Obese Star Loses Weight!!

"Obese Star" Real Headline

But not the kind of star you’re thinking. I was browsing articles over on HuffPost earlier today, and was shocked to run into an article with the headline: “Scientists Discover Obese Star…” It was somewhat shocking to me because I had no idea actual astronomical stars could be obese. Having taken an astronomy class in undergrad, I thought I knew all types of stars…red giants, white dwarfs, etc. But I’d never heard of an obese star.

What does this tell us, then, that journalists (or maybe even the astronomers?) are co-opting weightist language to describe phenomena? For me, it actually makes me wonder about how we use the word “obese.” I am a fat woman. That is how I describe myself. But, medically, I am obese. To many people, being “obese” means you’re ill. It means you’re too fat. Many people think it denotes laziness, overeating, inactivity. To many people, “obese” is a negative term.

How, then, does this translate to astronomy? It doesn’t. The star in question has a lot of mass. It’s 320 times larger than earth’s sun, and is quite a discovery. But calling it “obese” doesn’t add anything to the article. All it does is make you wonder, “How could a star be obese?”

It wasn’t until I read the article again (I had saved it because it bugged me so much) that it really hit me. The reason the astronomers and journalists are couching this star’s discovery in terms of obesity and weight is because it’s an analogy that most people will understand.

“Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age,” said Crowther, an astrophysicist at the University of Sheffield in northern England. “R136a1 is already middle-aged and has undergone an intense weight loss program.”

They’re trying to humanize it, and give it a defined relative mass. They’re trying to make it resonate with people through a metaphor that is obvious.

To me, it’s reminiscent of “ha ha, look at how funny we’re being by calling this thing fat.” They’re trying to be clever, but they don’t think about how they’re using the word. Does this stretch obesity too far? Are people now relating obesity to anything bigger than the sun? If this article were read by millions of people, would people call me a “big fat star” instead of a “big fat elephant?” When will the hyperbole end, and what damage will it do?


I’m a Chubby Ninja

After the somewhat downer tone of yesterday’s post, I’ll bring you something delightful.

There’s this wonderful website, Sleep Talkin’ Man, which is run by a woman whose husband talks in his sleep. Eventually, she got the idea to record his quotes (using a voice activated audio recorder) and post them daily on the web. Something that began as a blog for family and friends has now turned into a blog that delights hundreds.

One of yesterday’s quotes made me laugh out loud in glee. You can hear it Here. For those of you who can’t listen to the audio, here’s the transcription:

I’m just a chubby ninja. Able to move between skinny people. Tiptoeing elephant. No one can see me. And then I attack! With ice cream and jelly, with chocolate sprinkles on top. Mmmmm.

The idea of being a chubby ninja is so delightful to me, that I am going to make it my mission to use it in my everyday life. Bump into someone: “I’m a chubby ninja! Hiyah!” Clean my plate at dinner: “The chubby ninja strikes again!” Well, those are terrible examples. But there’s something appealing about being stealthy, graceful, and mysterious like a ninja. I think someone should write a series about the chubby ninja fighting crime. S(he) stops hate in its tracks and turns it all to double rainbows and ice cream sundaes with sprinkles.

Needless to say, this is one of the small things that brings me joy everyday. Thanks, Sleep Talkin’ Man!

Stephen Colbert talks Weightism

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the video, courtesy of Jamie. Now that I’ve watched it again, I find more things disgusting about it than I did before. I think what really bothers me is that I feel like the audience isn’t laughing at the satire of what he’s saying, but rather laughing AT fat people. That, I believe is why I’m so disturbed by this video which is fantastic otherwise…

Last night, I was lolly-gagging on the internet in my bedroom when my mother shouted to me, “Chrissy!” I went running upstairs. It turns out that she was watching the Colbert Report and Stephen Colbert had just said something about Weightism. That’s right, you heard it, a big TV show host says something about WEIGHTISM. I couldn’t believe it.

I can’t find the video at the moment, (see UPDATE above) but I spent a good amount of time being angry about his satirical commentary on America being the fattest nation. He always does his satirical read to introduce his topic, and this one fed right into the normal weghtist stereotypes: fat people eat whole pies, fat people eat a lot of cheese (?), fat people like to eat….a lot, etc. After hearing this monologue, I started to walk away, disgusted, when my mom called me back. “He’s bringing out a professor!”

