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Fuck That Noise —

July 8, 2013

If there’s one thing that unites all people, it’s humor.

If there’s one thing that unites all assholes, it’s body-shaming humor; particularly if the “joke” in question is unoriginal, hackneyed pablum.

Sadly, there’s a lot uniting the assholes these days.

For instance, there’s this unlovable chestnut.

Dress For the Body

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I am laughing because this is so true. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

You see, the body I really want is impervious to inclement weather, from the scorching heat to the freezing cold. This is why I’m constantly wearing sandals in the winter and mukluks in the summer. Silly me!

Oh, wait, someone threw a little variety into the body-shaming mix to clarify:

Dress For the Body 2

Oooooooooooooh, I see… they’re not talking about the body I want, they’re talking about they body they want me to have. This “joke” is about fat people who would dare to bare their flesh in the sweltering heat. After all, physical comfort is only acceptable if you aren’t infringing upon the visual comfort of those too frail and feeble to withstand the sight of fat people wearing anything less than a burka on the beach.

As a result, some clever twits on the Twitter have taken this joke and run with it as though they conceived of it via their own sputtering synapses. For example, the iPhone photo service ByPost thought their followers would find it HIGH-LARIOUS if they passed it along as well. Instead, they’ve faced a chorus of FUCK YOUs that forced them to delete the tweet and issue a bunch of patronizing, flippant “apologies.”

Bringing the criticism into sharp relief is the fact that so many of these recycled jokes are directed specifically at women, as I document in this Storify.

Because here’s the thing: few people care if a fat man wears something “inappropriate” at the beach. Want proof? Just compare the Twitter search for “guys dress for the body you have” with “ladies dress for the body you have.” Suddenly the context makes more sense: unlike men, the clothing choices of fat women are of vital public importance.

But it’s not just how women dress, it’s how they succeed, as well.

This weekend, Andy Murray and Marion Bartoli both won Wimbledon, but only Bartoli faced a backlash for not being “pretty enough.”

First came the torrent of tweets disparaging her looks, followed by a BBC radio commentator, John Inverdale, saying, “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little: ‘You’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?”

Bartoli’s public response was beyond classy. “It doesn’t matter, honestly,” she said. “I am not blond, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes. And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it.”

As a result, Inverdale apologized and attempted to spin his comments as praise for Bartoli overcoming great odds, according to The Guardian:

He said he had been trying to make the point “in a ham-fisted way” that “in a world where [players] are all 6ft tall”, Bartoli’s achievement was particularly impressive – the French player is 5ft 7in.

Yes, clearly by commenting on Bartoli’s status as a “looker” he was referring to her height disadvantage.

But Inverdale isn’t the first to comment on Bartoli’s looks or her weight. She’s been called “the fattest player ever to win Wimbledon” and her weight has been criticized as far back as 2007, the year she lost the Wimbledon final to Venus Williams, whose family is routinely denigrated for being “fat.”

Hell, you can even find “fat” photos of Bartoli, like this one from her previous Wimbledon attempts.

Bartoli from 2006 Wimbledon


How “fat” is Bartoli? According to the Women’s Tennis Association, Bartoli is 5’7″ and 139 pounds, giving her a BMI of almost 21.8, putting her squarely in the middle of the “normal” weight category.

Obviously Bartoli isn’t fat by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t stop small-minded cretins from expressing their outrage that this fat woman somehow forced her way into Wimbledon and stole championship from the more deserving [read: thinner and blonder] Sabine Lisicki. Ironically, the WTA says Lisicky is 5’10” and 154 pounds, giving her a BMI of 22.1, making her “fatter” than Bartoli.

As an attempted rebuke to Inverdale and the rest of the critics, The Daily Mail posted a “Look At Me Now” article showing Bartoli in a figure-hugging dress.

Bartoli Dress

Bartoli “proving” she deserved Wimbledon.

But is this really how we want to respond to the haters and trolls, the body shamers and the fat panickers? Do we really want to send the message that female athletes can only justify their accomplishments after they’ve demonstrated that they can fit into traditional beauty standards?

Personally, I’m sick and tired of people believing they get to dictate the value and behavior of others based on whether they’re fuckable or not. And after combing through hundreds of hive-minded bullshit about bathing suits and Bartoli, I’ve come to see the judgments as being predictable as the tides.

We know that every summer there will be an outpouring of grief over fat women sunbathing at the beach. We know that if a fat actress is nominated for an Academy Award, she will face a barrage of criticism about “enabling obesity.” We know that if a fat woman runs a 5k, her efforts will be scoffed at and dismissed.

