Talented Fat People Are Not Actually Shocking

Reality and PerceptionI just saw another video on Facebook where I’m supposed to be shocked because someone who is fat, and therefore doesn’t meet the stereotype of beauty, can sing.  What the hell? Yes, in this society we very often choose our singers (not to mention actors and dancers) on their ability to meet a stereotype of beauty first and the ability to sing a distant second.  Thus, unsurprisingly, almost every singer is thin and stereotypically beautiful and many are aided by auto-tune, but we take it to the next level when we allow ourselves to assume that those who are not stereotypically beautiful are not talented.

There are more and more reality shows where people can get 45 seconds to display their talent.  Some of these shows make various attempts to find contestants who are stereotypically beautiful, but some do not.  So when a fat person risks the stigma, shame and bullying that so often come from just existing in public and go onto one of these shows  and turn out to be talented, I think we could live without a million YouTube videos and Facebook posts discussing how absolutely shocking it is that they have talent.

I would like to see a bunch of posts about how shocked people are that they allowed themselves to be lulled into the view that someone who doesn’t fit the cultural stereotype of beauty is unlikely to be talented, or thrilled that someone was able to overcome the prejudice and oppression to get on a stage in front of people and share their talent.  I would like to see a bunch of comments about how absolutely ridiculous it is that every time a talented fat person gets in the public eye we have to deal with people wringing their hands and shrieking about how they are “bad role models” who, they claim even more ridiculously, promote obesity (like people will hear them sing and think – I wish I could sing like that, I guess the first step is to get fat…) In a piece that was supposed to be about Adele and Kelly Clarkson’s performances at the Grammys, Fox news brought in a nutritionist who has never met either woman to speculate wildly about their health based on how they look, and wring her hands and suggest that if girls believe they can follow their dreams even if they aren’t thin then they might not hate themselves enough to be willing to pay nutritionists for weight loss solutions that never work.  Instead of being shocked that these women are talented, how about we be shocked that body shaming them and making blind guesses about their health and food choices on National Television constitutes news on the Fox Network.

This all leaves me to wonder, how many amazingly talented people are we missing out on as a society?  How many horrible actors and actresses do we suffer through because the industry chooses them for their ability to fit a narrow stereotype of beauty (either because of their size, their color, their facial features, or something else), before their ability to act?

Why, as a culture, do we ignore the actual abilities we are looking for and instead make the ability to fit a narrow stereotype of beauty our main criteria?  People come in all shapes and sizes and so it makes sense that talent come in all shapes and sizes. Why are we always so shocked when someone who isn’t traditionally attractive can sing?  What does one have to do with the other?  We’re so conditioned to think that talent only comes in a stereotypically beautifully package that we lose it when Susan Boyle stands up and belts out I Dreamed a Dream.  I don’t mean to shock anyone here, but how someone looks has literally nothing to do with their chances of being a good singer, or actress, or dancer, or anything else.  I think it would be just fantastic if we chose people based on their talent and not on their ability to walk a red carpet in a sample size dress, and even more fantastic if we were more shocked at our society’s prejudice than a fat person’s talent.

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Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm  Comments (73)  

73 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. One of my coworkers said something the other day about how x, y, and z pop stars shouldn’t be famous because they’re not even attractive! I stared at her in shock and said that that was a ridiculous way to judge musicians. She said she was “joking” but she says things like this so often (I’ve heard her make racist and sexist “jokes” as well) and I honestly can’t tell if she’s making jokes in very bad taste, or actually serious and just trying to cover it up when I call her on it. I suspect the latter, which makes me sad. I mean, you’d think a fat woman who works with (non-white, mostly female) refugees would have more awareness than that, right?

    • Some people internalize the hatred so much, they hate themselves, and puppet the “ism” in order to please their overlords. If she’s fat, then hating on other fat people makes here a “good fatty.” If she’s a woman, then making sexist remarks makes her a “good woman.” In her head, and in the heads of bigots who share those particular views.

      I feel sorry for people like that. They live in so much hatred that they don’t even know they’re drowning, any more.

