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.


The Other

I Stumbled across this image in a fit of boredom today. I didn’t run across it in any particular context (though the URL seems to indicate it was part of a news article), so just looking at it straight up, what do you think of it?

On the one hand, I think it’s a great idea to have bigger seats available, to accommodate a wide range of sizes. On the other hand, why have just one? Why not make ALL the seats bigger? Having just one like that is awful othering. Plus, what if you want to sit in a bigger seat, but the only one in the row is already taken? I also find it interesting that it seems to be set at a lower height than the other chairs. I am not sure what the logic behind that would be.

Do you see this as a sign of progress? Or do you think it’s more like a finger-shaking, shaming thing?

Update: Commenter BamaGal notes that the chair is probably blue and lower to the ground because it is meant to be a handicap chair. I apologize for not considering that possibility before – that would be my able-bodied privilege, there.

I have now done what I should have done in the first place and gone to the source URL and searched The Sun’s website for the article for which the image is an accompaniment. Here is the article:

SPECIAL chairs for obese passengers have been installed in Brazil’s trains and stations to cope with the country’s soaring obesity rate.

The seats are nearly twice as wide and can support passengers weighing up to 40 STONE without breaking.


Priority ... for larger passengers

But Metro bosses in Sao Paulo say the chairs are being ignored by bigger passengers, possibly because they are too ashamed to use them.

A sign above each seat shows a cartoon of a bulky passenger that reads: “Priority chair for obese people.”

One manager said: “It may be that they don’t want to think of themselves as fat or that they resent being put in with pensioners and the disabled.”

Does this added context change how you feel about the chairs?

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.

Speaking Up

There’s a great post up over at Big Fat Deal answering a question by a newcomer to fat acceptance about when to speak up. She asks, because recently she lost about 20lbs, and is just now seeing friends who she hasn’t seen since she lost it.

Many people haven’t seen me at all this summer, and I am now dealing with lots of weight-less comments about how much weight I’ve lost, and how “good” and “healthy” I am. These comments now make me extremely uncomfortable. This happened the other day with a coworker, and I tried to diffuse the situation by saying that unfortunately I realized that for me, weight loss actually came with a lot of unhealthy behaviors (and muscle loss), and I don’t diet any more and try to practice health at every size instead. It resulted in colossal awkwardness and blank stares.

When I found FA it was after a similar experience. I’ve been pretty vocal about how I had lost about 40lbs while in Ecuador. Immediately after I returned, I found FA and had to deal with the compliments that resulted from losing weight, and trying to find a way to explain to my friends, and sometimes even strangers, my new feelings of self-acceptance.

Unfortunately, this is something that I still find difficult. Although I haven’t gotten weight loss compliments in a while, I still feel like it’s difficult to decide when to speak up. While at school most of my friends and even some people who I didn’t really know were well aware of my fat acceptance activism. Although I didn’t drill it in to the campus like I wanted, I was pretty vocal about being size- and body-accepting. Most of my friends read this blog, and a lot of the campus saw my fat documentary and/or heard me read from my poetry collection. It’s something that I had to be vocal about at that time in my life.

Now, as I continue on to new places with new people, I find it a bit harder. When I started working at the internship I’ve worked at this summer, I wasn’t sure who to tell and what to tell them. I was nervous, sometimes embarrassed, to explain where I was coming from. It was pretty easy, eventually, for me to spread word that I am a size acceptance activist because we’re working on a show about women’s health. When I expressed an interest in interviewing Kate Harding, I had to also explain my fat activism.

So somehow, without really meaning to, I’ve informed almost everyone in my life thus far that I am a fat acceptance activist. And maybe that’s the key: I identify myself as an activist. For me, being a member of this community means I speak out about it. Now, that’s not the same for everyone, but I think that’s why it’s seemingly easy for me, and I’ve figured out, in some wonky way, how to answer those complimenters.

I say, “Thanks.” because I know they mean well. And then, next time I see them I tell them about my blog, or my video work, or my poetry collection, or when they ask about me I tell them who I am. If they’re a friend, I wait until the appropriate time to explain fat acceptance to them. But part of my whole existence in this community is to spread the word. So that’s what I do.

Anyway, I encourage you to read the post and comments at BFD. People have some great suggestions. This is just my meditation on it.