We know that the criticism will come whether you’re 5 pounds or 500 pounds over the “ideal.” There’s no escaping the snark, whether you’re trying to survive the summer heat wave or dominating Wimbledon: a woman’s body is a public project and anonymous assholes will tell you when you’re doing it wrong.

But keep in mind that this is all white noise. Like a TV turned to a blank channel, you will always find the crackle and hiss of meaningless opinions. And the funny thing is that when you listen to the white noise and obstruct your vision long enough, you will literally hallucinate thanks to the Ganzfeld effect.

The same is true of all the body shaming white noise: if you listen to the white noise long enough, you will begin to hallucinate that the words of random, ignorant, hateful strangers is actually relevant to you and your life; if you listen to the white noise long enough, you will begin to believe that you shouldn’t wear a two-piece swimsuit to the beach because it would utterly offend the masses; if you listen to the white noise long enough, you will begin to question the natural skills of a Wimbledon champion; and if you listen to the white noise long enough, you will begin to believe that if you just lose enough weight then you’ll finally be happy, acceptable and healthy enough to enjoy life.

Fuck. That. Noise.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but everyone is also entitled to reject the opinions of the ignorant and petty. Others don’t determine whether you’re dressing correctly for the body you have: YOU DO. Others don’t determine whether your accomplishments deserve merit: YOU DO. Others don’t determine whether you’re happy in your own skin: YOU DO.

The great thing about white noise is that when it’s inescapable, when you’re forced to endure the crackle and hiss, then your brain is capable of pushing that sound into the background, thereby rendering the sound obsolete. But you have to keep your eyes open. If you choose to keep your eyes open and to see the white noise for what it is, you will slowly but surely put the opinions of others in their proper place: the dung heap.

Of all the opinions on your body, yours is the only one that truly matters. If you spend too much time listening to the white noise, you will begin to see your body as inadequate, unattractive and unworthy. But you have the power to push the white noise out of your life and replace it with the warm light of truth: that all bodies are valuable and beautiful and worthy.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Theresa permalink
    July 8, 2013 12:25 pm

    OMFG. On what planet is Marion Bartoli not totally fucking adorable? I know that’s not the point but PUH-LEEZE. I am so over the body policing/snark/etc. What the FUCK do these assholes expect?

  2. Yolanda permalink
    July 8, 2013 12:27 pm

    What an excellent post. You made my day. Bypost can kiss my ass.

  3. nof permalink
    July 8, 2013 12:33 pm

    So I’d never heard this particular comment before, and just–wtf? I don’t need or want any “helpful reminders” about how to dress my goddamn body, and criticism tends to just make me angry and to wear more exposed clothing as a FUCK YOU.

    ‘scuse me while I go to a tailor and hike up all my dresses. The body I have is hot and wants more breeze in its nethers.

    PS: Inbee Park, if you haven’t heard of her, would be another athlete to add to your collection of media-criticized not-thin-enough athletes.

    • nof permalink
      July 8, 2013 12:47 pm

      Also, looked at the storify, and of the two photos: one appears to be a pregnant but otherwise slim lady. Good job, people. Let’s shame her because her belly is so big. Never mind that it’s so big because there’s a miniature person inside it.

    • July 9, 2013 3:12 pm

      “The body I have is hot and wants more breeze in its nethers.”

      This was the laugh I so needed today! Thanks for that!

  4. July 8, 2013 12:48 pm

    Yeah, um, I’m in Houston. Last weekend it was 107, with a heat index of 137. I’m wearing spaghetti straps and shorts and if you try to stop me, you will see my fluency in profanity in four languages.

  5. July 8, 2013 1:36 pm

    To all the fat shamers out there, Please remember to speak using the brain you should have and not the one you are currently using!

  6. vesta44 permalink
    July 8, 2013 1:47 pm

    That crap about dressing for the body you have, not the body you want? I always dress for the body I have. If people don’t like how I dress that body, they don’t have to look. While this may not be the body I want (I’d really love to have a body that doesn’t hurt all the time), it’s the only body I have and it’s not going to change any time soon to meet society’s expectations so society can kiss my fat ass (and bring a lunch, society, it’s an all-day job).

  7. Elizabeth permalink
    July 8, 2013 4:48 pm

    First of all, vesta, you’re hilarious! I will bring a BIG lunch if I ever plan on kissing your ass. Second, it’s unbelievable how people post the exact same comment as everyone else. I love the term secondhand thinking, and that’s what they’re doing. They don’t think or speak for themselves, they just repeat something they heard. I’m with vesta, the only body I want is my body when I could hike and swim and canoe and swing an eight-pound splitting maul.

