Monday, October 14, 2013

Big Women

They bother people. They bother people in a way that I think big men don't bother people. You can think a man is a fat slob, but it doesn't offend you at your core they way a big woman does. I'm not even sure I know why this is. Of course, I've had it drilled into me that women are supposed to look a certain way, and so I can barely imagine what it's like to think that a larger woman is attractive. Right now I'm thinking about two things on this topic. One is Melissa McCarthy, who is a lightning rod in a way I think I haven't seen anyone be for a while. She got an "Elle" cover. She's got this great, tousled, big hair, and she's wearing a coat with her hands in the pockets and it's sort of scrunched up. To me, it looks like she got up to see her lover off in the early morning and the first thing she laid her hands on was this coat, to cover up her...lingerie? Nakedness? Whatever. I think it's an amazingly sexy cover and it makes me THINK in a way that Reese Witherspoon's cover doesn't. (Marion Cotillard's cover just makes me sad for the ribs that you can see from the back). I'm fine with this cover. It's flattering. It makes her look good. I think...and if anyone actually reads this, I'm going to take a ton of flak for this...that Melissa McCarthy, while beautiful and extraordinarily funny and willing to take risks, doesn't look all that good dressed up. (I said it. Please forgive me). Or at least in what she's been dressed up in. So I can see why they went with an amazing coat and amazing hair and a sultry look. Okay, so there's that. But more interesting, is, why does she piss people off so much? I think it's because she's willing to take up room. Yes, I said that, too. Women are allowed to be successful as long as they don't occupy too much space doing it. They can be rich, they can be talented, they can all sorts of things, but they can't take up space. They have to be demure in some way, and if physically is the only way we can get, well, that's what we'll take. I remember reading somewhere that the more successful and visible women become, the greater the pressure for them to be small. Petite. Narrow. They have to deny themselves in some way. Now, I understand that no one wants Henry VIII, of any sex, large, starting religions, throwing chicken legs over his shoulder, beheading wives, all because he can't have his own way (no....we just got an entire house of Congress acting that way, and if they could behead, they would), but men can still be big. They can be tall, and broad, and loud and take up room and people think they're wonderful. Everyone, in the end, has to curb his or her appetites to some degree, or not stay in the world, but woman are forced to do this more than men are. So that's what I think about Melissa McCarthy. I think she has it all and so she can't be big, too. I'm also curious to see if there is a point where she does in fact lose weight--maybe if she goes on "Dancing with the Stars" because everyone does then...but every single actress who's said she wouldn't lose weight, has in fact done so. Leah Rimini. Ginnifer Goodwin. Scarlett Johannson. The list goes on. And they were not large women to start out with, they were just not lean and chiseled in the way that's demanded of actresses. Our cathartic stand-ins must not look like us. Okay, I said all that, now I'm going to say the next thing. My daughter went to a Halloween party this weekend, hosted by her boyfriend's cousin. Said cousin is a "Big Person", and either runs or is active in a group of Big People. (Brobdingnagians?) My daughter is just over 5 feet and weighs in the area of 140 (maybe...I don't ask her, she doesn't tell, because it doesn't matter) but they referred to her as "the skinny one". She's a very non-judgmental young woman, so she was mostly describing, not passing judgments, but she said some interesting things. That most of them didn't move much. Once they were seated, they stayed. It was too much effort to move. Many of them were on disability, directly resulting from their weight. They all, she said, had fat aprons. Well, yeah, they did. Now, as I am fond of saying, I am not a small girl, by any measure, except, I guess, by the measure of the Big People, because she said, quite firmly, "You are NOT a big person." So....let's think about this. Let's think about being so big that you more or less have to sit. I was in that condition, having to sit, before my hip was replaced, because the pain was so great if I got up. I hated it, or it at least made me rather unhappy. So I feel as though if I were in a state where I just had to sit all the time, I might want to do something about it, rather than making it a point of pride and a pivotal part of my life. Now, let's think about the whole disability thing. This means, in its starkest terms, that there is a group of people so fat that they cannot earn a living and they have asked the government (because where else does disability pay come from?) to pay them to live. I understand that for some people, there are untreatable conditions that make them that big, but I can't think it's all of them. I also don't like not being productive. I will be the first to admit that I don't have a fabulous career, but I do like to be productive, in a day. Well, maybe they are. I can't say anything about that. But...they're getting PAID. Like someone who was in an accident and can't work. I don't know. I don't know if I can agree. I'll buy that some people are just meant to be that way, but I don't think all. Now...the fat aprons. I have one myself, except I call it a Caesarean flap and I do know I don't like it. I also know that it grows and shrinks with weight gain and loss, so they can be smaller. Wouldn't you hate that? Wouldn't you hate having that for no other reason than because you're fat? But then, if I say these things, I'm not fat accepting. I'm not body accepting. I'm judging. I'm imposing societal standards on people who don't want societal standards imposed on them. But if I keep my mouth shut, am I imposing them? Am I at least allowed to think it? So where's the line? Is Melissa McCarthy the line? Are the Big People the line? Am I the line? My own line keeps moving. For a long time I held tight at 16, and now I tend to think that wasn't a bad thing, either, because once you cross into plus sizes, it's hard to come back. But I think there should be good plus-sized clothes. I think it's wonderful that Isabel and Ruben Toledo are going to do a line for Lane Bryant, because we need nice clothes, too! So I'm torn. As I was at the beginning, I still am. What's fat? And does that matter? Does health even matter? Is is ANY of my business?

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