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09 June 2007 @ 09:28 am
[feminism] Fat, Ugly, and Pissed  
There's a cycle in superhero comics(1) which I am violently tired of seeing.

Step One: Someone (in this case, Misty Lee(2) in a podcast) says something along these lines, "usually, the strongest and loudest protest over sexy things come from ugly fat girls." Which is problematic and enfuriating for so many reasons.

Step Two: Someone (in this case, Tamora Pierce(4) in her blog(6)) responds in an articulate and often angry manner. Which is wonderful.

Step Three: Fans everywhere come out of the woodwork to prove that they are not "ugly fat girls" by showing pictures or mentioning their physical stats or whatever.

Hold up a minute.

How is that response any better than the original person calling them "ugly fat girls" in the first place?

Often people start calling for picture posts to prove they are not "ugly fat girls". This not only derails the argument into a discussion on whether or not the women in the pictures are ugly or fat or neither or both, but it also feeds into the idea that being ugly or fat is a bad thing.

Let me repeat that, because that's the point to this rant: When people make it a point to prove they are not "ugly fat girls" they are exacerbating the idea that being fat makes a woman ugly, or that being an ugly woman or a fat woman is bad.

Here are some of the responses I've seen to the statement that only "ugly fat girls" complain about the treatment and presentation of women in superhero comics. Yes, these are out of context and I haven't kept any names with them, for a reason. (Also, often they are paraphrased in order to keep the anonymity intact.)

+ post pictures so we can be our own "ugly fat girls" club (with deep and obvious sarcasm)
+ I'm (insert stats for socially acceptable beauty) and I'm a feminist
+ I'm no size four but my health stats are perfectly normal
+ so many pictures posted with some sort of statement like "See? I care and I'm not an ugly fat girl."
+ I get tired of being told that I'm ugly and fat just because I care.

So on and so forth.

Most of the time, I don't think people actually intend to come across like they must defend their true non-fat, non-ugly appearance, but that's how it does come across, especially when it happens so often and so close together. It just builds up and the overall statement I come away with is "So-and-so is wrong, we're not ugly fat girls, look at how beautiful we really are."

That's not the point, on so many different levels.

What does that say to the feminist fans who are "ugly fat girls"?(5) Are our opinions unwelcome because we can be used as proof in these smoke-screen arguments which detract from the actual problems?

Sometimes that's how it feels.

So while we're talking about how superhero comics (among other things) present a false image of female beauty, if we could stop buying into the idea that being fat and ugly, or even just being called fat and ugly, is a bad thing, that would be great. It would certainly do wonders for my temper.

Because damn it, I am fat, and I am ugly, and I am pissed.


(1) And in other areas of fandom, but this is one I'm seeing over and over again lately, so this is the one I mention.

(2) No relation. Sometimes I dislike having such a common last name.(3)

(3) Yes, okay, all you Smiths can tell me I have no idea.

(4) As a young, impressionable child, I fell in love with her Song of the Lioness Quartet and then The Protector of the Small and then, practically everything she's ever written. Finding her blog online has just cemented how much I hero worship her.

(5) Do not step in here and try to tell me how non-fat or non-ugly I am. Obviously ugly/non-ugly is a completely subjective argument, and I am fully aware that people look at me and see ugly and non-ugly, depending. There is no saying I'm not fat. I am fat. I'm happy to be fat. Most important, rushing to tell me I'm non-fat and non-ugly actually fits right into the problem here, which is, by telling me I'm not those things, it makes being those things something bad, something to avoid.

(6) Seriously, though, go read what Ms. Pierce has to say. I love her response.
nil8 on June 9th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
It's immature lashing out. It's the same idea as any idiotic statement.
Getting annoyed and angry doesn't get far. Debunking their statement(which you did), doesn't help either. Stupid things come out of people's mouths constantly.
Like Ann Coulter.

Does this mean that you can't pick apart the ramblings of some fool? Not at all. It means you're time is worth more than that.
Ignore the ignorance and slowly, you see less of it. You will start to naturally filter it out of your mind.

The arguments about the nature of beauty and it's validiation do detract from this debate, but, as all of us smart little boys & girls know, beauty is subjective to anyone who is honest with themselves about what they want in someone else.

You should go do something you've been feeling like doing and haven't made the time for. It would make you feel better. Have a great day and don't let some dumb cunt foul it up for you. -Mk
Carla M. Lee: anna confrontationcarlamlee on June 12th, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
The thing is, it isn't Ms. Lee's comments which upset me -- I'm used to stupidity like that, and while it does make me angry, I already know how to respond to it -- it is the response from my community which has been pissing me off right and left lately.

I won't ignore the ignorance, though. Talking about it, sharing my anger, making people think, those are the only ways I have available online to make a difference, to change the world.

Doing things like this, opening conversations which are spreading and which are making people I respect consider new sides of the subject, is one of the most worthwhile things I can do with my time.

I'm going to change the world, Mike.

I did go do something I loved, though, the ride with Dad and seeing you for a minute, so that was good. I'm glad you're thinking about me, bro.