Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This week over at Jezebel Dodai wrote a post about Nigella Lawson, author of "How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking." She a celebrity chef in Britain and apparently people have been saying that she's getting fat. Lawson takes her critics to task, saying that it's gotten to the point where beauty is almost entirely equated with thinness.

Also on the topic of the media's love affair with calling people fat, Zuzu at Feministe writes about Jennifer Love Hewitt's recent response to people saying she has a fat butt. Hewitt writes that she's not concerned for herself, but rather all the women out there who are struggling with body issues.

I was really interested to see the number of comments over at Jezebel that basically said, "but she's not fat!" re: Lawson. Hewitt's post contains this as well. She says "size two is not fat." Both the comments at Jezebel and this comment from Hewitt point out a legitimate problem in our society. Women in general, but celebrity women in particular, are held up to ridiculous and unrealistic standards.

On the other hand, I think these comments conceal something that further adds to our collective psychosis over body image. Here's what I want to ask: What if Lawson and Hewitt were fat?

It's important that we point out that calling either Lawson or Hewitt fat is ridiculous. But it may be more important to for us to say that being fat does not make someone ugly, lazy, or valueless.

Hewitt is right, this fat-policing of celebrities stuff isn't really about communicating directly with the celebrities. What it's really about is making it damn clear to everyone what are acceptable body types and what are not.

Our ideals for our celebrities are like a cracked mirror that tells us all about our own insecurities and desires. The mirror tells us that we cannot let ourselves get old without intervention (but that if we have plastic surgery, it's taboo to go out until it's fully healed), it tells us that cellulite "ruins" our legs, it tells us to be hairless, white, and sexually available, but not slutty.

It's not enough for us to protest, "but I don't have those flaws" when we fail to live up to the image. That doesn't break the mirror; it just passes it on to someone else.

PS: I really liked Lawson's late husband's book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I agree with your overall points about obsession with thinness in the media, I want to know what the difference is between the celeb-gossip websites that you point out and websites like gofugyourself.com, which don't lambaste women for their body size, but for their taste in fashion.

Why does one type of teasing, mocking, gossip, etc make us (us being feminists and other liberally minded friends) upset, but another type we find perfectly amusing and acceptable?