  2. Guessing from the horribly offensive (and triggery in every way) review of Melissa McCarthy’s performance in identity thief written by Rex Reed and PUBLISHED in the New York observer? Where his hatred of the movie is centered entirely on how much he hates that Melissa (who I admire immensely) is in his opinion (trigger warning) a “female hippo”? I’d say we are missing out on no less than millions of actors and actresses who would be spectacular, if only Hollywood would grow up, and remove its proverbial head from its proverbial sphincter.

  3. Ragen, you just nailed why I couldn’t watch the whole video of that young man and his friend singing. The only shock should be that such a young person has such a rich, well developed baritone voice. His appearance has almost no effect on his voice, and certainly it should be no surprise that fat people can sing. (Weight loss has in the past negatively affected some previously spectacular voices, which is why I say ‘almost’.)

    Simon Cowell has no excuse for being horribly shocked that fat people can sing after the biggest singing sensations to come out of his shows keep being fat.

    • Do you reckon the adverse effect could be caused by the fact that, weighing less, they are getting less exercise of the core muscles on a 24/7 basis? I mean, when you’re thin, and you want to boost your work-out, you add weights. And then you take them off. But fat people have strong legs and cores, because we carry that weight ALL THE TIME.

      Not to mention the starvation is that is usually a major part of the weight-loss regimen, which also weakens muscles.

      The fact that fat singers lose some of their voice quality when they lose weight doesn’t surprise me, at all.

      People who lose weight may say (at first), that they feel so much stronger, because they can lift the heavy weights they couldn’t lift before, but fail to consider that as far as the muscles are concerned, they are lifting the exact same amount of weight as before, and they’re totally used to it. But take it away, 24/7, and they soon become UN-used to it, at it becomes a struggle again.

  4. I am multi talented. I am a singer, actress, and especially a writer. When people hear me sing, they are shocked as if they didn’t expect that a fat person could sing the way I do. I also do dramatic poetry reading of my own poetry. Many have told me to audition for America’s Got Talent. I want to so bad, but am afraid of society’s pathetic stigma.

  5. Fat inhibits your ability to sing? Well that’s a new one! Better go fire every opera singer EVER. Seriously, if anything a large frame (i.e. a large diaphragm) greatly aids your air support and ability to sing. And talent, of course, cares not for things like aesthetics.

    • Yes, it does, but this is already affecting the opera world and has for years. Directors have been casting with their eyes instead of their ears for a damned long time now, which is one of the reasons I had to get out of that biz. Just not OK.

      • I was in my choir in high school all four years, my teacher frequently used my voice as an example of what a true first soprano sounds like, yet when it came time for solos and roles during shows I was never given anything that suited my range or my voice. however, a girl with a range equal to mine was given ALL the best solos, best roles and given the public accolades, the difference between us? she was a size 6, I was a 16.

        • Did you or your parents ever call the teacher on this one? Now that you’re well out from under her power, maybe you could go back and tell her not to do that to this year’s crop of young people?

  6. OK, and to to toot my own horn a little bit… I’ve had complete strangers approach me after a performance and THANK me for the pleasure of hearing me sing. Damn, if only I were thin!

  7. I trained first as a pianist, then when I found my voice, became an opera singer. I also supported myself by being a church organist. Subsequently, I got a law degree, and now I work as a problem solver for a wireless infrastructure company, which involves several disciplines – engineering, real estate, law, and regulatory compliance (hint: It’s all music!).

    I have been fat since childhood. My mother was horrified to have a fat daughter, since my 2 older sisters were tiny (I look like my grandma). I was put on my first diet by my pediatrician at age 8. It didn’t work, surprise! My mother “tried everything” to make me thin, from encouragement to shaming (really lovely, from one’s parent, that, but it was “for your own good”). Nothing “worked,” despite it all, I was, and am, still fat. I do wonder how many teens develop mental illnesses from all that stuff done “for your own good,” but I digress.

    Music came easily to me. I started piano at age 5. It was something i could be good at, that nobody could take away from me. The other kids could call me all the names they wanted (and they did), but I had a talent they didn’t have. Sometimes, their jealousy made me a bigger target, but whatever.