Luckily, as usually happens on Colbert, he then proceeded to have a very rational and very HAES-filled discussion with Dickinson College’s Professor Amy Farrell. The very first point she made was that some people can eat junk food and be thin and others can eat junk food and be fat, and that BOTH of those groups are unhealthy. She continued with the wonderful HAES approach that by being physically active and eating right, you can be healthy without regard to your weight.

The interview continued for a while longer, and it was all very good: discussing weight-prejudice, how fat people have a harder time getting jobs, etc, and I was very pleased that this discussion was being had.

However, I still have major issues with Colbert’s topical introduction. I know it’s his gimmick to be satirical and present the opposite opinion of what he really believes, but I just can’t get over the fact that in order to introduce the topic of weightism, he had to crack jokes about fat people being x/y/z. Afterward, though I was pleased with the discussion, I still left feeling a little put out. I know that sometimes when I watch that show, I listen to his funny monologue, and then I switch channels when the experts come on (because often, I’m only watching for the jokes). If I had done that last night (and I almost did), I would’ve missed the real substantive part of the interview.

I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks about it. But I just feel kind of put off about the whole thing, even after seeing such a popular show have such an important discussion. I’ll try to post the video as soon as I find it so you can judge it for yourself.

Whip It

I went to see the new movie, Whip It yesterday, though I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I knew going in that Drew Barrymore directed it, and that Ellen Page was the star, but other than that, I didn’t know much. The movie was actually  filmed in a city near my hometown, and my brother had the opportunity to be an extra in a few scenes. I was hoping to be able to see him in a few shots (if you know what he was wearing, you’d catch his shoulder a few times), but I didn’t really know if the movie would be any good.

I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Jos at Feministing reviewed it on Friday (an excellent review), and this is how they described the movie:

Bliss (Ellen Page) lives in Bodeen, Texas, a very small town where not much happens. Bliss’ mother (Marcia Gay Harden) wants her competing in beauty pageants, but when Bliss meets a roller derby team from Austin she finds a new passion.

Jos goes on to discuss the fact that the entire film has such strong female characters. To me, it was super impressive that the characters themselves were so vivid. Add in the fact that the women were such strong role models, and I fell in love with all of them. The male characters, as well, seemed to be respectful and supportive of the women characters. It was a very balanced dynamic.

I also really enjoyed the mother-daughter theme, and the empowerment that came with that relationship. The film really spins the classic mother-wants-girly-girl-daughter-while-daughter-rebels plot into something new and empowering. Even the seemingly least empowered woman in the film (Mom) turns out to be not as bad as we think.

I agree with Feminsting that the film lacks queer representation and people of color. But overall, I think it’s a step towards the type of films we need in our society.

In the end, I loved this film because it was a feel-good, wonderfully made, and overall delightful story that had feminist themes. It really did ask you to “Be Your Own Hero.” I commend Drew for making her directorial debut in this brilliant film.

Amber Riley (from Glee) is my Homegirl!

Amber Riley as Mercedes on GleeFor those of you who aren’t watching the new show, Glee, pick up your remote this Wednesday and give it a go. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this show, and I’m not exactly sure why. It’s a little corny, a little stereotypical teenage drama, but there’s something so glorious about it that I can’t get over: the characters.

Though in many ways the characters fall into the same old categories of high school drama, there are also things about them that I love to pieces. Amber Riley, who plays the diva-fabulous Mercedes is one of my favorite characters to date! I was watching the season premiere a few weeks ago, and the first thing I said to myself was, “wouldn’t it be great if they gave the big girl a love interest?” I’m used to seeing stupid TV where the big girls are always the best friend-like characters and are never viewed romantically. But, lo and behold, the very next episode Mercedes gets a love interest (although, ill-fated-ly, she falls for her gay best friend). To me, this was a refreshing change to see on TV: she was treated positively and encouraged that she could get a great guy. Not to mention the fact that she had a badass solo in the middle of the episode.**

So, Amber Riley, is not only an extremely talented singer, dancer and actress,  but she also totally deserves to be named my homegirl! I’ll be watching out for her in the future. She’s going to keep kicking ass for a long time, I know for sure.

**In this video, which talks about the character motivation behind the kickass solo mentioned above, Amber says that dancing is about being comfortable in your body, and that she must be a dancer after all. I just loved that.