    • July 9, 2013 7:17 am

      Seems to me that secondhand thinking is lazy thinking. They can’t be bothered to engage their brain cells to come up with something original; they’re content to parrot something they heard somewhere else rather than actually think for themselves. It’s very telling, isn’t it?

  8. July 8, 2013 8:53 pm

    I agree with your rant, but I do wish that people would dress for the body they have rather than for whatever the media tells them is stylish for the season. I used to work at a plus-sized clothing store and I never understood the women who came in and asked for styles that were ugly and uncomfortable just because they saw it in some magazine. Or worse, women who would refuse to even try on something that was comfortable, flattering, and of good quality just because they read somewhere once that fat women shouldn’t where such-and-such. Wear what *you* want . . . but if you are going to let it all hang out, please remember to wear sunblock.

  9. July 8, 2013 10:48 pm

    TW: Fat-hate, Fat-phobia, and Suicide

    This is a great post! I’m so blessed to have such a positive space to get away from all the hate that is thrown and me and my fat body every day all day. It’s blogs like this that help me retain my sanity. THANK YOU!!! You probably don’t realize it, but you are saving lives. If it weren’t for the size acceptance movement I don’t think I would be here anymore. I used to be so depressed and hated my life and my body. Being a “Death! Fat” means that every time I step out in public I am bombarded with hatred. People can only take so many years of this fat-hating, fat-phobic, bigoted shit our culture heaps on our shoulders before it sounds like being dead isn’t such a bad idea.

    Years ago, when things where at their worst, I seriously considered suicide; but then I discovered Fat Acceptance and it was like someone reached down and saved me – pulled me from the water and saved me from drowning. As I read and researched more, I realized how fucked up our society really is. I learned that I am not the problem, our culture is, and that there are SO MANY amazing people JUST LIKE ME who are doing incredible things. And I can’t begin to describe how that has changed every single part of my life from my career, to my love life, to my free time, and every moment in between. I don’t feel alone anymore. Other fabulous fatties who have chosen to be highly visible have shown me that it’s ok to EXIST! I have a RIGHT to EXIST! That was an amazing realization, when everything about our culture tells us fat people the exact opposite.

    I look back at all the people I’ve helped over the years since discovering Fat Acceptance, all the art I’ve created, all the money I’ve donated to the homeless, animal shelters, and foster kids, all the lives I’ve touched just by being me and being THERE for people who needed me – I look back on what I’ve done over the past 5 or 6 years since Fat Acceptance has become a part of my life and I realize that if it weren’t for FA, none of that would have ever happened. Thanks to people like you, atchka, and other fat acceptance bloggers, lives have been changed FOREVER -for the better.

    There needs to be words stronger than “thank you”, because Thank You isn’t enough. But it’s all I have. Thank you!

    • Duckie permalink
      July 9, 2013 3:08 am

      Stacy, Thank you! I’m glad you survived to share your perspective!

  10. Dizzyd permalink
    July 9, 2013 7:56 pm

    Stacy – you’re beautiful, girl! Never forget that.
    Now onto the article – I read those tweets, and seriously, trying not to laugh. I mean all those ppl saying the EXACT SAME THING! And they think they’re being clever. These are the ppl who torment us and try to make us feel discouraged and afraid? These guys are sad, really. And the comments re: Bartolli? Of course they’d say that – she’s not a Stepford sex toy who seeks her approval from men. I could make a dig and say no wonder men are going extinct. But the funny thing is my pastor emailed a couple of lessons re: walking in love (esp. towards your enemies), and de-weeding your crops (or getting neg. thinking out of your mind to allow your faith to grow). I admit the first one I have a hard time with and I’m hoping to learn from the Master, so to speak. But I can pass on this – my hubby says these guys are in a sense even more victims than we are. Think of it – they’re totally controlled by this way of thinking. They can’t just enjoy their lives and eat what they like w/o fearing what others will think. Even WITH all our problems, we know in reality we are FREE to truly enjoy and LIVE our lives (thank you God!); they’re not. And THAT’S what we’re up against. Keep it in mind the next time the trolls are out in force. (I know I’ll keep reminding myself!)

  11. July 10, 2013 8:40 am

    Just a quick note of thanks to all who contribute to this effort. Your acuity, commitment, and persistence are much appreciated. The “noise” can be impenetrable. The Ego is loud. The Spirit is quiet.

  12. July 13, 2013 6:01 am

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    If Bartoli won Wimbledon based on skill, it shouldn’t matter if she has fried eggs for eyes and tentacles growing out her nose. Wimbledon is supposed to be a competition of skill in tennis, not a beauty pageant. Anyone who thinks otherwise can stick a tennis racket where the sun don’t shine.
    We need more of those resounding asshole-shaming moments. This is a good thing!

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