First of all, can we just talk about how AMAZING this TARDIS dress is?! This photo has been making the rounds on BoingBoing, Facebook, and Tumblr, and with good reason. This dress is awesome, and its model/creator, Sasha Trabane, should be SO PROUD. I wish I could make things…
Sadly, it appears no woman can cosplay without some sort of backlash. I saw this composite on my friend Andrea’s FB feed. She got it from Tumblr:
Apparently, a woman cosplaying at ALL, no matter what she looks like, is risking some kind of backlash. If she’s thin (and thus, “hot”), she’s criticized for being “fake.” If she’s overweight, she’s criticized for not being “hot” enough. It seems that women in the geek community just can’t win.
This started as a feminist post, and I could go on and on about the double-standards that women face when it comes to appearance. I could also talk about how hypocritical it is for geeks to tear down other geeks when all we do is complain about how we were torn down in our youths by bullies. But there’s something else I want to talk about.
It’s generally deemed unacceptable to be racist, sexist, or homophobic. Sure, there are plenty of racists, sexists, and homophobes out there, but these days they are more likely to espouse their hateful views in hushed tones, knowing that there might be social repercussions from Society at Large. Religious intolerance runs rampant, from the way Americans see “those people” in the Middle East to the way we fight amongst each other, whether it’s Christians Vs. Other Religions or Believers Vs. Atheists. But again, people that espouse those views know that they’ll have to deal with a powerful backlash. Yet for some reason, it’s totally OK to make fun of fat people. It’s the last acceptable prejudice.
In fact, just yesterday this 82 year old “bioethicist” (is that an actual job?) came out and said that fat-shaming should be used to combat obesity. Like, as a serious medical solution. What’s disturbing is that so many people in the comments at the post I link to agree with him.
Because fat people are fat because they’re lazy. If they would just stop eating so much and exercise more they wouldn’t have this problem. Never mind that overeating can have to do with any number of things, from thyroid conditions, to emotional/psychological issues, to the powerful food industry/lobby providing unhealthy food cheap while driving up prices on food that’s actually good for us. (I’ll never forget the day I saw the list of WIC-accepted food at a supermarket I went to – a person on food stamps can easily purchase potato chips, but not vegetables) According to the World Health Organization:
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:
- an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and
- a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.
Changes in dietary and physical activity patterns are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education.
Individual responsibility can only have its full effect where people have access to a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, at the societal level it is important to:
- support individuals in following the recommendations above, through sustained political commitment and the collaboration of many public and private stakeholders;
- make regular physical activity and healthier dietary patterns affordable and easily accessible too all – especially the poorest individuals.
The food industry can play a significant role in promoting healthy diets by:
- reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods;
- ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers;
- practicing responsible marketing;
- ensuring the availability of healthy food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace.
Hear that, everyone? It’s not about this person or that person being “lazy” or having “no will-power” or “self-control.” It’s about high-income and middle-income countries “improving” our lives so much that we can be sedentary, because we have the technology that allows us all to sit on our asses all day. It’s about those same nations foisting their “energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients” on other countries in the name of global commerce.
You folks have seen Wall-E, right?
And then there are the people who are going through emotional hardships or suffering from depression who, rather than turning to alcohol or drugs for comfort and escape, turn to food. Yet people who abuse food get treated with less sympathy than do those who abuse drugs. Even in the world of eating disorders, people who starve themselves get treated with more seriousness than those who overeat. Why? Why is it easier to see anorexia as an eating disorder, whereas most people see overeating as a matter of personal responsibility? Why is it so easy to take an anorexic seriously, but laugh at the expense of someone who is overweight? Is it because, at least in the case of someone who is anorexic, they are “closer” to a societal ideal than is a fat person? What kind of messed up thinking is that?
I am technically obese. There has never been a point in my life where I haven’t been overweight. I’ve spent the better part of the past year dealing with my issues with food. I know that I’ve overeaten for many reasons, often right after someone would tell me I eat too much. As a big Fuck You. As an exertion of control. You can’t tell me what I can’t or can’t eat! I’ll do what I want! I’m not going to get into it here (at least not now), but if you know anything about me and the things I’ve accomplished in the course of my life, you’ll know that “laziness” has nothing to do with it. I still have a long way to go, but I’m working on it – being more conscious of not just what I eat, but why. Exercising more. Trying to live a life that’s healthier not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, and valuing myself enough to actually deal with the problems and emotions I used to ignore by eating a pint of ice cream a day. Yeah – I used to do that. I don’t anymore.
The point of this rambly post? The next time you feel yourself about to comment on someone’s size, ask yourself why. Why is it that the very sight of someone who is overweight brings out your worst self? What is it about that person that prompts your need to comment? What is there to be gained? Why is it so important to you to vocalize your feelings about someone’s size, a propos of nothing, just because that person has the audacity to exist?
They say that the best way to get what we want is to help others get what they want. Realize that we all have a part to play in each other’s health and well-being, and that we are all best served not by berating each other, but by ensuring that each of us has access to a healthier, happier life.