Meghan McCain is my Homegirl!

Meghan and John McCain

Meghan and John McCain

Thus far I’ve used my homegirl posts to recognize celebrity women who I feel particularly fond of at a certain time. Margret Cho and Kate Winslet, the past Homegirls, are women who I have been a fan of for quite a while now. Lately, however, I’ve found myself following the story of Meghan McCain, whose anti-Ann Coulter comments posted at the Daily Beast have caused Republican radio-show host Laura Ingraham to mock McCain for being “plus-sized.”

I’m not going to get into all the details here (though you  can find them here, here and here), but I’d like to say, Meghan McCain’s response to the media blitz now focused on her weight have caused me to say “Meghan McCain is my Homegirl!” I’ll admit that I did not follow McCain before now, and that I’m not a fan of her particular politics. But she has conducted herself with such grace, poise, and beauty that I can only be in awe of her. She recognizes the importance of her position in the media, and has stepped up the plate to say “hey, it’s not okay to say that my weight means my opinion isn’t valid!” I am proud of her.

Meghan, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re an inspiration.

For more from Meghan, here she is on The View:

Non-Fat Friday: 30 Rock

30 Rock

30 Rock

So recently I started watching 30 Rock on my Netflix. Excepting a few episodes in Season 2, I’ve found it to be a pretty good show. I really love Tina Fey’s character, especially because it is literally her thing that she loves food. It cracks me up. And her love of food is almost always portrayed positively. She just loves food! She’s not fat because she loves food. She’s not ugly because she loves food. She just loves food!

I really enjoy Alec Baldwin’s character, too (though, wouldn’t it be fun if he’d been played by Nathan Fillion from Firefly and Dr. Horrible? For some reason, he’s who I thought of when I first heard Jack speak on 30 Rock). Mostly, I enjoy his political barbs, and the fact that he once “dated” Condoleeza Rice. HAH!

Add in the rest of the cast, and I find the show genuinely funny. I think I might be obsessed. I actually had a 30 Rock dream the other night. It was entirely too absurd. But I really do relate to Tina Fey’s character, and I enjoy her sass. There’s something about her that just makes her super-relatable. I’m excited to see where this show goes.

Do any of you watch 30 Rock? What do you think?

Oscars 2009: Review from a Fat Girl who loves movies

Kate Winslet, Best Actress

Kate Winslet, Best Actress

I am an avid fan of the Academy Awards. The glamour, the glitz, and most importantly the recognition it provides for amazing artists attracts me every year to sit down on my couch and watch the event. This weekend, I spent a glorious few days at home partially so that I could watch the Oscars with my mother. Around 6:00PM yesterday, we sat down for the pre-show with popcorn and settled in for the night.

Now, there’s lots I could say about the fashion at the Oscars. Yes, there are the long and involved stories about women dieting for months just to look good in a dress. Yes, we see the scary-thinness of our unrealistic beauty standards for women. Yet still, I am drawn to watching the red carpet every single year. I’ve decided that what it comes down to is every woman’s desire to dress up, look good, feel good, and show off. It’s what draws me to Regency films–elaborate balls with fabulous ballgowns. Fancy dress at its best. And that’s what the red carpet is for me.

I did have to sit through a few comments from my mother about how thin/fat people looked. One particular moment was when she said that Angelina Jolie looked pretty bad when she won her Oscar all those years ago, and that her face looked much fatter. When they cut to Angelina arriving a few seconds later, I pointed out how sickly thin she looked in explaination: “That’s because she’s so sickly thin nowadays.”

My mom also claimed that Queen Latifah (who I squeeled over when she walked onto the carpet) looked particularly good. She quickly claified saying “trim” instead of “good” and I said, “She’s always looked great. She looks like Queen Latifah to me!”

Once we got to the show (after squeeling about Tim Gunn, from Project Runway, acting as one of the three hosts of the offical Red Carpet show), we were plesantly surprised by the changes to the ceremonies. First, we should start with Hugh Jackman’s opening number, which made us laugh so hard we were crying. Next moment, they started what I hope will be a tradition of announcing the actor/actress nominees by bringing out legends in their categories, and having each legend give a beautiful speech on the talent of each particular actor/actress. We were immediately sobbing. All the actresses started to cry. It was truly a celebration of the talents of the nominees. It shifted focus from the winner, and back to the celebration of these nominees’ achievements.

