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Posts Tagged ‘body image’

PETA Save the Whales Obesity Billboard

Dear PETA:

Sometimes you have pretty cool campaigns.

Sometimes you miss the mark entirely and produce crap like this.

I don’t know who thought “YES, this is a great idea! Let’s use one of the most derogatory words for fat women and put it on a HUGE billboard and imply that women are whales that need to be saved from their gross obesity through vegetarianism (because only meat-eating women are obese)! This will entice people to become vegetarians! GENIUS!”

No. You fail.

And “trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach”?

Really? Really, PETA?

I’m not even going to go into their implications that ceasing consumption of meat equal healthiness (because that’s just not true) and that the differences between skinny/fat and vegetarian/omnivore are all caused by the meat or lack thereof in people’s diets. Jeez.

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PETA’s press release:

Jacksonville, Fla. — A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight — and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball — that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini. The ad shows a woman whose “blubber” is spilling over the sides of her swimsuit bottom and features the tagline “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETA.”

Anyone wishing to achieve a hot “beach bod” is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. The meat habit can ruin the fun in other ways too. Consuming meat and dairy products is conclusively linked to heart disease, diabetes, and several kinds of cancer — not to mention higher rates of infertility in women and impotence in men. And not only is following a healthy plant-based diet good for the environment, it is also the best thing that anyone can do to help stop the routine abuse of animals raised and killed for food. Animals on factory farms are subjected to mutilations like debeaking, tail-docking, and branding (without any painkillers) and are often slaughtered and dismembered while still conscious.

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.

This makes me cry inside. Actually, it mostly just really fucking pisses me off because this body-shaming shit really needs to stop. Implying fat women are whales and that they’re covered in blubber and just…augh! I’m tired of people producing trash like this, especially after hearing stories (or witnessing them) about women whose in-laws didn’t accept them and even tried to sabotage their marriage because they (the women) were obese and “unworthy of [the in-laws’] son.” I’m tired of seeing girls whose diaries constantly talk about their weight and how they need to lose 20 pounds NO MATTER WHAT THEIR ACTUAL WEIGHT. I’m tired of the food-diaries with “today I ate 10 grapes, 2 Fig-Newtons, and a Jell-O cup.” I’m tired of the girls who are unhappy because they never manage to be “skinny.” I’m tired of people talking SHIT about others because they’re fat, speaking like they have a right to insult them just because of their weight and body shape. It’s not fucking okay.

And I realize all these examples were female-oriented, and I acknowledge that obesity and body-shame affect everyone to some degree, but I’m just speaking for myself and what I’ve been seeing lately. And, to clarify, I’m not tired that these situations exist–more like the REASONS WHY they exist. I’m not blaming the victims of fatphobia. The opposite, actually. I’m tired that people are made to feel unworthy, unlovable, unattractive, and ashamed. THAT’S why I’m tired of seeing these situations repeat themselves constantly.

I originally posted this on my personal blog, but everything after the PETA press-release is new text. This ranting is a result of looking through my journals from when I was younger (1996-2003) and being appalled at how much I mentioned weight. I spoke to a friend about it and she had the same issue, but a hundred times worse. I at least was fairly happy with myself most of the time? Ugh. I’ll probably post about the “findings” from reading all these journals. They’re really weird, considering the person I am now.

Anyway. I blogged more extensively about my thoughts on PETA and their advertising campaigns. Feel free to check it out here and comment if you wish. I posted this entry because it was much shorter and less pic-spammy than the one I’m directing you towards. ^_^

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3325145626_c58349526e_oIt ain’t easy being “obese” on a campus where the trend is to be a skinny hipster.  A place like Vassar should have so many happy wonderful women, and yet hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear some sort of comment come out of my mouth or a friend’s that has some self-hating laced with it, the vast majority of the time referring to weight and body fat. Even my professors who have been so formative in the development of my own feminism all seem to find themselves at the gym running on treadmills like hamsters on a wheel, claiming they need to slim down. It’s hard to find a balance in all of this. Sure we all want to be healthy and beautiful, but what if we already are?

For pretty much as long as I can remember doctors have been telling me I’m overweight or obese and that if I don’t do something about it there will be deadly consequences. Up until recently I’ve always accepted this as fact. And maybe in some ways it is. A lifetime of being the pudgy kid with glasses who gets picked last for kickball is certainly not the ideal healthy life style. And I do have to worry about health, as we all do for some reason or another. My mother has type 2 diabetes as did my grandfather. It’s in my genes, I’m at risk.

But after reading Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose and seeing her BMI Project, I’m starting to wonder just how seriously I should take my doctor’s warnings. Confession: I’m 5′ 6” and a fairly steady 190 pounds, BMI 30-31. I know, it’s alarming. But before we get all fat-phobic on me, let’s think about what that actually means. Last summer I hiked up and down Cadillac Mountain with relative ease. When not at school I travel my hilly hometown nearly all by foot. In high school and for the past few summers when I worked at the school, I walked every weekday a total of roughly 2.5 miles because I don’t have a car. While I’m not very fast, I can swim for pretty long periods of time without too much effort. I take a pretty strenuous yoga class once a week and while I’m no yogi, I manage to achieve new strength and peace with each class. My last checkup alarmed my doctor, because wouldn’t you know I have excellent cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels, despite being “Obese” according to my BMI. Everything about my health was normal or better than normal. But still my doctor pulls me into her office to have a “serious talk” with me. It’s time to take care of my health she says. If I don’t do it now I’ll regret it my whole life. But what if I’m actually healthier just as I am?

Could I eat more veggies? Of course, even as an aspiring vegan, I know I don’t eat enough leafy greens and too many french fries. Should I go exercise more? Sure, and so probably should you, dear reader of the interwebz. But maybe as a young non-smoking 20 year old I’m a lot healthier and hotter than I, and you, and my doctor give me credit for. And maybe we should stop freaking out that I’m so fat. Because in terms of health, the only thing really “wrong” with me is the amount of vertical force I exert as a result of gravity, which I’m just gunna put out there I kinda have no immediate control over. I’ve been to nutritionists, endocrinologists, therapists, you name it. Is it poor diet? Poor exercise? Thyroid Problems? High Testosterone Levels? After lots of worrying, shame, depression, and loneliness, I still have no definite answers, and I’m still exactly as I am. And It starts to become obvious that maybe no one can fix me because there isn’t anything really wrong with me, despite what doctors and society tells me. Maybe it’s time to stop the hatin’ and just love myself for myself. I know super rad, right?

So if you call yourself a feminist, stop playing into the patriarchy of the health profession, media, and whatever and start to love yourself, and all your womanly curves, lovely lady lumps, or whatever you want to call them. Love the woman at the heart of this fight–yourself.

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