    I got my first taste of what you describe in this post when, in undergrad school, I went away to a summer intensive training program for choral conductors. The rather unattractive but skinny older man who ran it praised me or my talent, my studiousness, my work ethic, my desire to learn what he had to offer – and then it came: “If only you’d lose a little weight.” I was crushed. The message? All the talent, ability and work in the world isn’t good enough if you’re fat.

    Well fuck that. I wish I could say I bravely flew in the faces of people like him, but the self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness because of my body size were planted very early, and were planted by the very people who are supposed to pull out such weeds. It was not until I turned 50 that I became nearly militant about size bigotry and stopped apologizing for my existence, talent notwithstanding.

    Ragen, your writing and all the other things you do are so inspiring. I wish you, or someone like you, had been around when I was growing up!

    • I spent a few years singing opera professionally but became utterly discouraged in that short length of time that my career would go anywhere. Even in the opera world, we have devolved into image driven casting. I struggled with eating disorders and depression during that time because I was trying so hard to compete with thinner and more attractive women for a handful of soprano parts. I was always told my voice and my acting skills were top notch, but I should “work on my image”. I wore a size 8 at the time. That is the most depressing part. I was relatively slim, just not slim enough. I was forever relegated to understudy singers who were inferior to me in vocal ability. And I achieved that size 8 by starving myself. Now that I am living with healthy habits, I am much larger, but healthier and happier than I ever was back then. I am a mom now, happily married, and I still sing, but purely for pleasure. I have no desire to try getting back into the business. It’s not worth it to me.

      • There are more of us here than I would have guessed. We need a full-on support group. Either that, or a fat opera troupe. We’d take the music world by storm.

        • Love the idea! We need a politically correct buzzword for “fat” like “More Opera” or “Opera Robustica”. Naaahh… How about Big Fat F*$@king Opera!

          • I love it.😀

          • I’d come see you.

          • Hells yeah, I’d sing for Big Fat Fecking Opera! If y’all can use a 52-year-old dramatic soprano, drop me a line!

          • Sign me up for Big Fat F*$@king Opera – I’m an alto with mezzo tendencies.🙂

          • I would watch you!

        • My voice isn’t operatic in the classic sense, but if the troupe ever expands to doing rock operas, I call dibs on playing the Acid Queen in Tommy.

          I’m just saying.

      • SO true! I’ve been seeing (literally) this for years now. I will maintain that one world-famous female dramatic soprano in particular has a very tinny and shrill voice that hurts my ears.

        My youngest brother’s girlfriend is studying to be an opera singer, and she’s got a wonderful figure, good acting (she’s still learning there) and great voice (to my laywoman’s ear she has a boy soprano with the full power of a grown woman behind it- she’s more of a playful than a dramatic soprano but she sings coloraturas like they’ve been written for her, almost an octave above Queen of the Night). Still, she gets overlooked because she’s not a beauty queen and not one of the currently-en-vogue Russian-style super-dramatic sopranos. Sad. I’ve always liked opera for the range of voices and styles presented, but it’s turning into a quasi-autotuned snoozefest, with the occasional wonderful break at smaller venues.

        I’m currently an expat in Germany and while the great opera houses (especially Stuttgart- most amazing opera ballet EVER!) are good, I’ve found that the less famous and smaller theaters tend to cast singers that make me want to close my eyes and sink into the music, when normally I like having the distraction of the scenery. OK, so opera’s something I only ever listen to live (tends to get on my nerves on CD), but it’s also because most recordings have at least one grating voice that makes me crave a distraction in the form of acting or scenery.

        As for the other thing… I don’t have a great or particularly trained voice but I like singing in a choir, so… if you need a coloratura soprano chorus girl for a summer for your project, I’m in😉

        • Hahahahahaaaaa! All those people who say that opera is “mainly visual” have it all backward.

          Back in the old days, when “the fat lady” actually was allowed to sing, the recordings were top-notch! People bought the records and listened to them all day. Now, when the casting directors insist on “mainly visual,” the people don’t want to LISTEN to the music, but require the distraction of pretty scenery! HAH!

          And you’re right about the smaller productions. They have to take what they can get, and amazingly, they can get some fabulous stuff! When the big places turn down truly talented artists, because they’re not “visual” enough, they go to the smaller ones and BLOW THEM AWAY.