As the night progressed, I don’t think I really stopped crying. It was one of the beautiful, most poignant Academy Awards I’ve ever seen.

Dustin Lance Black, Screewriter, Milk

Dustin Lance Black, Screewriter, Milk

Highlights for me included: Heath Ledger winning for Supporting Actor (a point at which I sobbed as his family accepted the award), Kate Winslet winning Best Actress (I literally WHOOP-ed and jumped up and down ’cause Kate Winslet is my Homegirl), and finally when Sean Penn won for Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk(which was unexpected, but absolutely exactly what I wanted to happen). Sean proceeded to give a beautiful speech about how equal rights are needed for all, no matter what.

Similarly, when Dustin Lance Black won for Screenplay for Milk, I almost died of joy. If anyone deserved to win, it was him. He, too, gave a beautiful speech about how he hoped won day to be able to live his life with equal rights and spoke directly to all gay and lesbian children out there, telling them that God does love them, no matter what society, their churches, families, etc. say.

The only downside of the night for me were the various hints that Hollywood is still a Boy’s Club. Of the winners, only three were women (two of which were for the Actress categories). The only woman to win from outside of an all-female category was Megan Mylan for “Smile Pinki,” a documentary short. Penelope Cruz, and Kate Winslet were the other female winners.

One instance of this bias also showed itself on the Red Carpet. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were walking the Carpet separetly, and doing interviews one right after another. Ryan Seacrest interviewd  Zac first, asking him what he was doing in the show, and what his next project was. Five seconds later, he turned to Vanessa and started their interview by asking “Who are you wearing?” They then proceeded to discuss the dress, and what she was doing in the award show, before moving on. Ryan didn’t ask Vanessa what her next project was, or really any semi-relevant question. It was all fluff.

I’m trying not to let this stuff darken my impression of the whole show, but I think everyone needs to take note. It’s one of my most far out dreams to one day stand on that stage and accept an award for a film I’ve made. I can only hope that as a woman, I’ll be given that opportunity.

So, in sum, there were some incredibly beautiful and inspiring moments that restored some of my faith in humanity. Let’s hope next year, they can do it again.

Research Methodology For The Lose

Hello, Jigglers! Here I am, browsing Google News, when what do I see but yet another “health” article about food and eating.

Why Saying No to Foods May Be Harder for Women

I am sure you can deconstruct most of the issues with the article yourselves. You’re smart readers.

However, having just returned from a physics conference I would like to note one thing.

For the study, which appears in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers asked 13 women and 10 men about their favorite foods. The participants said they liked a variety of dishes and desserts, including lasagna, pizza, brownies, ice cream and fried chicken.

I am sorry, but a study of 23 people does NOT provide enough data to make statistical inferences about an entire species. NO. Also, did they have a control group of any kind? Did they try this with another group of people who hadn’t been fasting? Were the study’s participants (I like how the word “participants” is used to hide the fact that they’re actually “experimental subjects,” a concept which squicks us out) all in the same age group? Including that information could help to support the thesis of those who did the study, if they compared women of childbearing age to women who were not.

And, of course, they jump right to the “biological imperative” explanation, instead of allowing for factors like, oh, I dunno… Maybe the crazy-ass body pressure that women experience which is so inextricably tied up with food in our dumbfuck culture?

Seriously. You don’t just look at 23 different brain patterns and start claiming things about how evolution and baybeez mean all women are weak-willed face-stuffers.

Scientific research methods. Learn them. Use them. Get back to me later.

Margaret Cho is my Homegirl

Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho

I love Margaret Cho. Her humor, her positivity, her activism, her voice, and her beauty all continuously awe me. She is a proponent of loving yourself, and has such a positivity. She speaks candidly about everything from sex, to body image, to identity, to race. And I find her incredibly inspiring. She’s sexy, funny, and a real role model.

You can imagine, then, how gleeful I was when I found the link to this video at Feministing. I’m about to die with excitement. I did not know she was getting her own show, nor did I expect to to be as great. And I am more excited than anything to see it.

I know some people may not love her as much as I do, but I seriously love her. Feel free to disagree, but Margaret Cho is my homegirl!