Quote: Fat And Happy Is A Radical Act

From Shakespeare’s Sister:

It remains a radical act to be fat and happy in America, especially if you’re a woman (for whom “jolly” fatness isn’t an option). If you’re fat, you’re not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident—and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society’s disdain and your own self-hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the cow-calls and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self-esteem; you don’t deserve it. Being publicly fat and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy is an act of both will and bravery.

I quite agree. There’s more at SS’s place.

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14 Responses to Quote: Fat And Happy Is A Radical Act

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  2. 2
    NancyP says:

    Being publicly fat and SEXY is radical! I admire those buxom plus-size women who go clubbing in bustiers. Unfortunately, I am too thin and too inhibited to be radical. Stuck in wallflower mode.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    I agree that being fat and sexy in public is radical, and I’m totally in favor of fat activists working in that direction. But I think that sometimes the “sexy” stuff gets too many headlines, compared to other areas of self-acceptance; sexy is an important area for us to work on, but it shouldn’t be the primary area.

    (I’m not really disagreeing with or criticizing you, I’m just bouncing some thoughts off what you wrote.)

  4. 4
    Kell says:

    I’ll take Fat&Happy or Fat&Analytical or Fat&Mature or Fat&Smart or Fat&Rich or Fat&Powerful or Fat&Admirable or Fat&Loved-by-a-Faithful-Husband or Fat&Influential or Fat&Honerable or Fat&Complex over Fat&Sexy any day. Mere “sexiness” is just too shallow, predictable, obsessive, controlled, adolescent, co-opted, consumerist, simplistic, anti-intellectual, asensual, anti-sexual and just downright power-zapping for me to give it more than a blink. Sorry, but it really is time to grow up, kids. Can’t we dig just a *little bit deeper* than that?

  5. 5
    NancyP says:

    Oh, I was just thinking of an exuberant friend of mine from the local lesbian chorus. She always wears such knockout outfits onstage, just another aspect of her pep and conviction that she looks fabulous.

  6. 6
    Brian says:

    No one mentioned “Fat & Healthy”!

  7. 7
    Shelley says:

    There’s always going to be someone who can’t accept a decent post like this at face value. Why is it important to people to look at something, and immediately say it should have been something else? I know I’m being vague but it’s early.

    I liked this post, and it has some very important points. Every other issue that the commenters have can be addressed on their own damn blogs. :)

  8. 8
    Kell says:

    A coupla things —

    “Sexy” as a concept (which, like “beautiful,” is 100% subjective) has no meaning until someone tacks one on to it. And, it only takes a quick look at human history to see how “attraction” usually has far more to do with whatever political message needs to be sent (white skin is better than black, thin is better than fat) than with anything having to do intrinsically with procreation or otherwise being a good catch. “Fat & Sexy” at first glance seems to be undermining the set of politics attached to “sexy,” but, while it does undermine the “thin=sexy” rule, it reenforces the “frivolous=sexy,” “promiscuous=sexy,” “young=sexy” rules (not a complete list).

    (And, to some of us, “sexy” is boring, since it kills off any hope of intimacy. “Sexy” is what people do when they’re horny around strangers; lovers don’t need consumerist props and generalized rituals. But, I digress.)

    (I like the original post, too, saying the “fat & happy” is legitimately revolutionary. )

  9. 9
    lobafemme says:

    why does “sexy” equal consumerist props? why does “sexy” kill off any hope of intimacy? why is “sexy” limited to being horny around strangers? these are your subjective definitions that are unsupported, empirically or politically, in my experience. that is not to say that there aren’t individuals or even collections of individuals comprising and fabricating media trends whom those definitions accurately describe, but it is to challenge the universality of these assertions.

    perhaps this is just a squabble over semantics, but language is power, and i’m not up for letting you dismiss this aspect of mine.

  10. 10
    Kell says:

    To me, in this case, “sexy” means making sexuality something that happens when someone buys and wears a particular uniform, in public, in a highly ritualized and specialized setting (i.e. “clubbing”), and then brings up that ritual every single damn time anything having to do with with women’s power is talked about, as if being “sexy” is the only form of women’s power or women’s sexuality worth talking about.

    There are also issues here of people under 25 assuming that the entire Net is just one big Live Journal. Some of us don’t use mere clothes to express political ideas because we’re grown ups now and have just met too many people over the decades who don’t wear the right uniforms, but still have ideas worth knowing about.

    Meanwhile, I stand by what I said. “Sexy” is anti-sex, especially for those of us for whom sex must coexist with love. “Sexy” is just another layer of b.s. keeping people from legitimately communicating with each other.

    (Happiness is, however, sexy as hell, especially when it includes being happy in impossible circumstances, in which case it also includes courage.)

  11. 11
    lobafemme says:

    to YOU, to YOU, the above is what sexy means. that’s groovy. i respect your right to define yourself and your relationship to your realities. at the same time, i don’t cede you any right to define me and my relationship to my realities.

    to ME, sexy is an emotional aspect of my sexuality. it’s about how i feel about myself, my body, and my desire. when i’m using it to describe someone else, it’s about them, their body, and their desire – not about their taste in skimpy clothing.

    to ME, being fat and feeling sexy is a revolutionary act that is, again, not about my taste in skimpy clothing, but instead about my claiming of my capacity to be a lusty being and have my desires honored in a fatphobic culture that would deny me both and more.

    i’m not sure whether or not you were assuming that i’m a young pup, or just speaking in general terms about young pups, but i do have my share of decades of sexual and political thinking and living under my belt. i also have my share of irritations with the simplistic dogma 20somethings are prone to {i know, someone’s probably gonna get offended by that, but hey, it’s the truth about me.}, but i don’t use that irritation to justify sweeping judgments about other people’s relationships to their sexuality.

    i’m confused about the railing against “sexy” and then the closing parenthetical that uses the term positively, but maybe it’s all about the quotation marks. in any case, i’m fat and sexy and happy and a great communicator, so trust, they are not mutually exclusive attributes.

    and i just have to ask, are you fat?

  12. 12
    Kell says:

    Just a note, a lot of what I’ve argued I now know shows up in Ariel Levy’s “Female Chauvinist Pigs” (yes, it’s a crummy title, but that does not ruin the rest of the book). Robin Morgan describes the books as “a call to arms for women and girls who are being sold pseudo empowerment, phony liberation, and fake rebellion — instead of the real thing: freedom.”

  13. 13
    Kell says:

    And, by the way, yes, I am fat and have been so all my life. I have also on occasion had sex. And been happy about it.

  14. 14
    Katie says:

    I think we’re confusing sexiness with sluttiness here. Generally, sluttiness defines promiscuous behavior and self presentation as opposed to sexiness which would be those traits which an individual finds personally desirable, i.e. I think it’s so sexy when someone can speak intelligently about literature, I find an English accent very sexy, I find powerful women to be sexy… And so forth.

    Not to say that some don’t desire promiscuity, but sexiness is about desire alone. What’s wrong with wanting or being wanted? Isn’t that part of love… In regards to both ourselves and others, actually.