          I love, Love, LOVE my local theater company, because they have some of the finest talent around! And yes, some of that talent is fat, and some have some other visual wonkiness, like a lazy eye, or a scar or what-have-you, and you get them on stage, and you know what? You forget all about any of that, unless they actually include it in the character. You just see the characters.

          One of my favorites is a fat man, and I’m telling you, he was a revelation. I never even gave a hoot about Judd in “Oklahoma” before, but this man made me weep for the poor guy. Yes, I was weeping for the antagonist. Not THAT is talent.

          Also, it’s closer and cheaper than the big fancy theaters. But guess what? This small local theater has won so many awards! One show, a few years back, won 10 or 11 awards for a SINGLE show. It was that good. The scenery is minimal, but that just makes the audience focus even more on the acting.

    • “If only you’d lose a little weight” is wrong on so many levels – not only basic human decency but, in this case, the implications considering the specific activity you were engaging in.

      I’ve heard from professional singers that losing weight changes one’s voice and therefore many are reluctant to attemp weight loss on that reason alone (never mind that permanent weight loss is nearly impossible, we all know the drill here). I don’t know if it’s true because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I guess that if a professional singer says that, there must be some degree of truth to it. It also makes sense from an anatomy/physiology point of view, IMO.

      • Indeed. After Pavarotti did his famous 100-lb. drop in the 90s, his voice was never the same again. It damaged him, and it was tragic.

  8. “[…] wring her hands and suggest that if girls believe they can follow their dreams even if they aren’t thin then they might not hate themselves enough to be willing to pay nutritionists for weight loss solutions that never work.”

    This, This is the explanation. So insightful.

  9. Mr. Twistie told me a story once about how a record label sent an A&R guy to a show to sign up a band that had gotten some strong local buzz. They were hoping to turn the band into a national act and make a lot of money off of them. Well, the A&R guy got to the club late during the band’s break. So he went looking for a member of the band.

    As it turned out, the guy he signed to the label that night because he assumed he was a member of the band… was just some talentless schmoe with a goatee who happened to be at the show. Why did the guy sign him? That great goatee.

    From my own experience, I used to go every summer to a repertory semi-professional theater in the town where I grew up. Dozens of young actors and technicians from all over the country would participate in this program, and it was fantastic. Well, one summer there was this one actor I knew was going places. I will never forget his amazing performance as John Proctor in The Crucible. and his song and dance bits in Chicago? Freaking awesome! That man could do a killer soft shoe dance.

    He actually did go pro, and I know this because I saw precisely three things he did on screen. He was Friar Tuck in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, he was in the British cast of Whose Line Is It, Anyway, and I saw him in a small role as the manager of a seedy apartment building on Frasier.

    This guy should be a household name. He’s that good. But he’s very, very fat. Very few people know who he is.

    Maybe if he had a great goatee….

    • *I* know exactly who you mean. Mike McShane is an incredible talent and is tremendously overlooked and typecast when he does get something. I’m a huge fan.

      • (beams) I should have known you’d know who he is, Helena! You know all the cool kids.

        • Damn right. He’s awesome!!😀 He’s always been a favorite. I’m not surprised that you know him, either!

  10. Being on stage is my absolute DREAM!!!! How can I get past society’s stigma? I don’t want to cave in to society and lose weight. I am fine as I am! Any advice? Please?

    • If your dream is to be on stage, as opposed to making your living being onstage, I recommend auditioning at a local, not-for-profit, non-guild, volunteer community theater. You won’t be paid at all, and it’s a sacrifice, but you will be so much more likely to be cast, and to be able to enjoy the dream of being on stage.

      If you try to go professional, however, my only advice is to learn to tune-out the haters, soak in Size Acceptance as often as you can, and get used to the idea that you’ll have to be ten times as good as anyone else to be considered even half as good as the worst of them. It IS possible, but it’s un up-Everest struggle, and you’re likely to be a “character actor,” who never gets the lead, but can become a recognized actor, who is cast often enough in supporting roles that you can make a living at it. Are you prepared for it?