Laughter Yoga

Today, as one of the segments I’m producing for my internship, I went to a Laughter Yoga class. That’s right Laughter Yoga. This delightful practice consists of breathing exercises and self-induced laughter, both of which aid in the release of stress. It is entirely based upon the idea that your body cannot tel the difference between real and fake laughter (and often, neither can you). I spent a hilarious hour with a bunch of strangers, and I laughed almost nonstop. It’s an incredible experience.

Laughter Yoga was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria of India when, according to one of the instructors I interviewed, Dr. Kataria, after doing research on the benefits of laughter, went to the park and asked over 100 people to join him in laughter. He ended up with a group of five. They told jokes and made each other laugh for the first few weeks, but quickly ran out of jokes. In the end, after more research, Dr. Kataria realized that your body reaps the same benefits from fake laughter as it does from real laughter and therefore, they didn’t need a reason to laugh! Thus, laughter yoga was born, incorporating fake laughter (which turns into real laughter) with breathing exercises. Today there are thousands of Laughter Clubs, including the Laguna Laughter Club, which meets every day on Laguna Beach, 365 days a year, rain or shine, holiday or no.

But really, it’s an amazing thing to do. The women I spoke to said that after practicing for so long, they find themselves laughing at things that used to annoy them or make them angry. They find themselves using humor to keep them from getting down, even when they’re alone. And not only does Laughter Yoga make you feel emotionally happier, but it also has numerous health benefits, including:

  • Blood & all major organs are fully oxygenated leaving us bursting with energy
  • Blood pressure drops, circulation improves and pulse rate drops
  • Depression is lifted, even chronic depression is often cured
  • High endorphin levels put us in a great mood and reduce any aches & pains
  • Immune, digestive & sexual systems that are switched off by stress are switched on
  • Self confidence is boosted, communication skills and creativity are boosted
  • Our lymphatic system is massaged and our immune systems boosted
  • Stress levels reduce by 75% or more and we become more stress resistant

Add in the fact that, in terms of cardio stimulation, 10 minutes of hearty laughter are the equivalent of 30 minutes on a rowing machine, and I’m sold.

But beyond everything else, it’s an amazing opportunity to be carefree and happy, like you were when you were a child. The average child laughs up to 300 times per day. The average adult, 15-20 times. In the process of growing up, we lost a lot of the joy in our lives. I sincerely hope that I can work to change that in my own life. And laughter yoga is certainly one way to do it. It makes me sure that we can find joy even through our own personal gloom. Or, well, maybe that’s just the laughter talking…

Long time, no Blog

If there are any of you still out there, I’m terribly sorry. Terribly terribly sorry. I’ve been a horrible blogger, despite having more free time on my hands than normal. It is my sincerest hope that I’ll get things back up and running around here ASAP. I have a lot of exciting things to share!

This summer I’ve been interning with a PBS channel, working on a TV show about women’s health. It has been glorious and exactly the sort of work I want to continue doing. I even found a way to get a bit of Fat Acceptance into the mix! I had the brilliant opportunity to interview the fabulous Kate Harding, founder of Shapely Prose and coauthor of Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body. It was a really great experience, and I should be posting some of the interview audio here once I finish editing it.

Unfortunately, my internship will be ending this coming week, and I’ll be moving back home for the meantime while I continue to look for a job. It’s a hard time to be looking for jobs! And I find myself experiencing a bit of a quarter-life crisis, missing school, not knowing what I’m going to do with myself from now on, but I’m trying to trust in the universe that things will come together.

So, though this is a pitifully content-less post, I hope that I’ll have some good stuff up later this week. In the meantime, thank you for reading and sticking around.

Fat Girl with a Degree

Receiving my Diploma!

Receiving my Diploma!

Ay ay ay! Obviously, I’ve fallen off the blog-wagon because I just today stumbled my way back over here after a long last quarter in school and saw Jamie’s lovely post in tribute to me. That was too sweet, Jamie. Thank you so much!

So, I guess it’s not going to come as too much of a shock when I say that I’m now a fat girl with an undergrad degree! I hope this will justify many of my long absences from the blog. I can sincerely hope that I will update more, but I won’t make any promises, since I tend to get deepy engrossed in things going on in real life. I’m about to move to Chicago for the summer, and we’ll see how that goes! I have an internship with PBS! Woo!

