December 10, 2008

Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality all approved!

What I find problematic with this statement is the notion that Race could be placed under the category of “solved problem?. It is always difficult to make connections to race and size in such rigid ways. Assuming that size is the last “acceptable prejudice? puts race, class, gender, and sexuality in a vacuum in which our society has already overcome the damaging effects of the social creations of these identities. While some people might believe that we live in a post-race world, I strongly disagree that this society has arrived at such a point. Even though some might argue that racism is not de juro, it is obvious that there is still de facto racism. Race prejudice might be unacceptable in many social settings, in many other environments and spaces it still flourishes and lives. I do agree that there are strong intersections between race and size issues, I don’t think we can fully conceptualize those by making such broad, and simplified statements. In both these types of oppressions we have larger powerful institutions that play a vital role in keeping these constructions alive.
I believe it is unfortunate that fatness creates this hypervisibility in our world that allows some people to believe the have the right to put judgment on something so personal. In the movie Shallow Hal, the relationship between the lead roles became completely public due to the size of Rose. In any other “normal? relationship it would have become a social faux pas to pass judgment on a relationship in such a vicious manner. Until the end the relationship had to be constantly defended and explained by the kind, and warm hearted nature of the fat woman. Even though she is “repulsive? I will be with her because I am a “good? person, she has an exceptionally “good? character. This message that was reified in this movie made sure that there wasn’t any normalcy in this relationship. First it never complicated the fact that some outside force was asking for an explanation to be with somebody of a “abnormal? size. This diverted from the fact that there don’t have to special circumstances to fall in love with a fat woman. Second it created the image that only a very forward thinking, good hearted, and geniunly nice person could be in such an abnormal relationship. Third the fat love interest had to be a witty, intelligent, successful, and rich woman in order to overcome her size. At the end, being with her created an entry into a wealthy class bracket and culture of leisure and success.
I do agree that the oppression of size can be more blatant and accepted at times, I don’t think it is the only prejudice that is still in use. A fat black, poor, lesbian, woman will have a very different experience than a white fat woman.

Fatness

Fatness is certainly not the last form of prejudice in our society, but it may be the most prevalent. This may be why Emme refers to it as 'acceptable', though acceptability is a subjective opinion. As to the panel selected by People magazine to discuss "Shallow Hal", there are some interesting discepancies. None of them seem to be a reasonable 'expert' on healthy body images in severly obese bodies. First, at 5'11' and 200 lbs., reportedly a size 14/16, Emme is on the lowest end of the obesity scale. She is a plus-size, and she surely knows how it feels to be made fun of for her size, but being a 16/18 myself, I know how much worse the prejudice is for women much larger than me. The other two women, Jennifer Holliday and Carnie Wilson, are not fat. They both underwent surgeries to not be fat anymore, which I deem is just as radical as extreme dieting or purging to lose fat or maintain a slim figure. Most women, regardless of their size, have internalized our society's expectations and ideals as to how our bodies should look. "Shallow Hal" just brings them into a wider discussion.

Continue reading "Fatness" »

December 9, 2008

Prejudice

I think Emme's claim of fatness being the "last acceptable prejudice" is somewhat true. Some people are still racist but those people are looked at as totally ignorant. It is Not acceptable in be racist in our society anymore. Yet it does seem somewhat acceptable to people to be prejudice against obesity. Weil on supports this point in part because she's white. Holliday however says nothing and probably doesn't think the statement is true because she is African American and also older. She was an actress when African Americans were not that commonly seen in film. She probably experiences racism or notices it while the other two don't because they're white. Emme's statement is definitely problematic because I think a lot of people feel that they're made fun of or prejudiced against and it's looked at as acceptable. Like people with psychiatric problems; while this isn't a physical trait pople still look at these people as 'crazy' and that's accepted. People who are handicapped are also prejudiced against in some ways and movies and shows attack them to make people laugh like in South Park's "Special Olympics" episode. I think it is completely unacceptable to judge anyone by their appearance or be prejudiced against a specific group or type of person.

Continue reading "Prejudice" »

Shallow Hal and Size Acceptance

Emme used to be a plus-sized model and very prominent broadcast journalist for E! Entertainment news. I agree with her statement that far is the last bastion of acceptable prejudice to an extent. I believe it is because the degrading stereotypes and language that surface from the prejudice come from the belief that being fat is a choice. It is a similar type of discriminatory behavior that the gay community has experienced when society wrongfully accepts the belief that sexual preference is a choice. The underlying problem in both fat and gay appreciation is the reluctance of our society to grant lifestyle choice to its citizenry. The more freedom of choice the body politic is given, the less ability any institution (social, religious, political) is given to control individual behavior. Therefore, less control means less power. I think the particular issue of the marginalization of overweight people is troubled in our society because much of it is done not only under the guise of choice, but under the guise of choice for unhealthy behavior. When bodily acceptance is intermingled with a health issue, it becomes easier for people to discriminate against someone whom they presume to be “choosing? an unhealthy lifestyle in the same way they would isolate a drug addict or a criminal for the “betterment? of society.

