The Slippery Slope of Quantifying Privilege

privileged

Normally, I don’t pay much attention to a pop-entertainment, pseudo-news site like Buzzfeed. This gem, however, has been popping up on my Facebook feed left and right over the last few days, with a title too irritating to resist:

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.20.58 PM

I’m already slightly annoyed by the fact that Buzzfeed quizzes exist almost solely for data mining purposes. However, at first glance this quiz seemed like it might actually be a good thing; showing people that they have privilege goes a long way to promote overall social justice. The quiz itself is essentially a checklist that sounds like the most depressing game of “I’ve Never” that’s ever been played:

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.01.58 PM

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So what happened when I checked my privilege?

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“Points of privilege”? Sorry, Buzzfeed, but that is not how privilege works. Privilege isn’t a score card where you tally up all of the social injustices that have been done onto you so you can compare with others. Privilege is context-based, and having privilege in one domain does not nullify discrimination you’ve experienced elsewhere. For example, I have white privilege, cisgender privilege, first-world privilege, but I do not have male privilege, thin privilege, or Christian privilege. My privilege (or lack thereof) in one domain exists separately from any privilege I have in another domain. All of the benefits I’ve experienced from being a white person haven’t been neutralized by the shitty things that I’ve gone through for being a woman, or being fat.

What’s more troubling is how this quiz promotes the comparison of different people’s “advantages”. Quantifying privilege cheapens it, makes it seem like a much less serious issue than it is. It does not promote thoughtful discussion, and in fact it actually serves to put people at odds. Rather than looking at each kind of privilege on its own, at a level that can actually impact social change, it puts people into two categories: privileged or not privileged. The latter get to play “Ain’t it Awful” with their equally unprivileged comrades, while the former can either shrug the information off, or worse, become indignant and perhaps even resentful. How much harder, then, will it be to reach those people, and show them what privilege actually means?

5 Things Shiloh Doesn’t Hate: March Edition

You matter

Believe it or not, dear readers, but I don’t hate everything. There are certain things I am quite fond of, and I want to share some of them with you to help break up the repetitive, indignant ranting that makes up the bulk of the content on TFW. I can be positive! The constant hating just means the things I don’t hate are EXTRA rad.

1. Goodwill’s glorious accessories case

Behold the majesty of the accessory case at Goodwill

Behold the majesty of the accessory case at Goodwill

Most of my friends and acquaintances can attest to the fact that I am proud that my wardrobe is primarily thrifted. A lot of people scoff, thinking that those who wear secondhand clothing have mostly boho or shabby chic aesthetics, but I assure you — my shit looks PULLED TOGETHER, even though I wear an 18W/1X. There is surprising variety if you know how to look and what to look for. The key, however, is having something to tie the outfit together. One can dress relatively conservatively and still look fashionable with the addition of a few accessories. This is an area where the Goodwill in my neighborhood excels. In a fit of ennui (Can one have a fit of ennui? Or would it be more of a shrug?) I headed over to Goodwill in search of nothing in particular. I had been feeling mopey about myself, but didn’t have the scratch for a proper power shopping binge. What costs $3, fits in your hand, and is as versatile as a black t-shirt? A Goodwill necklace. What costs $12 and is four times better than a Goodwill necklace? FOUR Goodwill necklaces.

2. Edible lab experiments I love kombucha. As a gift, my wonderful friend Marianne gave me a kombucha home brew kit. I’ve been trying variations on the recipe. The first batch was a tasty success, though I don’t think I waited long enough for the second ferment to thoroughly carbonate the bottles. The second batch came into contact with some mold spores and needed to be disposed of. The third batch is currently bottled and in the second ferment stage. I just started a fourth batch this evening, this time with green tea instead of the standard black tea. I wish I had cooler glassware and some goggles so I could get my Dr. Horrible on.