Anyway, I’m a fat grad, and also a 22-year-old fattie. My birthday was the same day as my graduation. It was quite exciting. And, in case you’re wondering, it was just a beautiful and wonderful weekend. I had the honor of giving the Baccalaureate address the night before, and to top everything off, won two awards in creative writing at the Senior Awards Ceremony. (Pretty good for a non-English major, eh?) My family came to stay for the weekend, and that just made it so much better.

Of course, like everything in life, the build up to the end has resulted in me feeling somewhat bereft now that it’s over. But hopefully I’ll get my life in order. I have faith in myself and my abilities.

So, to end, I want to thank all of you for supporting me and reading this blog. I know we’ve gone through some times of radio silence, and I appreciate you all sticking around. Here’s to better blogging and a bright and shiny future!

A Tribute

I would like to make a toast, to a spectacular, special, splendid young woman.

Chrissy has been my best friend since the 6th grade. As of this year, that’s half our lives. In a few short days, Chrissy will be graduating from college with a degree and a passion. (As so often happens, the degree and the passion are in two different subjects. ^_~) In the 11 years since I’ve known her, Chrissy has managed to change and grow while still ultimately remaining the same wonderful girl I fell in love with. I won’t presume to tell you about how she has changed inside – I’m no mind-reader. But I can tell you that for 11 years she has inspired me to be a kinder and more compassionate person (though I’m sad to say I often ignored that inspiration).

Chrissy is going places. I’m completely awed by her mad videography skills. I’d lay odds on watching her documentaries on television someday. I am so proud to know this woman! When I see her face after one of our long separations, I know instantly that I am in the company of someone amazing. I’m not sure how one human being can be so full of exuberance and drive, but Chrissy manages it, with aplomb and dignity.

I probably won’t be able to attend her graduation ceremony, due to uncontrollable circumstances in my own life. But I will be there in my heart, watching a visionary, an activist, my best friend as she takes her first steps into the rest of her life.

To Chrissy! *clinks glass* 😀

P.S. Happy Birthday, too!

OT: Tarot

The Fool from the World Spirit Tarot

The Fool from the World Spirit Tarot

So for a while I’ve been thinking about picking up tarot card reading. I don’t really know what got me thinking about it, but I got this little book ages ago for a stocking-stuffer or small little gift, or something, and it came with a mini (like the size of a dime) deck of tarot cards.  I recently found it, and read through it, and have since decided that I want to learn more about Tarot. The contemplative and meditative uses of tarot appeal to me a lot. It seems like fuel for an introspective, open and contemplative individual–a way to delve into thinking about problems.

So, I started looking to get started. Apparently, there’s a standard deck of cards that most people suggest you get, the Rider-Waite deck. Of course, I looked at it, and decided, NO WAY am I getting that deck. First of all, I find the artwork kind of dull (although the have since released a ton of variations on it). Secondly, it seems to be full of white men. It just…didn’t really speak to me at all. Of all the articles I’d read, you should pick decks that really speak to you. Most people recommend that you learn on the standard decks, and then move on to others. But I’m not sure if I can afford a whole collection of other decks. So I want this one to be really important to me.

So,  I started looking at other decks, trying to find one whose artwork spoke to me.

Now, I should explain, I believe in fate–at least to the extent that I enjoy when life surprises me in a positive way. I love the serendipity of stumbling across a song I love on the radio. I love the instances when something from one conversation or class I had seems to trickle right over into another conversation or class. I love it when the universe aligns in some way to surprise me. But I also try to follow my insticts. I say, “Well, I feel like this is right. Let’s see where it takes me.”

It only seemed natural to follow this same belief in looking for a tarot deck.  And lo and behold, the first deck I clicked on was the  World Spirit Tarot deck! This deck is absolutely beautiful to me. Not only is multiracial, inclusive of all genders (sometimes not even defining the gender). And the cherry on top: IT HAS WOMEN OF SIZE! It is said to be a vibrant and joyful deck (see The Fool above), and I agree. It seems like a great fit for me. The images felt real and personal.  It just seems so…right for me.

Anyway, after looking through a ton more decks, I ended up ordering the World Spirit deck, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I know that it will be different to start with, but it’s apparently based off the Rider-Waite deck in a way, though slightly different. Plus, they make me excited to use them.

Does anyone have any tarot deck suggestions for me? I would love to hear anyone’s stories of tarot, too! I find there are all sorts of people who come here with experience in so many things, so I’m sure there’s someone out there who loves tarot!