      Weigh your wishes carefully. Like the opera singers who only sing for their own pleasure, you can enjoy your talent, and share it with the locals (who will be very appreciative!), or you can break every bone in your metaphysical body, throwing yourself against the brick wall that is public stigma, in the hopes of breaking through eventually. It can be done. The question for you to ask yourself is “Is it worth the price to me, specifically?”

      Either way, break a leg!

  11. This makes me think of the horrible things critic Rex Reed said about Melissa McCarthy – who happens to be a very talented actress and gorgeous woman. She’s been acting a long time and unlike so many celebrities who are fuller figured, she’s proven she can be a successful actress, in a wide variety of roles, without having to first get thin.. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rex-reed-defends-melissa-mccarthy-421352

    • Ugh. They actually titled that article “Rex Reed DEFENDS Melissa McCarthy”? What the what?

      He blames the movie’s success on a PR machine, and believes that the backlash against his insults is actually a made-up PR stunt?! Like no one ACTUALLY thought he was wrong? No one ACTUALLY was hurt by his hatred?

      Gee willikers!

      And then he hits the “die of obesity-related diseases” shtick. Ugh!

      I now need a bath.

      As for his “don’t make me the villain,” plea, my response is this: You don’t even rank villain. Villains are smart and/or powerful, frequently cunning, and even classy. If the Minion movie critters weren’t so cute, I’d rank you minion level, but now… What’s below minion on the villainy power scale? Hench-twit?

      How can someone recognize the classiness in her, and yet have so little classiness himself?

  12. Thanks for this post Ragen. Right on the money as usual! Awesome!

  13. Have to disagree here Regan; if you’re talking about Johnathan and Charlotte, he inspired the fuck out of me and made me cry, but not for the same reason as Simon and people like him.

    The reason I think he’s inspiring is because–after being bullied, dropping out of school, getting depressed, and struggling with the idea that, at 17, he might just want to give up–he didn’t let the fuckers win. He didn’t allow the jackasses in his life the pleasure of encouraging him to fail, and then “tsk, tsk-ing” at him because, well, “If only he would have followed my advice.” Rather, *knowing* the bias self-fulfilling prophesies the music industry had laid out for him, he pushed through painful shyness wrought by the shame of a thousand “helpful” comments, and persevered (with the help of a wonderful, supportive friend). They have now released a CD and are preforming regularly.
    https://www.facebook.com/JonathanStavvyAntoine
    https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteJaconelliOfficial

    Idiots on his Facebook page say things like “I’m so proud of your efforts at self improvement. Keep up the good work as you get your health under control!” So, so annoying. They don’t get it,
    but that’s okay. I’ve decide I’m not going to let people who like something for the wrong reasons bias me against liking it for the right ones.

    • I was inspired and impressed by the fabulous friendship! She supported him, and he supported her right back! When the judges gave him accolades for talent, and recommended he drop her from his act, he refused!

      Totally a class act, the both of them! Also, I like the combination of operatic and pop that they have. It’s lovely, in a new and up-beat way.

      The fact that he could sing didn’t surprise me at all, although yeah, that kind of control at that young age is quite a surprise. It’s rare to be that developed so young. What will he be like at 25 or 30?

      And frankly, I’m all for the male/female best friends thing, as well. We need more public role models to show that men and women can, indeed, be best friends without sex getting in the way. The whole “friendzone” thing needs to die a quick death. Friendship is beautiful!

      But I think the thing Ragen was talking about was that whenever people post that video (and others like it about fat singers/dancers/actors), they don’t mention the fact that the fat performer overcame obstacles, nor the heart-warming story of supportive friends and family. They say, “When he walked out on the stage, the judges rolled their eyes, and hoped it would be over soon, but when he opened his mouth, they changed their tune!” Which is, in fact, what happened. Did you see those awful judges’ response when Jonathan and Charlotte walked out? Simon. Ugh.

      Yeah, that particular episode was, indeed, awesome, surprising, and inspiring, but not for the reason most You-tube posters think.

