The voice is a singing competition with a twist. There are four famous “coaches” (Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine). Each coach picks a team during blind auditions- their chairs are turned so that they cannot see the person singing. If they decide that they want that person on their team, based only on their voice and the crowd’s reaction to them, they press a button and turn their chair around. If nobody presses their button at the end of the audition all the chairs turn around and they talk to the auditioner before sending him/her/them on their way.
When I first heard about this I loved the idea. I’m tired of listening to singers chosen predominantly for their ability to dance and fit a narrow stereotype of beauty. But I’ve noticed something disturbing while watching the show:
Often, when they turn around and find that the auditioner is stereotypically attractive they will say “Oh, I wish I would have picked you!”
And I have to ask why? Regardless of what they look like, they still have the same voice that the coach didn’t choose 10 seconds before.
This is a corollary to ‘Susan Boyle Syndrome” wherein we’ve all bought so much into the idea that all singers are also stereotypical beauties that when someone who does not fit the stereotype walks out onto the stage, we are actually fooled into thinking that their looks have something to do with the likelihood that they are able to sing.
This effect takes a severe toll on fat people. It is assumed that we are not able to sing, dance, run, walk, climb stairs, work hard, cook healthy foods, be in love, have sex etc. We have to look long and hard to find anyone in the media who looks like us and when we do we’ll find that they are constantly being attacked for their weight.
Besides the opportunity to give a message against the shaming and stigmatizing messages of Strong4Life with the billboard I’m really excited about the bus shelter signs in the Georgia Campaign that will be using Marilyn Wann’s I stand photos and will put non-traditional bodies out there in the media in a positive light.
I think that one of the most powerful things that we can do is get ourselves out there. And I don’t just mean doing backflips or running marathons. I mean images of happy fatties doing stuff – doing dishes, hanging out, playing board games, whatever. And for those who love the spotlight, I’d love to see more videos and pictures of awesome talented fatties all over the internet, and I would love to see talented fat people flood auditions until our talent becomes unmistakeable and impossible to ignore.
The judges on The Voice are having a hard time letting go of their stereotypes, we don’t have to make the same mistake. There is nothing wrong with how we look, and there is nothing about how we look that says anything about what we can do.
GEORGIA BILLBOARD UPDATE
The billboards are up. There was a slight problem with technology on two designs, as soon as that’s solved the voting will open but you can check out the new designs on SupportAllKids.com
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