Low Maintenance vs Sloppy

Know what’s supe cute? Being low maintainence, apparently. 

Know who doesn’t get to take part in that look? Fat people.

The woman pictured is just wearing jeans (or jeggings), a tee, and a sweater. She’s considered cute, stylish, and low maintainence. Because she’s thin, white, and conventionally attractive. This is nothing personal against that woman or her clothing choices, but she’s a prime example of the double standard. 

Take that same outfit and put it on a fat woman, or a woman of color, or a woman who in any way doesn’t conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. She’s no longer easygoing and cute. She’s sloppy, lazy, not taking pride in her appearance, or some other disparaging description. Depending on where she goes in this outfit, she may end up on a site like People of Walmart, dedicated to mocking and bullying her appearance. 

If you’re thin, white, and pretty, it requires very little effort to come across as stylish. For the rest of us, though? We have to put in ten times the effort and will still be seen by some as slovenly and hideous. 

If this double standard were simply from random people, that would be bad enough, but not necessarily the end of the world. But it also rears its ugly head in damaging ways. At work, the fat person might be told they’re violating dress codes when a thin person in the same outfit is not. If you’re in sweats and you go to the doctor, you might not have your complaints taken seriously. If you fly in comfy clothes you might be the target of more stares and rudeness. But a thin person in leggings and a tee is just being relaxed for the flight. 

It’s not right. People in the same clothes should be judged the same regardless of size, race, beauty, or anything. It sounds trivial but when it can result in professional and health repercussions, it’s not. 

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I Was Rooting For You, Topless Lady

If you’ve been watching news sources over the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed that here in NYC, there has been an inordinate amount of time spent talking about boobs. Specifically, about women who wear paint on their boobs and pose for photos in Times Square.

Of course, this is ridiculous. It’s legal for women to be topless in public in NYC, and there are far worse offenses out there (hey, remember how our police force murdered someone last year?). It’s another way to police women’s bodies and create public shame.

So I want to be on the side of these women. But then I read a quote from one of them:

In the newspaper, instead of reporting the nice things that people say about us, despite the fact that maybe 95 out of 100 people that walk past me smile at me or look happy or start laughing, or say hello, no, there’s just one or two people that say, “Oh, it’s disgusting” or “It’s horrible.” It’s usually—and I hate to be rude about this—overweight women. They’re the ones that are rude to us the whole day. To be honest, men don’t harass us that often. I feel like men are a little bit nervous about us.

It’s the women that come past who are overweight and have their kids around and they’re perpetuating this negative view that their children should be afraid of their own bodies. It makes me really angry because I feel like the naked human body is a beautiful thing and nobody should be afraid of it. These ghetto fat women walk past us with their children and go, “That’s disgusting. Put some clothes on.” I feel like saying to them, “Stop feeding your children McDonalds. Tell your girls that they have beautiful bodies and raise them as strong women to understand that their body is their body and they have control over it. They don’t have to be afraid of being harassed or feeling belittled because they have a beautiful woman’s body.”

So. Yeah. There is no longer anyone in this situation that I feel like I can get behind. I get that these women are trying to do their thing and are getting disproportionately shamed for it, but why bring sizeism and racism into it? How does being fatphobic make people sympathetic to you? It doesn’t. But I also strongly disagree with the powers that be who want to further sterilize the city, or the people who attach shame and ridicule to women’s bodies.

Getting rid of pedestrian plazas is not a good solution. Being topless is NYC is legal, whether you like it or not. Yes, people peddling photos or whatever in Times Square are annoying, but they come with the territory. Ignore them, or, you know, visit some other part of the city, though I can’t guarantee you won’t encounter annoying people or bare boobs anywhere else. But maybe don’t use hatred when trying to get people on your side. Or ever, really.

Shaming the Fat Shamer, Three Years Later 

 
Three years ago I was on the F train headed to the Mermaid Parade when the guy pictured above made me take off my earphones so he could tell me to go running for an hour each day. 

I proceeded to not only take his picture for future shaming purposes, but also to tell him to mind his own business and where he could stick his “advice.” And I did it so loud that half the train car was side eyeing him. 

It’s one of my prouder moments. And it felt good. I wish we lived in a world where this wasn’t necessary, but I also think fighting back is great when you can do so safely. I’d like to believe that man will think twice before fatshaming someone else, so that’s at least a small victory.