  14. Absolutely excellent post. I passed on the youtube clip of Simon singing because it was beautiful, as was him finding his confidence over the year that followed, but the looks captured by the camera on the faces of the audience before he started to sing… while the 180 turnaround, the smiles and the standing ovations, were nice to see, the whole thing left a nasty taste. I think everyone is shocked when somebody comes onto a show like the xfactor and can sing like that – so few people have that kind of talent – I think the standing ovation would have come for anybody. But the revulsion and snickering beforehand – that’s reserved for the fat and subhuman. Quite disgusting.

    • Agreed. If the snickering and crappy looks are wrong — and they are — then they are wrong regardless of the quality of the subsequent performance. A standing ovation does not negate them.

  15. Awesome article. I also was reminded of how we have a very narrow definition of who someone that can be smart and powerful is as well. Increasingly there is pressure on those who take public office or who are in education and academia to be thin. I am reminded also that race and ethnicity are such huge factors in this as well. We have lost generations of potential in the US that could have been revolutionary simply through fear of people who look different from what we believe is a “norm.” (That sentence originally said “people who looked different from us” which just blows me away because that still remains my unconcious automatic assumption. Must have coffee before my head ‘splodes.)

  16. I wanted to sing. I was told by my mother that I was to fat. By the way, I was also to fat for pretty much everything life has to offer in her opinion: boyfriends, prom, marriage, etc. I stopped wanting to sing. But every once in awhile, the urge to sing publicly grabs me. I squelch it…it’s my kryptonite.

    • The hell with that. Get your ass out there and SING. Kryptonite is all in your head, Sweetie.

      • Thank you. If I only knew where to begin…

        • Either a voice teacher (pricey), or a community musical theatre group. Get to know some folks and start there!🙂

        • The shower is my Carnagie Hall!

          • I put my headphones in and sing in public sometimes, I figure if people are gonna stare because of my size I might as well put on a performance. Also it makes people move on faster – I’m tone deaf, flat voiced and occasional go looking but don’t find the higher notes.

            I’m never going to be a decent singer as I inherited my voice from the wrong side of the family. I do however have to watch what I sing along to, Excitable Boy by Warren Zevon gets you lots of funny looks.

        • Susan Boyle sang at the weekly karaoke night at the local bar, I understand. Then there’s local community theater and such groups. Also, if you’re a member of a church, the church choir. Or, just get together with some of your friends, and form your own garage band. Then, throw your own back-yard barbecue, and say “entertainment will be provided.”

          If you’re doing it just for the fun and joy of it, and not for money, you have a whole lot more avenues to explore.

          Break a leg, and be an inspiration to the younger generation. Teach them that they are not “too fat” to sing/dance/act/attend prom/get married, etc.

          HUGS!

  17. I once read something very offensive to me, which stated that if a female writer is to gain any sort of following, she has to be (conventionally) attractive. I write under a pen name, and I happen to have what I would consider a great face for writing. In other words, I’m not conventionally attractive. I’m incensed that even such talents (whatever I may possess of that) as writing are now relegated to being the domain of supermodels as well in the eyes of the dumb, driven cattle.

    • A-men.

    • Pfft. Even if I *were* thin, I wouldn’t be conventionally attractive. I look like a goth chibi. And that’s without makeup. (I have black hair and a complexion out of a Tim Burton movie.)

      Still gonna write. Still gonna publish. Still determined to make a reasonable living off it once I get back in gear. And I have no idea what kind of writing that article was talking about. There are plenty of unconventionally attractive female writers with HUGE popularity. Must’ve been through Faux News.

      • Why? Why do authors need to be attractive? For their photo on their jacket cover? Pffft, right make-up artist, right hair person and right photographer, we’re all super models.

        • That’s true. I could go the Glamour Shots route and wear a ton of makeup and stuff my boobs into a push-up bra instead of my usual sports bra. I’d do the oh so provocative Duck Face. I’d be hot.

      • I think a Goth Chibi would be quite cool!

        • I don’t know what a Chibi is, but I’ll bet it would be great for your author picture.

          Or, just throw all that “social expectation” out the window, and hire the cartoonist who does XKCD, or Order of the Stick, and have them draw a stick-figure cartoon of you, and use that as your picture. Well, I suppose it would depend on the genre. Wouldn’t be appropriate for a drama.