3. Well-fitting bras As most plus-sized ladies know, we come in a variety of proportions that vary more extremely than our straight-sized counterparts. That makes finding clothes that much harder — big butts, round tummies, big boobs — no wonder plus-sized clothing is so boxy! It needs to be cut in such a way as to accommodate everyone’s lumps, bumps, and curves, no matter where they are. I personally have a pretty big differential between my bra band size and my cup size. I recently gained some weight, and when from a 36 G (that’s four Ds, people) to a 38 H. Now, I could still technically wear my old bras, though structurally they are designed for smaller boobs and the added strain is spread out through the muscles of my neck, shoulders, and back. If you have chronic back pain, there’s a good chance your bra is the wrong size. I had terrible back pain for years until my friend Susie suggested I go to Nordstrom’s and have a proper fitting. I was cramming my poor sweater puppies into a 38 DD, just because that was the biggest cup size I could find in conventional stores. In case you didn’t know, 38 H is a tough size to find. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to find cheap bras again, and it’s also tough to find bras that aren’t matronly and plain. This month, I lucked out big time.

I was able to get both of these comfortable bras, in the correct size, on sale for less than $50 apiece. They are also the two cutest bras I’ve ever owned. That is a major win for the big boobed.

4. Sleeping in and maintaining fabulous hair I have been trying out different hair colors in an effort to find something a bit more distinctive than my typical mouse-brown. I dyed it auburn for a while, and then dyed over that with black. I’ve been told it’s now “black cherry”.

My hair is pretty wavy, and I usually blow dry it in the morning to tame the bed head. Since springing forward for DST, I’ve been having a hard time waking up. I moved my alarm time up 10 minutes, then 20, then 30, then 30 with a snooze-button press… something had to drop out of my morning routine to make room for the extra zees. That translated into evening washes, and a metric butt-ton of bobby pins.

I generally get lots of compliments for this ‘do, which only reinforces sleeping in. Pretty soon, I’ll be getting up just in time to do my hair and then go back to sleep again. I’ll be the most well-coiffed, well-rested person in the history of this blog.

5. The Fat Word I started writing this blog when I was experiencing a lot of self-esteem problems and personal tumult. I was tired of passively cruising through existence having life happen to me. I needed to have some control over my life, do something positive with my free time, and generally realign my ethics compass. I conceived of The Fat Word originally out of frustration with life. Now that I’ve been writing, I’ve felt more connected not only with those around me, but with a whole community of people who also want to create a positive change in their lives and the lives of others. I have received overwhelming support for this blog from friends and loved ones. The Fat Word has dramatically improved my quality of life. It is something I have control over than is consistently positive and reinforcing, something to look forward to when everything else seems shitty. The Fat Word is perspective, perspective that I badly needed; The Fat Word works to help keep me from hating ME.

You matter, and so do I.

You matter, and so do I.

 

Adventures on Reddit: How I discovered Hamplanets and lost part of my soul

trollbridge

This blog has pushed me out into the internet in a mean way — sink or swim — CONSUME ALL THE MEDIA. I noticed we were getting a lot of traffic from a site called Reddit. Having never used Reddit, I decided to mosey on over there and see what was what.

Later, I was telling this same story to a friend of mine, and when I got to the part where I said, “and so then I headed over to Reddit-”

“NO! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!”

Why, indeed.

Reddit is the Bridge under which the Trolls live.

Now, there are a few sub forums on Reddit that aren’t soul-crushing. Body Acceptance is one of those forums, and was very supportive of our recent Fitspo/Thinspo/Fatspo article. Fatosphere is also a good subreddit, though with fewer subscribers. However, on the whole, it appears REDDIT HATES FAT PEOPLE.

FatPeopleStories is #1 on TFW list of WTF: Reddit Edition. Let’s take a look at their Rules Section (underlining added by TFW):

FPS rules

Hamplanet? Hambeast? Hamentality? What do those words even mean? Maybe I should use some context clues. Let’s look at the logos:

FPS logo

A fat man on a scooter with a pizza flag

FPSlogo2

A laughing whale

A Reddit ranking button with a hamburger and an apple instead of arrows

A Reddit ranking button with a hamburger and an apple instead of arrows

Clearly, it has something to do with fat people. Or sea-going mammals. Or hamburgers. Dammit, Reddit! Explain yourself!

whatishamplanet

Like a ham needs her McDicks? Oh yeah… hamburgers again.

