What We Missed.

Dana takes on the $17 million program to fight rape in Congo. Is it working?
The case against using “real” to describe plus size models.
NYTimes reviews the show, “Huge.”
I was on Grit TV talking about Nikki Haley!
It is the She Writes One Year Anniversary. Learn more about them.

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  • Tabitha

    RE: Plus-size models:
    Seriously, is Kate Dillon plus-size?? She looks to be about a size 8-at most, size 10.
    Although I don’t think size 4 is any less “real” than a size 12 (I’ve been both sizes and all the sizes in-between), I understand why people use the term.
    I think many women see the super-skinny models and can’t see their size as a “reality” for themselves. Many models today aren’t size 4, rather they are size 0 or 2. This standard is usually not realistic for women who are A) not genetically predisposed to be this thin or B)not in their teens or 20s. I’m not even going to get into the discussions concerning eating disorders or drug use.
    My own personal opinion is that the fashion industry is EXTREMELY out of touch with average women. By average, I mean that in terms of weight and in terms of the money one can afford to spend on a single item of clothing.
    Simply finding clothes to wear to work is a chore. I don’t work in a conservative profession and can wear about anything I want. But so many clothes are suited for clubbing or hanging out in trendy restaurants. The selection is slim unless you have lots of $$$ to spend.

  • Kessei

    I’m always glad to see the crisis in the DRC get more coverage, but Goldstein badly misses some of the more important parts about the issue.
    First, she responds as if the DRC actually has a government which can do much of anything, and talks about 2006 “democratic elections” and so forth. I would strongly encourage her to read the Department of State’s Human Rights Report on the DRC for the past several years, or anything put out by Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch on that country. Security forces there act with impunity. The government in Kinshasa, if it even wanted to do so, lacks the ability to have real control over armed forces at a local level, particularly in more rural areas and in the eastern parts of the country. Of the 200 courts which are supposed to be in existence, only 50 are usually operating at any given time. The government is rife with corruption, and it’s well known that citizens are detained arbitrarily and tortured.
    Then there’s the nature of the ongoing conflict itself. Mining and other economic issues play a large role, yes, but the article completely misses a HUGE part of the problem: inter-ethnic tension. What’s referred to as “rebels” are a complex network of groups which in no small part consider themselves “freedom fighters” for various tribal minorities, many of which suffer oppression, and probably chief among them in South Kivu (notorious for the sexual violence) are the groups referred to collectively as “Banyamulenge”. They were subjected to systemic oppression for a long time, including the use of rape as a weapon of war, and now “their” forces use the same tactic against others (and, as the article notes, they are sometimes funded by the Rwandan government, making this an international rather than purely domestic problem).
    Nor are the government and the “rebels” the only forces at play. There are also local, community militias – Mai Mai – which engage in violence against neighboring areas or refugees coming into their territory. Some Mai Mai are well organized and run by “generals”, others are little more than collectives of local muscle.
    This is a highly complex issue, and while I think it’s important to hold the mining companies responsible, at the end of the day there appears to be no one willing or able to create order there. Economic conflict is not the only source of the tension.
    And let’s not forget that this is a country with other serious problems. The infant mortality rate is estimated to be around 70-85/1000 live births, and the under-5 mortality rate is around 100/1000 births. Yes, that means that one in ten children will die before the age of five. Only between 10-20% of urban residents have access to adequate sanitation systems, and there’s only adequate water sources in about 15-20% of rural areas. The median age is estimated at about 16 years old, and there is an average of about 6 children born to each woman. It’s estimated that only about half of adult women are able to read.
    So, is seventeen million going to do anything? Yes, I’m sure it is doing some good. But we’re talking about a drop in the bucket here, regardless of how it’s utilized.
    The DRC is a failed state, and even if we followed Goldstein’s suggestion and made the mining corporations play nice, it is not going to fix the problem. This issue is not simply about a “war over control of mineral deposits.”

  • Sarah

    I appreciate Starre Vartan’s article. I’m extremely petite, and I’ve repeatedly run into the assumption that I’m starving myself. The phrase “real women have curves” is offensive to me, though I do understand and welcome the motive behind it. I’m small, but I’m hardly less than a real woman, and I’m tired of being told that I need to eat more. Finally, it’s tiresome to hear the repetitive trope that clothes are only made for skinny women. Believe me, plus-size women are not the only women who have difficulty buying clothes. Try being a size 0 who’s under 5’2″.

  • davenj

    But lots of stuff gets advertised in different ways than one would suspect. Advertising rarely features the “average”, as it intends to portray the product as making the purchaser anything but average. Ever seen a commercial for skin care that featured someone with average skin? Never happens. The same is true of sneakers, toothpaste, and just about everything else. That doesn’t mean that advertisers are out of touch, though. It might mean that they’re actually in touch, moreso than we even think.
    I mean, these folks are in business for a reason, and the successful ones are successful because their marketing and pricing strategies work.
    I know some fashion marketing students, and a lot of the things that get decried here aren’t really unsuccessful at all. Thin runway models, high priced clothing and accessories, and creating the culture of otherness works.
    That doesn’t mean it’s not bad for folks who get othered by the industry, but just about every product sells a fantasy, to some degree.
    What’s unfortunate is that if society tells most women to hate their bodies then there will always be a fantasy to sell. Fantasy is built on the cornerstone of dissatisfaction, and can actually serve to perpetuate culture just by existing.
    So yeah, “Many models today aren’t size 4, rather they are size 0 or 2. This standard is usually not realistic for women who are A) not genetically predisposed to be this thin or B)not in their teens or 20s.”, but if you’re selling the fantasy of being thin, or the fantasy of youth, then you’re not going to use size 12 models or people in their 40’s.
    That doesn’t mean that a company is out of touch, though, it just means they’re in touch with social desires that can be destructive to people, particularly women.

