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Social Justice, Mythic Foundations and Miss Piggy

August 19, 2014

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Fat HealthFat ScienceExerciseMy Boring-Ass Life

This is going to sound odd, but I think I owe really big thank you to Muppets Covergirl, Miss Piggy. Let me explain myself.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about fat activists and other social justice-y types and wondering stuff. For instance, what makes someone the kind of person who can look at the status quo and see that even though it’s accepted as normal, it isn’t fair? Are activists just more sensitive – so called bleeding hearts? Or is there something about our experience and influence that affords us the compassion to identify injustice and the strength to stand up and fight for our rights and the rights of others.

To be clear, this isn’t a scientific or academic inquiry I’ve been conducting; it’s one of those late night contemplations and, while I’m wondering this on the grand scale, it’s also personal. I am on a journey through my past, hedging about trying to figure out why I am compelled to act, to speak out against weight bias and other injustice. I’m on quest to reclaim my history, my story from the people that hate fatness, to unearth the mythic sources that give me courage and insight, so that I can share them with others.

As many of you know, I have an academic background, and in a very academic way, I believe that human beings often rely on a mythic foundation – the ideas we perceive as universal truths. And that we gather these mythic understandings from symbols we repeatedly encounter in our lifetimes. These symbols can be overt, meaning they declare themselves as life-defining, for example, the messages, images and ideas we associate with religions. Or they can be covert, clearly influencing you, but not really claiming an ideological stance, like the characters, the stories and representations we connect with in the media. I believe that these mythic symbols lay the foundations of our consciousness and help us organize, define, frame and understand our world as we know it.

miss-piggy-the-muppets-121914_330_400And so, I’ve been wondering was there something in my past – some symbol that allowed me to love my fat body, allowed me to see, and know that there was beauty, power, joy and fulfillment in my physical being despite what the world all around me was saying about being fat.

And then there she was… an image of Miss Piggy rolling through my social media feed.

As a child, I was obsessed with Miss Piggy. I had a Miss Piggy puppet that I carried with me everywhere. I slept with her. I ate with her. I watched her on TV. I listened to her ideas and I loved her. I don’t know if you remember but some of the things Miss Piggy says are badass.

Here are some awesome quotes:

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be neccesarry from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

“Style comes in all shapes and sizes, therefore the bigger you are, the more style you have.”

“Never eat more than you can lift.”

“A bowl of fruit is sometimes served in place of dessert. This practice should be discouraged.”

“Too much exercise can damage your health.”

“I, moiself, have always enjoyed a good scrimmage.”

“Beauty is all about loving who you are and if you have problems with that may I suggest you try loving who I am?”

~ Miss Piggy

Miss Piggy is part of my foundation. She’s a powerful, strong, successful, joyful, beloved fat woman, and I think somewhere, deep in the recesses of my subconscious, the symbol of Miss Piggy crept in and helped keep me from ever really buying into the mainstream machine that spews cruel and unjust ideas about fat people.

So, really, thank you Miss Piggy.

Want more Miss Piggy? Check out this Buzzfeed article.

Can you think of positive symbols that might have contributed to your mythic foundations – symbols that could contribute to a future reality where weight bias no longer exists?

Feminist Cupcake

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Duckie permalink
    August 19, 2014 11:23 am

    This. Totally.

  2. Isabel permalink
    August 19, 2014 12:18 pm

    Nell Carter! Loved her in sitcoms growing up in the 80s. And what a voice.

  3. Twistie permalink
    August 19, 2014 12:46 pm

    Miss Piggy was also a big part of my world, growing up. In addition to her, I had my mother. She was a fat woman who lived large. She enjoyed her food without apology, walked everywhere, was wildly active politically, and seemed to be s part of every committee and charity active within a fifty mile radius. She could appreciate grand opera and French cuisine or raucous folk music served up with ribs and a beer equally. She relished a good argument, and she gave the best hugs going. She was equally passionate about arts and science, and got most excited about things that combined the two. She taught me the importance of fighting for social justice about the same time she was teaching me the alphabet.

    Between these two amazing examples, is it any wonder I grew up to crusade for fat rights? I don’t think so.

    • Stacy permalink
      August 19, 2014 9:33 pm

      Your mother sounds like an amazing woman. I’ve read quite a few of your posts on different fat activism spaces and I, for one, am thankful that your mom did such a wonderful job instilling in you the wonderful values and ideas I’ve seen in your writings. I’m happy that she was able to give you such a great foundation!

      I owe a lot to my mom too. She was one of the only people in my life who taught me to never judge others and that no type of person is any better or worse than another type. Nothing, (including wealth, health, skin color, religion, culture, sex, body size or anything else that makes us different from each other) makes one type of person better or more valuable than another type of person. Despite growing up in the south with racist and classist parents, she managed to be someone who embraces equality. I’m so thankful that she was able to over come that upbringing and pass on those beliefs in equality to me.

      Yay for awesome mothers!

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