So this one time in college some friends and I were taking our measurements. Back then I had a 23-inch waist. My friend measured hers, and it was 24.5 inches.
"Oh, but you’re slimmer all over," I instantly reassured her. "And you weigh less than I do."
She looked at me like she was confused. Like what I was saying didn’t make any sense to her in context. And that’s when I realised that not everybody felt instantly crappy if she wasn’t the skinniest girl in the room.
A few years later, another friend matter-of-factly said “I’m fat.” I blinked. I opened my mouth automatically to pop out with, “You’re not fat,” but then I realised two things: (a) she was fat, and (b) she wasn’t unhappy about it.
That’s when I realised that fat isn’t really an insult, even though it’s hurled around like one. In my twisted little thin-focused psyche, it had never occurred to me that fat could simply be a descriptor — accurate or inaccurate, but morally neutral.
The sum of these moments was a foreign concept — not that other people might be happy with their bodies, but that other people might simply not care very much. It had never quite occurred to me that you could be female and not be constantly aware of your size. That you might not walk around all day constantly evaluating how your body occupied and moved through space. That if you gained or lost five pounds, other people probably wouldn’t even notice.
I haven’t even had an eating disorder, and this is how I was raised to think. This is how my mother thinks, how most of the women in my life have though and acted. It took 18 years of living before I encountered someone who didn’t think that way. Is that scary to anyone else but me?
(for those who aren’t aware of the controversy, Debacle Timeline has a great summary.)
Let me preface this by saying I wasn’t offended by the initial comic. Yes, it was tasteless — but Penny Arcade is often tasteless, it’s part of the package. I used to read Penny Arcade back in the day; it was funny, but it just drifted off my blogroll. No big deal.
Melissa McEwan at Shakesville posted about it. I don’t always agree with Melissa McEwan, but just as PA has a right to post tasteless/offensive comics, Shakesville has a right to critique them.
Then the internet EXPLODED.
Lemme get this straight: Dracula spends centuries of effort and 900+ pages drawing historians into a deep conspiracy to… catalogue his library???
He’s undead and immortal! In the time he spent putting people across the globe through strange, life-threatening tests to discern which of them ‘really’ wanted to find him, Dracula could have written the damn catalogue himself!
Romanticizing traditional masculinity is like romanticizing the Confederacy or the Nazi regime. Great uniforms, accessories, and anecdotes. But your politics fucking blow.