Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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Explaining fat shaming to my mother.

The other day, I needed to go to the mall to acquire a new bra. This happens periodically. It's a normal thing. I go to the mall for my bras because that's where the Lane Bryant is, and they make the best bras for my particular body type. What's more, I already know which of their bras will work for me and which won't, which takes a lot of the sting out of shopping. I've worked very hard to get to a place in my life where I could say "I need a new bra" and follow it up with "Let's go to the mall," rather than "Let's repair the old one with some safety pins and maybe a strip of duct tape, and I can buy the new one next month." This doesn't mean that I want to spend an hour digging through the racks, looking for the one that's Just Right. I want to know my options, I want to know what I'm buying, and I want to just do it already.

"Isn't this the store that made that ad?" Mom asked.

"Which ad?"

"The one they wouldn't show on TV."

"Oh. Yeah."

For those of you who managed to miss this whole thing, Fox and ABC refused to air a Lane Bryant commercial, saying that it was inappropriate, despite the fact that both networks air commercials for Victoria's Secret. Now, I've seen both commercials, and if you want to talk comparative nudity, well. The new line from Victoria's Secret is actually called "Naked." The Lane Bryant lingerie, on the other hand, covers a lot more, while committing the dual sins of a) being made for plus-sized women, and b) being reasonably attractive. That's obscene! We can't show that to our children, especially not during Dancing With the Stars, a show that features women wearing costumes that are closer to rumor than reality! That would be wrong! That would be...that would...

Wait, what?

Of course, the networks insist that this isn't a comment about Lane Bryant's lingerie being worn by plus-size models, even though, well, it's either that, or a comment on the immorality of wearing bras that come in colors. Rainbow Brite should be ashamed of herself. Meanwhile, over in Victoria's Secret-land, all the models are modestly wearing undies the exact color of their skins, making them look totally nude if you're not paying close attention. Much more modest.


"Because the models were fat, Mom."



"But that doesn't make sense."

"Tell me about it."

The current culture of fat shaming isn't just depressing; it's outright scary. It's dehumanizing. Fat women are "whales" and "cows," not just, I don't know, fat women. Women come in all shapes and sizes! Women are healthy at all shapes and sizes! My youngest sister weighs about fifty pounds more than I do, and she is smoking hot, like a plus-sized Betty Page gone tattoo model. She dresses like she's hot, she walks like she's hot, and you know what? She's hot! She's also healthy, active, smart, and all those other things that some people think "fatties" aren't allowed to be. She looks better at her current weight than I ever would, because she's built that way.

This may be a bit of a shock to some of the folks out there deciding what is and isn't "decent," but not all bodies were created from the same template. If Kate and I were to eat identical things and do identical amounts of exercise for a week, we would not lose identical amounts of weight. If Vixy and I were to each gain ten pounds, they would not distribute themselves in identical places on our bodies. I know people who can gain weight on nothing but broccoli and lean meat, and people who can lose weight on a diet of chocolate bonbons. Fat shaming solves nothing. It doesn't make the world's plus-sized population disappear in a puff of Twinkie-scented smoke; it just makes teenage girls develop eating disorders, grown women lie about their weight, and small children tell their mothers they don't want dinner because they're scared of getting fat.

"That's just stupid."

"I know."

"Those people should cut that out."

Also, on the practical side of things...women are more likely to go out in public, and exercise voluntarily, when they're wearing good bras. This goes double for plus-sized women, who are (surprise, surprise) more likely to have large breasts, and thus need the support and stabilization of a good bra. So if the goal is really making all the fat women into thin women, they should be getting government bra service as an incentive to get out and move around more. Not that exercise is the absolute answer for everyone—that's another can of worms, and goes back to my "not all bodies were created from the same template" point—but hell, it would be a start. Saying "ew, that's indecent" doesn't do anybody any good. Except maybe the viewing public that gets spared the sight of all those "fatties," and well. I'm not so concerned about them in this particular situation.

"I wish they would, Mom."

"Tell them that."

Tags: cranky blonde is cranky, don't be dumb, my mom is nuts, so the marilyn

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