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September 13, 2009

Some lazy linking and a few things I’ve been thinking about recently:

1. Via Shapely Prose. Newsweek recently posted a gallery of photos showing fat people doing HEALTHY ACTIVITIES. This gallery was inspired by a ton of negative comments from fat-hating idiots when Newsweek writer Kate Dailey wrote a piece entitled “Fat and Healthy: Why It’s Possible”. According to the intro to the gallery, “a lot of angry readers demanded to see one fat person who could climb a mountain, or run a marathon, or show any signs of athleticism”. So she did exactly that. The pictures are awesome, and inspiring, and a great place to direct anyone who tries to play the “but fat people can’t/won’t/don’t exercise” card. And, there will be new photos added on some kind of time interval, so keep checking the gallery! Mostly I’m just pleasantly surprised to see such fat-positive press coverage from a mainstream news outlet.

2. GLEE. Has anyone else watched the new series “Glee”? I just watched the first two episodes on Hulu, and overall I guess I enjoyed it, except for one thing. Their portrayal of a disabled student. So, the show is about a high school vocal group (a glee club, hence the name), and in the group, there is one student who is in a wheel chair. In some ways it’s really nice to even see anyone non-able-bodied in a major role, but the way the other characters talk about him and treat him is incredibly condescending, ableist, and just generally obnoxious. In the first two episodes, he is referred to twice as “a cripple,” a term which most even moderately socially aware people gave up using quite a while ago. The characters who use the word “cripple” are both characters who we are supposed to dislike, and they are being rude when they say it, but the fact remains that the use of the word “cripple” in the script is supposed to elicit laughter from the audience (I think). Beyond that, he is frequently pushed around in his wheel chair by other people. He has a manual chair, can use his arms, and even wears biking gloves, so he “should” be perfectly capable of pushing his own chair. But instead, the fully able-bodied characters push him around without having even asked him if he would like their assistance. That’s pretty darn condescending and patronizing if you ask me, and also just perpetuates the idea that people in wheelchairs are incapable of doing anything or having any agency and that they are in constant need of someone to help them. Grrrr….. I hate seeing over and over again the stereotypes of the “kind able-bodied person” helping out the “poor, poor disabled person”. People in wheelchairs can do lots of things for themselves, especially, you know, pushing their damned wheelchair. Pushing someone in a wheelchair if they haven’t asked for help is sort of like grabbing an able-bodied person by the shoulders and steering them around – AKA, an unwelcome act of patronizing intimacy. We haven’t talked a whole lot about ableism on HappyBodies, and maybe it’s time for us to start.

3. Via Sociological Images, a very interesting video series about marketing to children. Definitely worth watching (except for the fat shaming/thin=good bit at the beginning of part 7). The are a lot of connections to be made between how marketers target children, and how those children end up feeling about their bodies, their clothes, and what food they eat.

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