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Hamplanet = Obesity + Shittitude

Hamplanet = Obesity + Shittitude

HAMPLANET = OBESITY + SHITTITUDE

Still confused? Here is further clarification:

hamplanet

This person has added “delusions” to the list of hamplanet requirements. These delusions, in the Redditverse, are known as “fat logic”:

hamplanet

To learn more about fat logic, let’s turn to #2 on TFW list of WTF: Reddit Edition — The FatLogic subreddit.

Example 1: There is an entire thread dedicated to bringing down This is Thin Privilege. The thread claims that not only does TiTP embody and embrace fatlogic, but it perpetuates it to the ruin of all. Here is an exerpt from TiTP explaining the relationship of thin privilege and health (emphasis added by TFW):

Let me make it completely clear from the outset that I do not believe ‘health,’ however defined, is a reasonable measure to determine whether or not someone deserves respect, civil rights, and fair treatment. If you have a problem with how health markets apportion your premiums or where your taxes go, then by all means, rage against the system. But do not think for a minute your assholish behavior towards people you imagine use more than their ‘fair share’ is justified.

In fact, I’ll go further and state that in my opinion the modern conception of ‘health’ is bullshit. It’s an ever-changing, largely arbitrary definition that seems to serve a single purpose: to blame modern ills on so-called ‘unhealthy’ people then define so-called ‘unhealthy’ people as unpopular social ‘deviants’ like fat people, poor people, and the disabled. The philosophy of vaunting the modern notion of ‘health’ to some kind of societal/moral imperative is called healthism.

According to the FPS subreddit, this is classic fat logic.

fatlogic

A obese person recognizes that their increased size means certain problems might arise. They anticipate and accept this. They realize that this is not “oppression” because they have the same rights to marry/adopt/own stuff/use establishments/free speech like everyone else…

… a hamplanet is defined by their delusional and self-centered perception (fat logic), not taking into account courtesy to others.

In sum, Reddit says a hamplanet is a fat person who uses fat logic to justify not taking care of themselves, as well as not taking responsibility for their unhealthy body size and the impact it has on others, and therefore has no business sticking up for themselves against the ridicule and persecution because they brought it on themselves.

My definition of “hamplanet”?

HAMPLANET:

A derogatory term used to describe a fat person who refuses to accept discrimination and derision as part of their daily existence, who strives for positive self-image amidst a mine field of prejudice and thin privilege, and who insists that no matter what someone looks like, they deserve be treated with kindness and consideration.

Fat, Foxy Style — A Pinterest Roundup

fox dress

Adorable animal clothing need not be relegated solely to the closets of cute, thin hipsters. Fat hipsters must also have access to such adorableness. We need not shy away from attention-grabbing graphics and dresses with cute prints.

How cute is this skirt? Fox in the flowers, indeed! What I really like about this skirt is that you can layer and downplay it, or you can feature it prominently by just wearing colorful flats and a long necklace.

The majority of fox-themed clothing I found involved jumpers. This sassy sweater has a large graphic and would look good with a simple pencil skirt or skinny jeans, with some brown, strappy booties.

See? Jumpers. I love this casual, unisex look. The flats pull the whole thing together.

The animal-print leggings and stilettos really make this outfit. I also love the bold, collar necklace.

The addition of the midi skirt and cute pumps supports my assertion that sweatshirts can be classy.

This dress is perfect for spring. Add some combat boots, a belt, and a military-style cardigan, and you’ll be good to go.

In terms of whole-outfit completion, a Fat Fox over at Tumblr really killed it with this little number:

SHE EVEN HAS A FOX PURSE! AND A SNOOD!

I own a lot of clothing items with birds on them. Do you have any cute, animal-themed clothing?

Where are the fat Disney heroines?

Ursula from The Little Mermaid

An online petition exists, created by a high school junior in Virginia, asking Disney to feature a plus size heroine in one of their movies. Specifically, the petition mentions making “plus size princesses in Disney movies”, but I find the “princess” concept in Disney to be generally anti-feminist and wearying. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy this new music video about the real messages our classic Disney princesses send to girls (even though Frozen isn’t exactly a beacon of feminism itself):

I thought I would go through and just do a roll call of fat female Disney characters, in either a major or at least visible supporting role:

As you can see, we have a stunningly diverse array, ranging from soft, grandmother-types, all the way to vengeful, angry, exaggerated villains. Oh wait, those are just two types. Oooh, we also have a little girl! (An aside, Lilo and Stitch is my favorite animated Disney movie. It’s perfect in every way.)

