I really enjoyed this post, because I found myself nodding my head a lot as I read... I, too, wonder about the boundaries between personal and feminist issues when it comes to weight and body image. On the one hand, it -is- very personal, but I do believe that my perceptions of myself are very much shaped by my cultural environment, and the (unrealistic) standards of beauty we Westerners seem to have adopted.

And yay for WeightWatchers, huh? I love the program, because it really does encourage healthy eating, instead of less eating. I wish more people would give it a try.

h sofia

Weight Watchers really does work. The points system - yay!


I can't stay on even that. I'm pretty hopeless.



Good post, HF.

My trouble with WW is the same as with every other plan out there. I'd rather work out my own disciplines and bargains than rely on somebody else's. In too many other areas of life, I'm already dependent on somebody else's authority. It causes a shit load of anxiety which I figure is the last thing that any woman needs more of regarding food.

I also think that one of the best things I ever did for my body image was become what one columnist called a "voluntary dissident." No more fashion magazines, very little in the way of movies and TV. Helps ratchet the tendency toward self-hatred way the hell down.


An interesting topic.

Men and women are often judged on their appearances. For better or for worse, in many situations, we judge people on first impressions and do not take the time to get to know them.

Clearly the weight issue impacts women far more than men. Although it still hurts men, it is far more acceptable for a man to be "large."

I agree with alsis39 that part of the solution is to boycott fashion magazines (including People, etc...), shows like OC, and movies. It is shame that more movies like Sirens or even My Big Fat Greek Wedding arent made. Movies that demonstrate women as desirable when they are larger than a size 4.

Of course, it is still somehow acceptable to mock short men or bald men. Obviously, such mocking does not result in such severe difficulties as do the eating disorders. But, who amongst us hasnt been the victim of a short man with Napoleon's complex or a bad comb-over.


I think that this issue is affecting more and more men, and that doesn't necessarily mean that this isn't a feminist issue. The increasing objectification of men should be cause for concern within the feminist community, as women increasingly become powerful and sucessful (which is a really good thing) we do have to think about new ideas of masculinty also. Where as masculinity used to be based in the idea of sole provider and protector, now women are taking equal shares in this role. While this is great for women and should definitely be encouraged, we do need to think about positive role models for men. The increasing objectification of men doesn't help this cause at all. Suddenly to be masculine you have to be beefy, obviously mucsular and good looking. I don't really see men and women becoming equally objectified as a step forwards. I'd like to see less objectification full stop.


Ooh, thanks for the link by the way



I think that there's a lot of psychological wisdom in your story. I witness this kind of thinking and feeling almost daily in my work as a clinical psychologist and surely am not immune to these kinds of things myself either.

I, too, agree that this is about objectification. And as Will pointed out, there is something not-so-accaptable in short or bold men as well. The culture "tells" us what to look like. Personally, I think that what we prefer is somewhat biologically based (e.g. evolutionally speaking, it could be argued that taller men have been able to be better providers, which has made them look more attractive). Anyway, what happens with eating disorders shows that it all can't be about biology. Our ability to "rise" above our biology is basically our strength but it also can turn to be our weakness. The cultural expectations can destroy us and our health. People are social, our psyche is contructed in early interactions and I think it is quite natural to seek one's worth and self-esteem in other people and their reactions, yet if we don't have these qualities in ourselves, we won't be able to find them in the eyes of the others, yet that's what we keep looking for. And the vicious circle is there...


I'm not so interested in your body image as I am in Corgi's ... puppy obviously is the one who has the *real* story of personal struggle that we might all learn from. Like when did puppy decide that being svelte was not as important as enjoying many many tasty treats? There's victory in a decision like that.

The Happy Feminist

Oooh interesting points about body image and men. I have noticed that the men I know tend to be less anxious about their weight. Over the past few years, my husband has gone from being rail thin to being quite overweight -- but when his high school buddies visited him and saw how big he'd gotten they all teased him about it and called "fatboy." He thought it was hilarious. (He's also on a diet at the moment and losing quite a bit.) That would never happend with a group of women -- I think women's identity and sense of worth tends to be much more linked to our size than men's identity and sense of worth. For my husband, his weight is just an unfortunate fact that he'd like to change, but it doesn't make him hate himself.

I am not saying that there aren't men who suffer because of their weight -- but I think shortness is probably an even bigger issue. I also suspect that a boy's high school physique may have life long effects on him. If you were a shrimpy boy in high school, are you going to develop differently than someone who was big all along?

As for my corgi, he doesn't seem to have any conflicts. He just wants to eat! The real struggle for those of us who try to resist him . . . I have had issues with my dog's weight too. At my vet's office, I am supposed to weigh my dog in the lobby, and then report his weight at the front desk. I have to admit that I get embarrassed and shave a couple pounds off when I make my report!

The comments to this entry are closed.