Jordan Ramos, a self-described plus-sized college student, was repeatedly denied access to a dance platform in a bar on two visits. She was told by bouncers “‘Look, you will never get up on this platform. Go back to the dance floor where you belong,’ and ‘You’re not pretty enough and you’re pregnant.’
Ramos tried to pursue legal action but was told that she had no recourse because there is no law against size discrimination. Ramos puts her case succinctly “”We all paid the same cover to get into the Union, but we’re not given access to all the same things they have to offer.”
There is an unspoken contract between TV Producers, Filmmakers, bouncers at bars, and camera guys who roam through crowds on mardi gras and carnival – a contract that they will maintain the status quo, they will use their power to reinforce the cultural stereotype of beauty and to put down all other bodies. To show fat people as headless torsos to reinforce the idea that we are less than human, that we deserve to be made into objects of ridicule.
They constantly reinforce the idea that beauty only comes in one size. Then they use the fact that people buy into something that is constantly shoved down their throats as proof of the concept, never taking responsibility for their role.
Which is to say that they will not be the ones to change this. We will. We have to keep pushing to see people of size dance on platforms and be in films and on TV including our heads and legs. But we have to start with challenging our own perceptions, as I was recently reminded.
A year or so ago, I joined a plus-sized cabaret in Austin. You may remember that I blogged about how excited I was about the opportunity to be part of challenging the stereotype of beauty and sexiness. I had wanted to be in a plus-sized cabaret ever since I saw The Glamazons on America’s Got Talent. It was sold to me as a professional dance group. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an embarrassment and when our “Director”stopped singing and then said “I’m sorry y’all, I burped” INTO THE MICROPHONE while the rest of us dancers tried to writhe sexily in our fishnets, black lace bras and unbuttoned men’s shirts, it was time to go – though it took me some time to come to terms with it.
I decided not to start my own group in Austin because it seemed tacky to compete, but now that I’m moving to LA one of the first things I am going to do is start a plus sized cabaret that I can be proud of. So I posted on Facebook “As soon as I get to LA I’m going to start a plus size cabaret.”
I was soon told by a friend that thing had gotten ugly on the Facebook page of the director of the the cabaret I had been in, claiming that I had “stolen her idea” (apparently she feels that the concept of a plus size cabaret initiated with her.)
I checked it out. The first thing she did was call me a Fat Bitch, then another member of the group chimed in to say that I was a “Gatorade Bottle Shaped Bitch”. It went on for a while, until someone suggested that perhaps women who claimed to be all for body positivity should not criticize me for my body. She was told by way of explanation that the “Gatorade Bottle thing went way back”. Charming.
The point of me telling you this story is that I get hate mail disparaging my body all the time, but this hurt more. It’s not that the insults were clever – obviously they weren’t, but there is a whole different sting when it is fat on fat hate. Going for the cheap body insults is just classless. We face so much hatred from the outside world, we should never, never do it to each other.
We are fed the single standard of beauty incessantly and so I don’t think that there is any shame in having a knee-jerk reaction sometimes about bodies that don’t look like the stereotype. I think that there is a problem with not challenging those feelings, or, you know, luxuriating in them. I use a little mantra – whenever I have a knee jerk reaction I think to myself “I will not be a tool of this beauty lie – all bodies are beautiful.” Then I consciously adjust my thoughts.
I believe that all bodies are beautiful – including the Gatorade bottle shaped ones and yours!
UPDATE: I made my dream come true and More Cabaret is putting on it’s first solo show on September 8th. Buy tickets to watch locally, or watch on your computer wherever you are through our live streaming!
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