My Ursula ears from Disneyland

My Ursula ears

Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ursula. She’s always been my favorite villain, and I honestly think she’s a better role model for female empowerment than the vast majority of princesses. She knows was she wants, she pursues it ruthlessly, she’s a business woman, she’s powerful, and she’s persuasive. All of this brings me back around to my original point: Where are the fat heroines?

Well, some people flat-out claim it is a bad idea for “health” reasons, like Kathryn Darden, the author of this ugly article from theexaminer.com. A plus size female role model would “only enable and encourage the obesity problem” because girls would emulate the character and subsequently overeat. Darden compares having a plus size heroine to having one who smokes, abuses pills, purges, or cuts on herself. Sorry, Ms. Darden, but your article kind of makes me want to do all four.

Anyhow, we should be happy with what we’ve been offered by Disney so far. They’ve already thrown us fat chicks a few bones:

“Disney has already created Merida with her “plus-size” face, so it’s not like all Disney heroines are stick thin. Snow White is also usually portrayed with a soft, round face. Apparently these heroines are not fat enough…”

Oh, how stupid of me! How could I not think face shape and body type were the same thing? I mean, I should really just stop complaining, because while none of the female characters look like me, at least they don’t ALL look like yard sticks. Maybe the obesity epidemic in America started with Snow White. Everyone saw her fat face and immediately started scarfing down popcorn so they could emulate her. Maybe that’s why movie theaters started upsizing all their snack offerings; they needed to keep up with the Snow White Fat-Face Fad.

Okay, back to the petition. I am signing it. This is my rationale, which I included on the petition itself:

I am signing this petition, not because I actually believe that these sorts of internet petitions actually result in the desired change, but because I want the issue to be considered and discussed. I am a plus size, body positive blog writer, and I strongly feel that all people deserve to feel loved and valued regardless of appearance. Whether or not someone is fat should not impact whether they live “happily ever after”, or are deserving of a Prince Charming to love them unconditionally. In truth, it never really bothered me too much that all of the female leads had cartoon Barbie bods until I read this petition, followed by all the counter arguments. Disney is a mega-corporation in the business of making money, and unless they think a decision will be financially rewarding, they won’t make it. What really pushed me over the edge was the hate. Every argument I read against this petition screamed “FAT IS BAD FAT IS UGLY OMG GROSS”. People are making fun of fat people, curvy people, and even the thoughtful girl who wrote this petition in the first place. Detractors are disguising their prejudice and condescension as “concern” by setting up straw men labeled “Health” and “Obesity Epidemic”. People need to see this hate, READ this hate, and know that it is, in actuality, hate.

I hope you will take the time to go and sign the petition as well, if for no other reason than to promote the dialogue.

Skinny Pam Poovey: Can you hear the sound of my heart breaking?

Me as Pam Poovey Halloween 2013

Me as Pam Poovey — Halloween, 2013

I have a deep and enduring love for one Pam Poovey, a fictional cartoon character on an FX show called Archer. Let me give you a little background knowledge so that you might fully appreciate her vast buckets of awesomeness.

Pam is the HR director of a spy agency called ISIS. She is plus-sized, drinks hard, and doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit. She laments from time to time, saying “I am an attractive, full bodied woman, but nobody will have sex with me! And I have so much love to give!” Despite that, she’s had just about everyone in the entire office, both men and women. She paid her way through college bare-knuckle boxing. She has a tattoo on her back of a Lord Byron quote reading:

“For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed: And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!”

There are also thirteen tally marks, presumably indicating the number of dudes she beat to death in her boxing fights.

Do not mess with Pam.

She’s a bit of a perv.

She took the entire agent exam nekkid so no one could say she cheated.

She’s tough. Compelling. Hot as hell.

Sploosh.

Most recently in the show, ISIS has been disbanded and they now operate as a vice ring. Pam developed a bit of a cocaine problem, and then one episode was revealed to be… well, see for yourself:

Skinny. She’s skinny. Holy shitsnacks, can’t I have just ONE awesome fat female role model on television? I know she’s a cartoon, but she was MY cartoon. MY sturdy bisexual binge-drinking nympho.

