Posts Tagged ‘the australian media strikes again’

Not unless I’m swapping lifestyles with Oprah

We get a bit of mail at Axis of Fat through our contact form and a lot of the messages we get are wonderful, supportive and thankful and make us feel really good about our writing and motivate us to continue to blog about being fat Aussies. On the odd occasion there are media requests too, and Nick fields those because I’m not really interested in making a fool of myself in print or on air and he does such a fantastic job speaking as a fat advocate. I’m really proud of our blogging efforts, and even though I haven’t been blogging as much due to being busy with my other endeavours, I’m really chuffed to see the blog chugging along and continuing the conversation about being fat in Australia.

Today Nick got a media request from a current affairs program requesting one of us appear in a story that involved swapping “lifestyles” with a “gymbunny” for a period of time. The opportunity (and I use that word ever so loosely) was turned down straight away by those of us on the Axis team who have access to our emails during the day, with much booing. We found out that the journalist has approached a number of fat acceptance bloggers today regarding the same story only to be met with similar responses. No thank you. We’d prefer not to consent to being demonised on national television. But thanks. Besides, I would feel awfully dishonest pegging myself at the fat/ bad end of the good-fat lifestyle paradigm because while I am fat and I just ate lemon pudding, I also go to the gym and eat vegetables!

This kind of “lifestyle swap” story is tired and hackneyed, and I really question the value of stories like this – other than acting as stocking stuffers on slow news days. I follow Source Bottle on twitter and at least a few times a week there are call outs for fatties to participate in “lifestyle swaps”. I’m starting to think that there are very few fat journalists and producers in Australian media, because you’d have to be completely unobservant or even mired in your own thin privilege to fail to see that people of all different shapes participate in different lifestyles. Unless they’re only observing what’s published by mainstream media – in that case you’d go for months (maybe even years) without seeing any kind of positive representation of a fat person’s lifestyle.

I wrote a FA101 post on my blog just the other day and I said, “The truth is, healthful and not-so-healthful behaviours are performed by EVERY sort of body.” I guess that’s just not an interesting enough news story for these journalists, when they get more ratings out of pumping out manufactured stories that fuel hurtful assumptions about people’s body types and the kind of lifestyles those bodies lead. The media characterises fat people as lazy, disorganised and unattractive and a “lifestyle swap” story would only serve to make a fat person complicit in this characterisation, something we think is dishonest, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s just not an accurate reflection of society. I guess “URGENT BULLETIN: WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT. In related news, fat people have heads and feelings.” is the kind of headline I can only envision in fits of mirth and delusion.

We at Axis of Fat are, sadly, rare kinds of publicly and unashamedly fat individuals, and it’s natural that we’d be approached to represent fat people. When the angle is as damaging as this, we will not be complicit. What kind of person would submit to having their character slighted in such a way? To the current affairs program we turned down – we aren’t regretful not to take part in this story, and we hope that no fat person agrees to participate in this “lifestyle swap” segment. I’m pretty sure you’ll have terrible luck scouting talent from fat acceptance blogs anyway. However, if you’ve got time to fill on a slow news day we’d love to talk to you about producing a fair and positive story about visible fatties fighting social injustice.

Virginia Haussegger and the Goldilocks problem

Virginia Haussegger hates skinny women. She also hates fat women. She’s like Goldilocks, she prefers her women “just right” but I prefer to think of her as someone who hates all women.

The latest edgy op ed out of the Australian media (y’all realise this won’t make us buy more print media if it’s available online for free, right?) declares supermodels to be freaks of nature, while fat women to be part of a scandalous and [insert fat related joke re: growing] problem. Does Ms Haussegger get to decide the golden mean? Yeah right, what has two fat thumbs and thinks you’re a concern trolling fluff writer? Me (and Bob Kelso).

I’m not entirely sure what the writer (term used loosely) is trying to argue. She slags off models, most of Australia, fat people, Minister Kate Ellis’ national body image strategy without offering a single useful solution. No wait, she rails against the “health problem” and “omgbesity” and throws her hands up in the air and says THE SKY IS FALLING, no, SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

What Virginia Haussegger does not take into consideration is that:

If Virginia Haussegger were really going to be the Mother Teresa to the fatties of the world (and Mother Teresa is probably an apt role model here as an advocate of suffering) she’d start by recognising her conditioning and making headway on her fat bias. Slapping a headless fatty photo on the article does not tell me that she genuinely cares about health, it tells me that Virginia Haussegger hates fat bodies.

“Stop empowering fat people.” Wait, WHAT?


Seriously, that is the title of the op-ed piece that’s been spewed across the front page Australia’s biggest news website,, and printed in the Herald Sun.


Now, I’m kind of pissed off, so this blog isn’t going to be all tra-la-la citing studies and the like.


It’s a visceral fucking reaction to the idea that fat people are empowered. Um, NO. In fact, I would go so far as to say EPIC NAH. Because we aren’t empowered. We’re fucking marginalised.


Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?


First, some standard skinny-bashing:


Indeed, this month’s Fashion Week In Melbourne abandoned the usual stick insects for some models who were size 14-18


Can’t have thin women feeling good about themselves, nope.