  • AThoughtyThought

    Agreed! While I believe that I haven’t dealt with nearly the same amount of discrimination or cruelty that curvier woman have, people have given me a lot of crap about being skinny. For me, this is real. I have a naturally thin frame and for some reason people think that the fact that I’m “not fat” gives them license to talk about my body freely. Not cool.

  • MzFitz

    This is the best thing I’ve read about healthy body image in a long time:
    The way to true gorgeousness is through healthy eating and sweat-inducing activity, not ‘acceptance’ (whatever than means), or denigration of those who are smaller or larger than we are.
    This attitude doesn’t leave anyone out, but instead celebrates who we are in all our infinitely beautiful variety. A focus on health also prevents disease (saving us all money) and contributes to a smaller environmental footprint, better sex drives and overall happiness. Starving yourself or gorging yourself on garbage food does neither. Let’s put real healthfulness at the top of our ‘beauty’ wish lists.

  • diazanon

    Fat Acceptance exists because fat people are made to feel like outsiders every damn day of their lives. through advertising, tv shows – even the belief that to be acceptable means exercising daily (to excuse your fatness, obviously).
    The word “real” is used in describing these unseen larger women – because in most cases, when you see a woman on the television/ad/movie/etc she is a size that is unrealistic for people (without trainers, money for healthy foods on a daily basis etc) who are NOT in that industry to attain. FA isn’t about hating on skinny people or women. It is about creating an environment where fat people don’t feel bad about themselves – every single one of you who are protesting the term “fat acceptance” or “real” needs to realize that EVERY day, sometimes EVERY MINUTE of the day – fat people are conscious of their size. And have people judge them by that. Treat them differently. No one wants to sit next to the fat person on the bus. Think about that. All the seats will be taken before the one next to you. Even IF you only occupy the space of one seat.

  • MzFitz

    I accept that everyone is naturally going to have a different body. I also understand that some people will treat their bodies respectfully, and never be what the media portrays as “healthy.” I really like this quote because it presents a level of personal responsibility for people of all body types. I only care about the weight of others when I see people I care about doing destructive things, and see their bodies react accordingly. Sedentary lifestyles and processed food are a relatively new phenomenon in human evolution.
    I work out 5 days a week and don’t eat processed food. With a lot of attention to detail and hard work, I weigh what my doctor wants me to weigh. I don’t do this because I feel the need to look like a movie star. I do this because I have health problems that can be controlled this way without the use of pharmaceuticals Can I ask the overweight women who I work with who make fun of me for not eating fast food, not drinking soda, taking the stairs, and going to the gym to accept me? Am I not “real?”
    If a woman is unhappy with an aspect of her life, it is up to her to take positive steps toward change.

  • PDXHopeful

    Yup. I’m 4′ 10″, no curves to speak of, and I’m pretty much confined to Banana Republic’s 00P or GapKids’ 12. I realize companies have to set their size range somewhere, but it gets old and I didn’t choose my height and frame any more than anyone else did.

  • Sunset

    I don’t think many of us object to “fat acceptance” per se. “Real”, to me, is a different matter, because there are those of us who more or less naturally conform to that standard. And who are constantly harassed about it based on the assumption that we must be starving ourselves/had surgery/otherwise altered our bodies. The ultimate problem here is a society that pits women against each other. We don’t need to have anyone be othered. At all. It’s the same social double bind women are always in with regards to beauty. Be thin – but not too thin. If you’re fat, you’re disgusting and unhealthy; if you’re thin, you must be shallow and self-absorbed.

  • sonia

    I really don’t think that review of “Huge” is that great, I especially don’t like that it starts the article talking about “gainer blogs.” I don’t think the character Will wants to change her body at all but is using the “I want to gain weight while I’m here” as a verbal tool of rebellion. I did, however, really enjoy the show. Lesley of Fatshionista did a wonderful recap of it here: http://www.fatshionista.com/cms/index.php?option=com_mojo&Itemid=69&p=433

  • gmonkey42

    I agree that we need to stop using the word “real” to imply that other people aren’t real but:

    The way to true gorgeousness is through healthy eating and sweat-inducing activity, not ‘acceptance’ (whatever than means)

    Really? That might sound good at first glance but the meaning I get from it is “don’t be a bad fatty.” Fat Acceptance is about eliminating prejudice and discrimination against people based on their body size & shape. I don’t get why that’s so hard for the author to understand that the scare quotes and parenthetical snark were necessary. Nobody has to be gorgeous/healthy/whatever in order to deserve human rights. Taking fat-hatred and transferring it to hatred of people we perceive to be unhealthy doesn’t solve anything.