          I’m not going to let bozos who don’t think I’m pretty enough to write stop me from writing, either. They said the same sort of thing about McCullough, the author of the Thorn Birds. HUGE success, but the obituary wrote about how plain she was. Faugh!

          Actually, I may wind up using a nice shot of my (fat) simself. I rather like my simself. Unfortunately, Sims 2 doesn’t offer as much fatness as I’d like. Sims 3 or Sims 4 offers more variation in size, so I’d make one there, for the picture.

          I love playing fat sims with maxed out body skill.

  18. When I have kids, I’m going to teach them that anyone who tells them, “You’re so talented/attractive/etc, if only you’d change yourself!” is an asshole. And I’m going to teach them to call them on it. And when I get a phone call, I’m going to say, “Yes, you’re an asshole for telling my child that. Or anyone’s child. How dare you be such a fucking asshole. Learn some fucking manners. I’ll be there in 20 minutes to wash your goddamn mouth out with some soap.”

    And when they say I’m the one who needs the soap, I’ll say, “Believe me, you need it more.”

    Yeah, I’m gonna be that mom.😀

    • You. Rock.

    • Can I be your kid, Susan?

    • Susan, I wish you’d been my mom! You do indeed rock!

    • Will you adopt me so I can claim you as my mom?😀

    • You’re a great mum. The world needs more parents like you.

    • Where is the freaking like button?

  19. This post reminded me of the band that performed on Saturday Night Live this weekend, Alabama Shakes. The lead singer and guitar player is a fat woman, and a visibly fat woman at that. She reminded me of Lesley Kinzel who used to write the Fatshionista blog. Another band member, a man, was also pretty fat too, and they were rockin’ it. I’ve never heard of this band, and I’m wondering if them being fat rockers has something to do with it. So kudos to SNL for showcasing them.

    The idea that fat people can’t sing or aren’t talented is a new one on me. I guess nobody’s heard of Aretha Franklin, Kathy Bates or Luciano Pavarotti…

  20. This is an idea that I didn’t even come across until pretty recently, and it smacked me out of left field and left me absolutely gobsmacked.

    I grew up fairly sheltered in a small town, y’see, and yet I grew up around a lot of talented people. I was a theater geek and my mum taught dance and I knew a lot of dancers, singers, actors, and very, very few of these people were anything approaching conventional prettiness. They were beautiful people, don’t get me wrong– just not in the ways society says they ought have been.

    So this kooky idea that fat people can’t sing was only something I even became aware of from watching YouTube videos like that. They make me really disgusted.

    On the other hand, I suppose when you grow up surrounded by something, it’s easy to come to think that’s all there is, and be surprised when you see something else just because it’s never occurred to you before. But that anyone could get to the age those judges are, and live what are probably fairly well-traveled lives to get to the sort of success that leads to television shows, and somehow have just… missed people of great talent who don’t fit a narrow standard of physical appearance… that’s not even sheltered, at that point, that’s just… willfully ignorant, or possibly rock stupid. I mean I want to have a bit of compassion because we all are drinking the kool-aid in one way or another, but really? Just… REALLY?

    Society, your shortcomings leave me very disappointed and sad, and I wish I were a more effective activist because I would like to be doing more about it.

  21. Right on!
    I do eating disorder prevention and early intervention advocacy and this blog post is exactly the message I work so hard to get out there to young girls and teens! Thank you for your great blog!

    • Thanks for the work you do with eating disorder prevention and early intervention advocacy – it is important work and greatly appreciated!

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  22. I watched “The Pajama Game” last night & was quite pleased to see two plus sized actresses singing and dancing along with everyone else. I wondered how hard they had to fight to reach their dreams and how much harder it is today. It’s such a shame that we have to face such shaming in todays world.

  23. I’m in favor of a fat opera troupe lol.

  24. For the ladies who were interested in forming Big Fat F#$king Opera company, someone sent me this article today I thought you would find relevant about the shift to thinner, younger singers.

    http://www.thenational.ae/featured-content/work-in-progress/to-publish/opera-lite-the-weight-debate-rocks-the-concert-halls

  25. Couldn’t have said it better myself!:)


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