Acceptance

I believe that Emme’s claim of fatness being the “last acceptable prejudice? is somewhat truthful, yet slightly inaccurate. Fatness certainly is an accepted prejudice, but the same people who make fun of/judge fat people are likely to be the same people who use the word “retarded? when referring to something stupid and are the same people who call others “fags? or “girls.?

I think we have to examine the definition of acceptance. Not everyone appreciates fat jokes, just like not everyone finds racist remarks intolerable. Perhaps fatness is the MOST accepted prejudice, but it is definitely not the LAST. While it is crucial that we examine the prejudice surrounding fat people, we can’t forget about the other prejudices.

Continue reading "Acceptance" »

Emme, Jennifer, Carnie and Shallow Hal

There are some interesting things said in the People Magazine article that had Jennifer Holliday, Carnie Wilson, and Emme discuss their thoughts about the movie Shallow Hall. Emme seems to try to pull out any positive aspects from the movie. She is the only one that thinks any part of it is funny, and the only one that think there can be good that comes from it. I think this is due to her successful career as a plus-sized model. She has found a way to make money off her being a large woman. The other two women, Jennifer and Carnie, have only experienced ridicule and teasing for their sizes. The both of them have struggled to change their size and loose weight, because they are in the performance industry that is accepting of only thin people. I think there is truth to Emme’s statement about fatness being the “last acceptable prejudice.? In our current society, it truly is no longer acceptable to be openly racist, sexist or homophobic, but people still do make fun of fat people. I think this is because people don’t take it seriously as oppression against a group of people. I think many people understand fatness to be something that a person could change, if they tried hard enough, or wanted to. But the reality is that being large is part of some people’s identity, and that will not change. Not everyone is going to be thin, nor does everyone want to be. It is dangerous to say that one oppressions is “the last? one to be fought against, because of course, there are always more. I think we can account for difference and oppression by understanding intersectionality. All people have multiple identities, and this allows for more connections to each other than we can imagine. Understanding intersectionality allows space for inclusion, connection, awareness, and equality through accepting difference and by not striving for sameness.

Shallow Hal and Prejudice

I do consider Emme’s claim of fatness being “the last acceptable prejudice? true to a point. In today’s culture people are so desensitized to the concept of obesity that it is socially acceptable to make fat jokes or a fat-phobic comments. However, along with obese people, gays, lesbians, and those with handicaps (also made fun of in the film), and others still face desensitized prejudice and experience it every day. Most people associate ‘fat’ with ‘unhealthy’, and this is not always the case and people can’t understand why. The problematic element of Emme’s comment is that she completely ignores prejudice against race, gender, class, and religion, though not purposely. Purposefulness aside, these prejudices are still ‘accepted’ but are instead chalked up to ignorance or just not being “pc?. You’d be hard pressed to find a black person who says that prejudice against blacks is over, or a woman who says that gender prejudice has been solved. I think it’s interesting that Holliday did not speak to this point

Continue reading "Shallow Hal and Prejudice" »

Shallow Hal

The idea of beauty as one particular body type has been so deeply ingrained into our culture that often times we forget how prejudicial and marginalizing this can be. Yet people like the Farrelly brothers come along and make horribly offensive films that remind us of this sad fact. Shallow Hal was simply one fat stereotype after another, and it seems hard to believe that anyone could see a positive message mixed in with the constant insults. It was surprising to see that two out of the three women interviewed for the People Magazine article were victims of this system and went under the knife just to change their body in an attempt to conform to the ideal. Emme made some good points about making an effort to change perception, but I did not agree with her when she said that fatness was the "last acceptable prejudice". That statement, and Carnie's comment about how reactions would have been different if it inner beauty was portrayed as white, just seem to pit marginalized groups against each other, which gets us nowhere. Prejudices are just not something that can be compared.

Shallow Messages: Sexism and Weight

The problem I noticed most within Shallow Hal and one that is addressed in the People magazine article is the lack of pride that Rosemary is allowed to have in her body. The film is tremendously sexist- with men dictating the amount of confidence Rosemary can seemingly have in her body. In the magazine article, they ask if Rosemary “not hiding her body? meant the film had positive aspects. In addition to Holliday’s comments that all the shots of her body are “in the context of getting laughs?, each scene in which Rosemary is scene wearing skimpy clothing where she exudes some level of confidence in her body is used as a punch-line. During the pool scene, when she’s wearing a bikini, a child ends up stuck in a tree because of her cannonball. When she’s wearing shorts with her parents her father chastises her and tells her to change into something more “appropriate? for a woman of her size. All of these scenes, and many more, do not portray larger woman’s bodies as a source of pride but rather a source of shame, due in large part to the reaction and prejudices of men. The film is horribly offensive and has a particularly ugly lense through which it views women, especially those who are large.

Beauty is difference!

