Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is Fat Funny?

I went to the gay capital of Ft. Lauderdale last night for their Halloween extravaganza. It was great fun sitting on a bench watching the people strolling by decked out in all sorts of wild and crazy costumes. Amazing looking women, slinky and sexy, dressed in their highest of heels and full makeup turned out to be men. Sailors, policemen, Mad Hatters, a penis, masters and their slaves and lots of people dressed in fat costumes. Men and women alike in padded suits, overabudant fake breasts, rolls of simulated fat, fake double chins - all in the name of Halloween and a good time. But is it in good taste?

Is it OK for us to single out a group and make fun of them? Is it alright to pretend to be someone else, such as a homeless person, a fat person, an old person, all in the name of fun? Here's an excerpt from Kataphatic. In her blog Katie says:
"My body is sold as a costume. People can dress up like me, pretending. Playing. Trying out what it’s like to be fat; getting a laugh out of it. How crazy and disgusting their body would be if they really looked like me. And then at the end of the evening they can take it off. Shed that extra weight of the costume with a sigh, and a “thank God I’m not really that fat.” Or, maybe not even think about it, the way I think about how my life would be different if I weren’t fat, every day. My body is treated as a costume by thin people.
My body isn’t the only body that’s objectified as a costume for privileged people. The bodies and cultures of many people of color are used as costumes by white people. The bodies of "illegal" immigrants are used as costumes by American (particularly white) citizens. The bodies of the mentally ill are used as costumes by the neurotypical. The bodies of the old are used as costumes by the young. The bodies of the poor and homeless are used as costumes by the wealthy.
The privileged use the bodies of the oppressed as costumes, but they don’t stop there. The costumes are not usually realistic at all. They don’t communicate any sense that the wearer (the appropriator, the rapist, the conqueror, the colonizer) has any sense of the humanity of the person whose body they are exploiting. These costumes are caricatures of us, designed to be shocking, ugly, “exotic” to highlight the “other-ness” and even the “not-human-ness” of our bodies. Not only are we othered by the fact that our bodies are used as a costume, we are dehumanized by them."
When you see that thin person decked out in some semblance of a fat person's body, how do you feel? Do you find it amusing? Or is it just pathetic that they think it is OK to make fun of overweight people?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No Thanks, Spanx!

As a teenaged girl, my mother encouraged me to squeeze into a panty girdle, which was somewhat de rigueur back in the 60's. This tight contraption. which went from the waist to the bottom of the thighs, was worn under everything - dresses, skirts and pants. It smoothed the figure and eliminated bulges. It also acted as a kind of chastity belt because it was almost impossible to be naughty while wearing one, which might be why so many mothers bought them for their daughters. From the 1920's through the 70's girdles were a part of every woman's wardrobe.