Let’s be honest.


Oh, this ought to be good.

While these women might make us feel better about our bulging butts and guts, the truth is, few women over a size 14 are in a healthy weight range.


So feeling good about yourself is unhealthy? I’m just going to time out for a second here, and point out that your mental health is so important, and so often pushed aside in favour of the more visible physical health. Healthy self-esteem is incredibly good for you.


As for the horseshit about being over a size 14 and OMG OBESE, I shall direct you to Kate Harding’s BMI Project. See what underweight, normal, overweight and obese really look like. It might surprise you.


Most of the women on catwalks are freaks of nature and it is only right that the pendulum is swinging towards more achievable bodies.


So if you’re skinny, you’re a freak, but if you’re a size 14, you’re OMGOBESE?! Narrow standards of beauty indeed.


But there is a limit. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but some of the women being embraced as positive role models and ambassadors for larger people are obese and should lose weight for health reasons.


Oh heehee, I know it’s not PC! UR SO EDGY BB.


Except, you’re not, because you’re espousing a view that is the norm. THE NORM.


And of course, it’s not because people are ew yuck gross fat. It’s just for their health. Of course. Because by looking at someone you totally can guess every aspect of all their health issues. Great! No more going to the doctor – just email them a photograph and they can diagnose you like that?


Also, hey, Susie O’Brien? You’re not an MD. SO SHUT UP. (Come on, if she was an MD, she’d have mentioned it. Just sayin’).


Okay I need to point something out here:


And, reflecting the expanding girth of many Australians, more and more retailers, such as Myer, Sportsgirl and even Ed Hardy, are jumping on the bandwagon, and offering larger sizes.


Sportsgirl goes to a SIZE SIXTEEN. That’s one size above the national average, and is considered a missy size. And last time I was in a Sportsgirl (admittedly a long time ago, because it’s overpriced Supre-esque cack, in my humble opinion), the size sixteens are not generous. At all.


Yes, larger teens deserve to be able to wear fashionable clothes, like everyone else. But the discourse of self-empowerment surrounding the move is stopping us asking why so many young people are size 16 or more in the first place.


No, it’s not. Fat teens can wear fat clothes while you pontificate about losing weight. It’s not an either/or situation, people.


And this is nearly making me cry: a discourse of self-empowerment.


Why, why, why do people want others to feel bad about themselves? How is it productive? How is it helpful? Whether it’s being fat, skinny, or any other trope, why is being different so offensive?


Sure, such moves reflect the reality of a rapidly growing population, but they also serve to normalise a size that is not healthy for most young people.


And back to the diagnosing entire swathes of people based on how they look.

Ooh, cognitive dissonance time:


In recent weeks the debate has been spurred on by the larger thighs and flabby tummy of 20-year-old model Lizzie Miller in Glamour magazine in the US.

Readers in the millions embraced the image of the gorgeous, naked young woman letting it all hang out for the cameras. But at 180cm and 76kg, she’s hardly plus-sized.


Okay, so she’s got large thighs, and heaven forbid, a flabby tummy.


But suddenly she’s not plus-sized? WELL GEE, WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT. Whose side are you on, anyway, Susie?

Losing weight is hard work. It takes sacrifice and effort. As a mother of three in my late 30s with a new gym membership, I know this first-hand.


The tiniest violin in the world, bb. And maybe an *emotear*. Seriously, you have post-pregnancy weight? Maybe it’s just because you gestated three new human beings inside you. That’s pretty awesome, and tends to change your body shape. Yeah.  And as for sacrifice – well, yeah, if you mean sacrificing your mental health, probably your physical health once you gain it back (because why would we have a diet industry if we could all lose weight and keep it off?), and hell, any interesting kind of food.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but food’s pretty awesome.


It’s much easier to accept the pro-fat manifesto than hit the treadmill.


Just, no. If it was easier to be pro-fat, we’d have taken over by now.

Let’s face it, Australians – like Americans – do not need any encouragement or permission from role models in the media to put on weight.


Thanks for fighting the good fight against positivity and healthy self-esteem in the media, Susie! Fortunately for you, size-acceptance is still a significant minority in terms of media coverage, so not to worry there. A nice underhanded anti-American slight too – very smooth.


Alarmingly, a new Australian study of more than 30,000 people shows obese and morbidly obese men are less depressed and less suicidal than those of a normal weight.


You know why Susie? You really want to know why? C’mere, I’ll tell you a secret.




FAT PEOPLE EAT. People who don’t eat or diet tend to (anecdotally, this is my experience) feel like absolute shit because they are hungry all the fucking time. It messes with you.


But it’s time to get real – fat people may be happier but they’re also digging their graves with a fork, and we’re all paying for it.


Well, you should be happier that we’re killing ourselves! Because then you’ll get to stop paying for us! (As stupid as that concept is, because we have semi-socialised healthcare here).


And we get to the crux of the article. Underneath all the ‘but it’s for your health’ hand-waving, Susie O’Brien just thinks fat people cost too much. And are ugly.


Look, if you don’t want to give us nice clothes to wear, that’s fine. Just get us a clause to go around naked.


Source: (careful of the comments, they tend to represent the lowest common denominator.)

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