Emme's claim that "fat is the last acceptable prejudice" is certainly a fair statement coming from someone who obviously knows. I don't disagree with the fact that she feels that way but I do however recognize that there are a lot of ways people can be prejudice and being prejudice against fat people is not acceptable by my standards! Her point is well received but not well articulated because I think the point she is trying to make is about the ridiculous taboo set up around weight in this American culture that is indeed outstanding in comparison to other social taboo's. Also important to note is the fact that prejudice messages are something people often internalize after so many years of hearing how (supposedly) other people feel about you. People begin to hate themselves for what "they think" other people think when really they are the active agent in the "hate game" and people are way more receptive to difference than media makes them out to be. Despite my understanding of internalizing prejudices and forming insecurities as a result, the culture we live in still portrayed the negative messages and is still ultimately responsible.

Continue reading "Beauty is difference!" »

Shallow Hal

The beginning of this article quotes, "PEOPLE turned to three celebrities who have publicly battled weight issues". Already this article is leaning towards the idea that i fat person must battle their weight. I think that's an unfair assumption and as Emme later points out that she is happy and content with her body size. It doesn't sound like she is battling. She goes on to say, " If we start saying, 'I want to be happy with myself and whatever shape I was given at birth,' I think it's going to change." I also found it interesting that they chose to interview two celebrities that had undergone stomach-reduction surgery. The was definitely a contrast between Emme and the other two women. Jennifer Holliday and Carnie Wilson are now considered thin after their surgeries. While it may have been what they wanted for themselves I don't believe that it's sending the right message. We shouldn't have to fix our bodies to fit inside of society's norms. Society should change to include everyone and stop grouping people and projecting a "norm". Wilson said, " The end message was good". I disagree with this. Hal said, "You're beautiful" but that is the onlly thing that is offered and right after he says that they pull the last joke when Rosemary gets in the car. Please. This is offensive.

Response to People Magazine

The People Magazine article was very interesting to me because it shows the kind of dysmorphism we have culturally about weight. These are three women who have been particularly damaged by our culture's obsession with women because they are in the public eye. No doubt the very magazine who was interviewing them in the context of critiquing 'Shallow Hal' has run articles targeting their weight as an object of spectacle!

I think Emme is on the right track with her statement, but that it is quite problematic in other ways. I believe that fat is one of the last acceptable prejudices - something that is so codified into our culture, it leads nearly everyone to believe that health, body size/mass/weight and beauty are all inextricably linked, that bodies which are too large cannot possibly be considered beautiful. The fat positivity movement is still gaining visibility and momentum. For many people, it is hard to 'take it seriously' because it is interpreted as something people of size can change regardless of genetic makeup, economic class, and a million other factors - making it even harder to address. Emme's statement probably comes from the fact that we are conditioned to pit ourselves against other oppressed and marginalized groups to gain that visibility. (I could draw correlations here to the awful "Gay is the new black!" trend in the media since Obama winning the general election and Prop. 8 passing in California along with similar bills elsewhere...) To combat this, the marginalized must work together in solidarity, to draw commonalities between our experience, instead of driving in various wedges between groups.

Shallow Hal


I think Emme’s claim is unfortunately true. However, people who talk openly about fat in a derogatory sense know it is not okay, but they still do it because they know they can get away with it. The “fat jokes? which circulate in our society are considered acceptable, because weight can fluctuate. A fat person can become a thin person, unlike someone of color becoming white. I think it would be a lot different if everyone was born into a specific body type, which physically could not change from its original state. Then I don’t think people would be as derogatory about fat appearances, because its permanent. I do not mean to say race is not an issue, but it is at least recognized, now, as prejudice to make racist comments. I found it interesting that Emme was so relaxed about the film, compared to the other two (which had both undergone gastric bypass surgery) who were deeply offended by the film. Emme was not set on becoming “thin?, but embracing her figure.

Continue reading "Shallow Hal" »

Shallow Hal Wants a Gal

I think that because Emme is shown in a different light than everyone else she gets the brunt of many jokes. She is out there showing off her body by modeling clothes, so she knows that no matter how hard she tries, this is something that isn’t going to change. Either you are big or you are small, and the industry that she is in, there is this idea of what a model should look like, skinny and beautiful. As hard as it is to say, society and Hollywood don’t want to see a larger person walking down the runway, it is just unnatural, and how could a large person be beautiful. Also, for a singer you are not there to see how she looks you are there to see how well she sings, but there is still this idea of because you are on screen you have to look a certain way. Especially in Hollywood there is this idea of what beauty is and what it takes to look good on the camera; there are few women and men that have broken this mold but it still does not change people’s ideas (although some have taken a different perspective to the idea of large). Personally, I think that no matter who says it and how they go about saying it there is always going

Continue reading "Shallow Hal Wants a Gal" »

SHALLOW HAL

I really see truth in Emme's statement that fatness is the "last acceptable prejudice." I think it's interesting that the other two women interviewed are not fat anymore. On some level, I think that Wilson and Holliday hold this prejudice because they couldn't accept themselves as fat women. From the very beginning of the interview, Holliday says she had a difficult time watching the fat Rosemary. Wilson makes a great point that if this movie were about race and not weight, "it would be shocking."
When asked if anything in the movie made them laugh, Emme was the only one that said yes. The fact that she was proud of her cannonballs as a kid shows that she wasn't ashamed of her size the way the other women are. Emme has embraced her size and made a successful career for herself being who she is. The other two women still have issues with their weight, even though they are thin.