In the dominating and oppressive-in-so-many-ways society I live within, there is alot of hatred of fat people and fat bodies. There has been some (tokenistic at times) headway made in many spheres. Homosexuals are no longer illegal. White women got many of the rights they focussed (white) Feminist agendas upon. There are racial discrimination laws etc etc. To the happy sappy liberal, it’s all looking pretty good in “our” multicultural diverse society, where “we” have the Best Race Relations In The World.. Yawn...
Sometimes, it is easy to think that (mis) re-presentation of women people, coloured people, queer people, trans people and working/underclass people, activists, rebels and revolutionary people (think Che Guevera lip balm) on products, movies, advertisements and magazines, means equality and acceptance.
It doesn’t. At least not in entirety.
It most likely means, that all of those once hated and despised groupings of peoples, are now marketable in a guilt-paying off kinda way, or a man-that-is-so-edgey-and-raw easy to consume way.
However, let’s play some devil’s advocate. Let’s also acknowledge that representation, no matter how stereotyped, narrow, tokenistic and defined by a dominant grouping, does play a small part in pushing mainstream boundaries by being visible and creating some kind of unequal awareness.
The representations of “successful” (acceptable, digestible)women, coloured, queer, transgender, working class and activist/rebel/revolutionary peoples, even within internal publications (feminist mags, gay/queer print), are still largely of slim, toned, “normal” bodies. They are rarely fat. Why not?
I feel that it’s because there has been a mainstreaming, a capitalising, a consuming, of those once and still marginal groups. Colors of Bennetton, GAP, a handful of non-white supermodels. There are liberal feminists who think getting top jobs in an oppressive society is equal rights and equality for women; mainstream queers who “are just like everyone else”, and they are. Coloured peoples real happy to have equal access to a violent capitalist economy and business model. Even transgender bodies are considered hot and desirable if they fit the confines and criteria of standardised beauty.
In this mainstreaming, various marginal groups, have been accepted into (to certain degrees) and allowed to consume “equally”.
Step up! Step up! Equal rights to consuming in a violent oppressive society, right now! Equal opportunities to consume folks! Come get them right now!
So we consume.
And underlying this rampant consumption is an underlying feeling that something is not quite right. An innate squashed down knowing that our consumption in the rich-multicultural-liberal-women-rights-and-gay-rights-loving-democratic-free society we are so lucky to have built from colonisation, land theft and the oppression of indigenous peoples, is guilt. We know we partake and live with over-consumption. And fat peoples’ bodies, the constructed connotation of greediness that fat induces, are a visible reminder of societal greed and over-consumption. So as always, when there’s something that makes us uneasy and uncomfortable, we don’t examine what it might stem from. No, no. We vilify and ostracise those peoples, those bodies, those histories. It’s a pretty classic dynamic, set-up a scapegoat so we don’t have to deal with our issues.
Guilt about our rampant addictive over-consumption, is exorcised and channelled into fat peoples’ bodies, who are then set-up for our hatred and disgust.