Today on the UK show Loose Women, singer/songwriter Jamelia suggested that women who are too fat or too thin should not have the same access to clothing that other women do:
I do not think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle. In the same way [that] I don’t believe that a size zero should be available, it’s not a healthy size for an average woman to be.
I don’t believe they [high street stores] should be providing clothes for below that range or above that range. Yes, have specialist shops but you should feel uncomfortable if you are unhealthy … to be available in every high street store, I don’t think that’s right.
So Jamelia has proven (once again) that becoming a celebrity doesn’t stop you from being a massive bigot. And make no mistake, this is bigotry. Saying “that person shouldn’t have what I have because they look different than me” is bigotry, pure and simple however one tries to justify it. Even if we buy into her idea that we can tell someone is unhealthy based on their size, saying “those people shouldn’t have the same access I have because they are less healthy than I am” is still bigotry (healthism FTW!). After people attempted to educate her, she went on Good Morning Britain to whine about how “absolutely awful” it was for her that people didn’t respond positively to her blatant bigotry, and then gave possibly the worst apology of all time:
Knowing that I made people question themselves and their choices, it really did upset me. All I can do is apologise for that.
Thanks for apologizing, I’m glad you learned… oh wait, there’s more:
“I didn’t make it clear on the show that I was talking about extremes, I was talking about above size 20 and below size six, those sizes being available en masse, I do stand by what I said. I’m a real woman with real opinions. I get paid to voice my opinions.”
Getting on TV and saying “I don’t like stripes with polka dots” is voicing an opinion. Getting on TV and saying “People who are a different size than me shouldn’t have the same access to clothes that I do” or, as she has clarified “If I don’t think that people are healthy based on how they look, they shouldn’t have the same access to clothes that I do” is an abuse of power and privilege specifically and purposefully intended to create oppression. I think that if she is that excited to use her platform to oppress women (in this case women above size twenty and below size six, but who knows what group she’ll want to oppress tomorrow), maybe people and television shows shouldn’t be so excited to pay her for her opinions.
For those Constitutional Scholars about to yell about “free speech” free speech is not the same thing as consequence free speech. Even if we are talking about the way it works in the US, the first amendment says “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech” it does not say people aren’t allowed to speak out against your bigoted bullshit, nor does it say that television shows are obligated to give you forum to spread your bigoted views.
She rounded things out with this:
I genuinely love people and believe everyone has the right to feel wonderful and feel beautiful and it was never my intention to make people feel any less than what they are.
Riiiiight. Let me rephrase this: “I love people, I just think that they should have difficulty clothing themselves, feeling uncomfortable and ashamed until they reach a size that is neither too thin nor too fat for my liking because, having a dramatically over-exaggerated sense of self-importance I, Jamelia, think that I should be the judge of what size other women are allowed to be if they want clothes.” As a woman above a size 20 (and thus on the official Jamelia “NO CLOTHES FOR YOU!” list) suffice it to say that I’m not feeling the love.
Obviously, being unable to easily access clothing is not even remotely correlated with people becoming healthier, or being between a size 6 and a size 20 (I’m not sure if her range is inclusive of sizes 6 and 20 or if they are on the NCFY list as well? Maybe I should ask her to clarify?) Horrifyingly, the original discussion was about the health of teen girls – the group most susceptible to eating disorders, so way to go there Jamelia. Perhaps more horrifyingly, Jamelia is a parent herself. Yikes.
Do you want to do something about this? Great, because this is some bullshit and people need to know that we won’t stand idly by while they trumpet size bigotry as if it’s public health policy. Here are some options for action:
You can tweet her @jamelia
You can post on her facebook page (where she is trying very hard to re-write history, which is going to be tough since those opinions she’s paid to voice are voiced on camera).
You can tweet the show @loosewomen
You can contact the show at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can let other people know what’s going on and encourage them to take action!
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