The Fat Shaming of Miss Universe Canada

no-fine-printSiera Bearchell represented Canada in the Miss Universe Pageant.  A reporter at a media event recent asked her “How does it feel to be so much… larger than the other delegates?”

She has been publicizing the fat shaming that she receives, and recently posted “I have a vision to redefine beauty. I have a vision in which women around the world will recognize that true beauty, validation and self-worth start from within.”

I applaud her for what she’s saying and doing (and for not going with the extremely damaging “I’m not fat” defense.) And I encourage her to really mean it by including every body in her work. Too often when people talk about body positivity or redefining beauty, they have limitations and exclusions in the fine print – only certain skin colors, only certain shapes, only certain sizes.  If we are redefining beauty then our redefinition has to include and center the voices of:

  • People of Color
  • Fat people (with absolutely no limits or caveats about size or “health”)
  • Trans and non-binary people
  • Disabled people/people with disabilities
  • Non “hourglass” bodies
  • People who don’t meet current cultural stereotypes of attractiveness
  • People who don’t care about (or can’t afford) clothes that are “in fashion”
  • People who don’t want to (or can’t afford to) wear makeup
  • People who live at the intersections of these identities

We need to be done with concepts about “body positivity” and “beauty” that come with a bunch of exclusions and limitations (based on things like racism, healthism, ableism,  sizeism, and classism.) I hope that Siera Bearchell will be part of the no-fine-print movement that we need to be.

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Published in: on January 31, 2017 at 11:42 am  Comments (9)  

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. good lord.. she’s gorgeous

  2. Kudos to her!

  3. I’d like to ask those who wondered how it feels to be “so much larger” how it feels to be such an utterly shallow asshole.

  4. She’s gorgeous! And I love her quotes, too.

    Can we add people with bad teeth to your list, please, Ragen? I know people who do all the right stuff, brush, floss, rinse with fluoride, and all that, and still have bad teeth, while others who don’t even brush have healthy, strong, white teeth, and it’s all a genetic crap shoot, I think. Yeah, people should practice good hygiene, but sometimes, it’s not enough for “beauty” or “health.” Some people have conditions that give them body odor, no matter how often they bathe. Same sort of thing. The world will tell them they aren’t good enough, but they ARE!

    But you know what? Genes are genes are genes, and they do not make us beautiful, or ugly, or in-between. They make us who we are.

    Beauty is as beauty does, and self-worth really does need to come from the SELF.

    Outside validation is nice, but if you rely on it, you will fall.

  5. You know there’s something completely messed up with society when people of what appear to be of a perfectly average weight for her height is seen as fat. As adjectives go, “fat” is not one I would think of using to describe her. o.O It just seems bizarre when a clearly non-fat person is called fat, but then there ARE a lot of morons out there … and morons like to fat-shame, so there you go or something. As in, it’s as puzzling to me to call her fat as it would be to call her a natural blonde, because she’s clearly not that either. But haters gonna hate? 😦 Kudos to her anyway. She seems like an awesome person!

    • The thing is, fat and thin are on a spectrum, and a lot of what people consider “fat” depends on their social standing, and culture. For example, in Wisconsin, she’d probably be considered average (for size, not for looks, because she’s gorgeous!). However, in Hollywood or the New York fashion scene, anyone above a size 2 is considered fat. So, a US size 4 is “fat,” and a size 6 is “plus size model,” and size 8 is hideously huge.

      That’s just one reason why Ragen doesn’t like the “she’s not fat” argument.

      Another reason is, of course, that regardless of size, even if she were a size 34, she does not deserve that treatment.

      Remember during the Olympics, when people, including reporters, were fat-shaming female swimmers, for being “fat.”? Athletes who worked out full-time, and were obviously fit, were called “fat,” because they had enough body fat to float.

      I once knew a man who was naturally thin, to the point where he could literally walk from the shallow end to the deep end and back again (holding his breath under water), because he absolutely could not float. Never went to the pool alone, because of the danger of drowning. What would you like to bet that he got body-shamed?

      No matter what your size, fat, thin, in-between, or extreme, no one deserve to be body-shamed, but in this day and in our culture, it seems that everybody is, at one point or another, and some bodies are shamed every day.

      • Yup, that’s the saddest part. 😦 No one deserves body shaming, whatever their size.

      • Yes, nobody should be shamed for their size.

        I think the ‘not that fat’ reaction comes from a place of astonishment. I mean, when I am having bad body image days, and I am presented with someone at a smaller size I am unlikely to achieve and told they are fat, I feel even worse about myself.

        It’s a way of acknowledging a warped viewpoint.

        • That’s true. And I totally get that “WTF are you even talking about?!” response. Frankly, that’s often my first reaction when I look at pictures of beautiful people who are, at most, a size 16 (US – I don’t know anything about international sizing), and even more when it is applied to people who wear straight sizes.

          I’ve seen it applied to Hollywood actresses, by people who aren’t even involved in Hollywood, except as paying viewers of the movies, calling some very talented actress “fat,” because she wears a size four, while all the other leading ladies are size 0 or below.

          Now, this is just anecdata, but I have noticed that the majority of the people using “she’s fat” as a go-to put-down for beautiful women are, in fact, non-feminist men. Yes, there are some women who go there, too, usually thin women who work reaaaaaalllllly hard to stay that way, and are fighting tooth and nail to maintain their privilege, and can’t abide to see someone larger than them (in any degree) getting something they don’t get, themselves, such as Olympic acclaim or beauty queendoms. But in my experience, it is mostly non-feminist men, who want to keep women in their place, and do so by whatever put-downs they can think of, and in our culture, fat is considered one of the best put-downs.

          I swear, half the time, calling someone fat is purely political.


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