Thursday, February 10, 2011


So....I was confused after I watched Glee the other night. Leslie Kinzel wrote a post close to what I might have written. Convenient because she embedded some video and does a break down of the show. I don't have as many issues with the show in general and I like Puck. The possibly redeemable bad boy is always charming to me. Where Leslie and I had the exact same reaction was when the fat girl finds Fat Bottom Girl offensive.
Wait. What? Indeed.
I've been thinking about it ever since. I've always loved the song. The suggestion that a fat nanny molested her charge is problematic but ... it's Queen. The hyper sexualization of fat bottomed girls is problematic. I guess. But I don't really have big issues with all of that. And when Puck was singing it I was thrilled. It was also a moment when we saw the fat girl soften.
I haven't loved the Ashely Fink character. She is always eating candy and she's just unpleasant. But she is also strong and self assured. Never more so than in this episode. and the softening, sweetness we see as the song is being sung to her adds dimension. She was extremely cool in every way but the song made her feel "like crap".
Wait. What?
My first size acceptance moments were somewhat passive. I wasn't loving being fat. I was just deciding to not hate it. I've never really celebrated being fat. I can't really get there. I don't celebrate things that aren't particularly interesting to me. Appearance is not interesting to me. I enjoy the feeling when I look in the mirror and think I look good. I enjoy seeing my friends and family when they look good, which they pretty much always do. I enjoy loving a physical feature when I'm feeling attractive. But these experiences are fleeting. I celebrate when something feels like change and joy and realization.
In the early days I didn't want to talk about being fat. I wanted it to not matter. As time has gone on I've realized how much a part of my identity being fat is. It's an important part of why I am who I am. And I am more aggressively fat in the sense that I do not suffer any foolishness about it. It's a political identity. I want nothing less than full inclusion.
I wish the show would have been more clear about why the character didn't like the song. There is an assumption that the audience would know why. It's confusing. It doesn't fit the character.
Puck also wooed Mercedes. And she was similarly dismissive of advances. I like that. I like that these young women have a sense of their own value. And I still love Mercedes rejecting the idea that she needed to lose weight and singing I Am Beautiful so powerfully. Glee does come through with a strong positive message about diversity. Generally speaking.
I have a similar experience when I talk about the fat revolution with people. The idea that being fat is an illness and must be confronted and changed is so deeply rooted. It's really hard for people make a full change of perception. Many of my best friends (including some in the fat revolution camp) hold onto the idea that fat equals wrong. I think that's why time and time again we see people from the revolution hedging on television when asked if they wouldn't rather be thin.
Recently I noticed that I seem to give people the impression that I believe I can't lose weight. I don't believe that. I do believe that I can't be thin. I've had the experience too many times. I lose weight but I never get to thin. And I don't care. This is my body.
Oddly enough I heard Oprah articulating how I feel in an interview with Barbara Walters. She said that she knows how much she needs to exercise and eat to lose weight and she isn't interested in living like that. She exercises. She eats in a healthy manner. She still wishes she was thin. But what has been so obvious with Oprah is that her body returns to fat if she doesn't work out like an athlete and eat with hyper vigilance. She seems to have given up on that.
So I think the thing that wasn't being said Glee was something like this fat girl is attractive and strong and does not need your approval but ... she'd rather be thin.
Something like that.


april said...

The thing I took away from this plotline of Glee was a bit different: I felt like it tried to suddenly define angry Lauren as softer and more sentimental. It fell short because the character transition was unsubstantiated. She was a bully through most of the prior episodes, and what I think we were supposed to get from this one is that "oh ho, she's a bully who also wants love and meaningful relationships". She even starts this episode as a bully who's also sexually forward & crass.

The Puck character is a skanky dude, right? So I think the twist was supposed to be that these two kinda skanky people want a romantic idea of love. The idea being that Puck starts out thinking "heh, she's hot" and singing the Queen song... but she's offended because actually she wants to be loved, not sexed. While it's terribly written, abrupt & just generally a mess, I think the plot's about misunderstanding more than it is about fat acceptance.

Tish said...

Well that's interesting. And I can see that.
I think I want to see fat positive messages and may be confused when they seem so close but not quite there.

Gaylle said...

If you are healthy, you are healthy. That's it. No need to cater to society's current norms. Remember Rubin. :)