Lee Randall: Shapely and timely rescue from myself
SOMETIMES all I want to do is lie down on the floor and howl at the moon. For instance, when I gaze upon pictures of myself captured only last week.
In one, a faint double chin makes an appearance – caused by the slackening that accompanies middle age as much as anything else, but that's no consolation, is it? Merely one more gripe to add to my catalogue. In another of these photographs I'm plopped down alongside two slender friends. Captured full-on, my generous pear proportions spread – make that ooze – across the entire sofa.
And this is me "thin".
A wise colleague has threatened to shake sense into me if I continue whingeing about my physical failings and, more to the point, if I continue obsessing about them and allowing them to corrode my self-esteem. She gave me a copy of Eve Ensler's The Good Body, a slim volume that packs quite a punch, insofar as it reminds me that all the time (countless hours) spent bemoaning my fat this or lumpy that, is time I do not spend contemplating actually important things taking place in the world or even in my own life. In fact, extreme self-consciousness is narcissism's conjoined twin.
Which is why, as I said last week, I'm ever so thankful not only for the Enslers of this world, but for people such as US-based writer Kate Harding and all who contribute to her blog, which you will find at www.kateharding.net. That's the URL, but it's actually known as Shapely Prose, and affectionately – by the three main contributors themselves – as the Fat-o-sphere. (Indeed, Americans can already read the book, Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body, but we UK residents must bide our time until a savvy British publisher snaps up the rights.)
Shapely Prose has a feature called "douchehound", in which they relegate particularly sexist and fatist commentary to their hall of shame with enough blistering commentary to render the perpetrators eunuchs.
A recent post, for example, rakes askmen.com over the coals for a slideshow entitled Top 10: Subtle Ways to Tell Her She's Getting Fat.
This collection of misogynistic vitriol includes such gems as "buy her clothes that are too small" and "serve her unsatisfactory portions" in order to shame her into revealing that she's gained a bit of weight. As SP correctly points out, "shame doesn't make women thin". And that's merely the polite part of their post!
The site is also a noisy, companionable community, offering generous space to comments.
That makes it ideal for anyone who lacks a venue such as this one in which to vent their considerable spleen, bemoan injustice and inconsistency, or celebrate their folds and foibles. It strikes me that this is exactly the kind of safe haven that intelligent women need in life, regardless of how well or poorly things are going.
Whenever I'm in danger of disappearing up my own generous backside – which is frustratingly often – I find solace in visits to places like Shapely Prose, and those listed in their links section.
It's a good kick up the backside and an inspiration, seeing them take on everyone from the media to the Food and Drug Administration.
Here you'll find intelligent analysis of celebrity fat stories (ie: Kirstie Alley, Oprah), the latest scientific studies about diet, nutrition and obesity, investigations of the link between body image and spirituality, and a cache of moving personal tales about individual battles to achieve "fat acceptance" and live life in the here and now, rather than putting it off until that almost always imaginary day when you achieve the "perfect" size.
Ultimately, Shapely Prose is a bit like my colleague. It shakes me soundly by the scruff of the neck, reminding me, that, to paraphrase Susie Orbach, fat still isa feminist issue.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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