From a story perspective, she has become thin as a result of cocaine, which might be the show taking some sort of stance on artificial thinness. Perhaps the writers want to emphasize the dangers of cocaine abuse. That’s what my heart hopes, anyhow. I am going to ignore these recent events and simply reflect fondly on the dolphin-puppet abusing, food-loving, rowdy, proud, strong, sexy lady who splooshes my heart with awesomeness.

You can take her chub, but you can never take her innate radness.

Fat Girl’s Forever Alone Valentine’s Day Round-Up

Liz Lemon is my power animal.

“Valentine’s Day is a sham created by card companies to reinforce and exploit gender stereotypes.” – Liz Lemon

A pretty, skinny woman and her handsome date go to dinner at a clichéd restaurant. She picks at a salad and drinks expensive wine. They laugh. She opens a gift of jewelry and gasps.

GAG ME WITH A SPOON

It is a frequent assumption that the overweight don’t have loving relationship partners or are unable to find someone willing to spend Valentine’s Day with them. Not only are we fatties supposedly forever alone on V-Day, but we are reminded by the advertising blitz that starts on January 1st and runs right up until February 15th where we get to hear about the amazing gestures of love made by everyone’s respective significant others. I have no desire to compete with other women on who had a more romantic evening, or who received the most extravagant gift. Every year, my husband and I eschew traditions and do pretty much the exact opposite of what the Hallmark Industrial Complex has decided is appropriate. Instead, we order chicken wings and watch horror movies. It’s The Best Thing, and in its honor, I present the Fat Girl’s Forever Alone Valentine’s Day Round-Up.

Before getting down to the eating and watching, theme-appropriate attire is required. Here is a range, from comfy to flashy:

Nothing says “celebrating love while watching murder and eating carcasses” like this tank top from Torrid.

If you are feeling sassier and of the dress persuasion, try something more in the vein of this rockabilly horror movie dress from Etsy seller VintageGaleria.

Cafe Press has this great blood spatter tee, which is thematically appropriate and also hides buffalo drippings.

Etsy seller FrostedCrossbones sells this gorgeous alternative to traditional gold and diamonds.

Lastly, I know that one of the primary priorities for a meat-centric, violence-desensitizing anti-holiday is comfort. For that reason, I present the pièce de résistance:

Yes. These are zombie footie-pajamas. You’re welcome.

Know Your Fat Meme — Anti-Joke Chicken

Today’s macro is a version of the Anti-Joke Chicken,  a meme that starts with a joke setup and then subverts the joke with a non-punchline.

Some sample Anti-Joke Chicken macros include:

Knock knock / Come in.
Your Mama is so old / She’s probably going to die soon.
Why doesn’t God like fruitcake? / Because He doesn’t exist.

Most fat jokes rely heavily on the idea that a fat person is somehow lesser or substandard in comparison to people who aren’t fat. This Anti-Joke Chicken macro does something different, but I still don’t like it:

HAR HAR HAR

Obsessive exercising, or activity disorder, is a serious condition tied to anorexia and bulimia, where suffers have cognitive distortions about their body.

The Association for Body Image Disordered Eating (ABIDE) out of U.S. Davis has a clear description of such disordered thinking:

  • Dichotomous, Black and White Thinking: “If I don’t run, I can’t eat.”
  • Overgeneralization: “Like my mom, people who don’t exercise are fat.”
  • Magnification: “If I don’t work out today, I’ll gain weight.”
  • Selective Abstraction: “If I can go to the gym, I am happy.”
  • Superstitious Thinking: “I must run every morning or something bad will happen.”
  • Personalization: “People are looking at me because I’m out of shape.”
  • Arbitrary Inference: “People who exercise get better jobs, relationships, and so on.”
  • Discounting: “My doctor tells me not to run, but she is flabby so I don’t listen to her.”

The Anti-Joke Chicken is supposed to be humorous via shock, but I don’t think it counts as subversion when the original joke is demeaning, and the subversion is not only demeaning, but also grim. It minimizes both the problems with weight-centric jokes and the realities of living in a society that supports self-loathing as motivation.

I made my own AJC. I hope you like it.

Comedy gold.