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The Real World is Unretouched

May 1, 2009

Perusing my blog aggregator today I came across this interesting post at Les Feministes on how much it sucks to be a skinny hipster boy. (And immediately sent him to Volcanista‘s post on Thin Privelege, though I couldn’t find an article on middle class hipster boy privelege.)

Ultimately , I think he touched on a key point that I think comes up all the time in the size acceptance movement as well as feminism.  Essentially the idea that our bodies should not be  for public consumption or commentary.

If you think about it, none of us really have any right to an opinion about other people’s appearance, especially their bodies.  What makes us think that it is acceptable to label people, fat, thin, ugly, pretty etc?

People’s bodies, their height, their physical being, is something they themselves have very little control over.  (Unless they are a plastic surgeon who operates on themselves… EW)  Genetics, and body chemistry play a much larger role in what we look like than, really, anything else.  Ultimately phsical characteristics determine who we want to mate with, but what makes us think these things are worth commenting on?

You have a nice ass! Uhh… thanks I’ll tell my mom?  You have such a pretty face!  Uhh… Thanks I’ll tell my mom?  I mean really, what is all this about?  Can’t we just boil it all down to “If you were interested I would have sex with you” rather than making it some complicated thing about who is a worthy human based on social and internal ideas of attractiveness?    I think…. I’m rambling.  Storytime I think.

When I was home a few weeks ago for a friend’s shower, her aunt straight out challenged me to a dieting contest.  Now, I recognize, that this comment actually reflected her own insecurities about her current weight and that she was hoping that I would share in her insecurities.  (Instead, I told her about how I don’t diet and showed her a bunch of awesome plus size fashion sites.)  But what right did she have to just assume that I would prefer to lose wieght?

For that matter what right does anyone have to presume a thin person wants to or should GAIN weight?

I think a lot of our current belief that we have a right to tell other people how they should look comes from a few places:

1. For their “health” not only are fatty fat fat people going to DIE OF TEH FATZ, but y’know, thin can people look like they are going to die of, well, TEH THINS.

2. The entire universe, except for the real life people we interact with, is aribrushed and coiffed for our consumption.  Most of the images we see are idealized.  Even my stupid Windows backdrop right now is an idealized version of a verdant feild with blue sky.  That’s just stupid.

3. With Bonus, we’re so insecure about our own appearance that we want to share that with everyone else.  Whether that is, trying to get them to commiserate about what we percieve as a mutual issue, or trying to make them feel bad because they fit into societies idealized vision of hawt.

So yeah, probably covering no new ground here.  And my brain is now empty of thoughts.


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  1. Thanks for linking to Les Feministes! Josh posted the first new-opening of our blog and hopefully we’ll have regular updates going all the time again 🙂 I am reading your blog now too (I subscribed because I’m an RSS nerd like that) and I love it! Mind if we blog-roll you?
    -Leanne @ Les Feministes

  2. Hey Leanne, Thanks for stopping by! Srlsy, lets get some reciprocal blogrolling going down. 🙂

  3. It’s not much of a secret that absolutely hate that people pass judgment on other people’s appearance, whether positive or negative. It just bothers me that people feel they have the right to remark on the way anyone, especially a perfect stranger, looks.

    I’m probably a bit too hard-line about it, but that’s me. I think it’s very useful to question why we feel the need to judge people’s appearance in the first place. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we assign status, right off the bat, based on the way people look. And what is with our need to assign that status? I could go on and on.

  4. I think a lot of it just has to do with seeing weight as controllable. People give advice about hair, nails, clothes – but not, “Oh, have you considered growing taller?” or “You’d be so much more attractive if you were a little shorter.”

  5. littlem permalink

    “I couldn’t find an article on middle class hipster boy privelege”

    Don’t sweat it. I believe that could plausibly read as “the rest of the internetz”.

  6. Frankincensy permalink

    “the idea that our bodies should not be for public consumption or commentary” – this nails it for me. Like Josh, I’m aware that my thinness puts me in a privileged position, and the last thing I want to do is whine about how hard it is to be skinny. However, I don’t think anybody deserves to hear judgemental comments on their weight, however fat or thin they are and however “unhealthy” they may look to observers.

  7. The thing that bugs me about Josh’s post is that he pulls the “people think it’s okay to say ‘you’re too thin’ but not to say ‘you’re fat'” — there’s your thin privilege right there. Otherwise it’s a good post, but man, welcome to the world. People get called fat by everyone, everywhere.

  8. I’m going to go on a limb and say I think you are wrong when you say “none of us really have any right to an opinion about other people’s appearance.”

    I would like to think that I have a right to my opinions on any subject that I care to have an opinion on. Yes, my opinions may be stupid or ignorant, but I think as a human being I have a right to think what I want to think.

    Censoring thought is not the answer. Even if we don’t agree with others thoughts do we really want to start telling each other what to think?

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