equally creates media.
Awareness means that the psychological ramifications around weight are all-pervasive, especially when people who grew up struggling with weight issues tell their own stories. There is a documentary called Fattitude, released a couple of years back. Available in DVD format to colleges, universities, and institutions for around $400, it is described by its creators, Lindsey Averill and Viridiana Lieberman, as “An eye-opening look at how popular media perpetuates fat hatred that results in cultural bias and discrimination.”
Reviewer Kelsey Miller says that while Averill, the producer, “was barely even overweight as a teenager, she perceived herself as frighteningly fat.” Among other hard lessons, Averill learned that there are time-worn and inescapable tropes that lead fiction writers to portray obese people as belonging to certain categories, such as the Monster, the Joke, the Hypersexual, the Asexual, and the Sidekick. Here is a quotation:
There are 10 to 15 archetypes for fat characters. But, they tend to be problematic, meaning outside the normal sphere of culture. Fat characters don’t have average experiences or stories. They don’t have their own stories at all. They’re the subplot.
There is also a Medium publication called Fattitude. Its catalog is a good place to search for awareness, a quest that results, among other suggestions, in Christine Schoenwald’s “Let’s Stop with the Fatphobic Talk.”
This writer specializes in translation:
“You carry yourself well” means hooray for you for being able to walk about with all your extra weight. “You’ve got such a pretty face” means your face is acceptable by society’s beauty standards, but your body is not. Your body is wrong, unruly, and if you only had a little discipline, you could fix it.
Like Aubrey Gordon and so many others, Schoenwald has been interfered with by strangers in public places. Out riding her bike, which you’d think the fat-phobic public would approve of, she still gets negatives comments shouted at her. Strangers in a restaurant feel called upon to give their opinion on her food choices.
She also wrote, “I’m Not Afraid to Call Myself Fat,” from which this excerpt is quoted:
Still, I don’t assume that other fat people are okay with the word, nor do I want to cause them additional pain. If fluffy or overweight is more comfortable for them, then I will support them by using the word of their choice. I hope one day they can get to a place where fat isn’t emotionally dangerous.
If you’re fat, make the word your own, and keep discovering more words that describe you and make you feel good about yourself. Fat is only the first word towards self-acceptance.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The Problem With Fat Monica,” Medium.com, 02/22/20
Source: “Let’s Stop With the Fatphobic Talk,” Medium.com, 08/30/20
Source: “I’m Not Afraid to Call Myself Fat,” Medium.com, 07/16/20
Image by Daniela/CC BY-ND 2.0