The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Carry That Weight. No pun intended.

Ah, Twitter. Both a boon and a bane. Great for organising social outings and sourcing hot shoes. Really, really bad at social justice.

It’s somewhat depressing to jump on Twitter after a nap, only to find people who should know better making fat jokes. In the guise of punning about music. I really wish this were an uncommon occurrence. Sadly, it really, really isn’t.

Oh! You’re so funny! Fat people like to eat lots! They’re obsessed with buffets and friands and ham. Great.

And of course, when a bunch of people called out the fatshaming, there was a chorus of whining of “but I just wanted to make puns about food!”. How nice for you. Then why did you have to include the hashtag about fat people? Why denigrate people because of how they look and their perceived relationship with food? Because you can, because you didn’t think, because fat people don’t have feelings you could possibly hurt.

Here’s the thing. If the Beatles were fat dudes? It’s very, very unlikely they would be famous enough for you to be making puns about them. Sure, random dude on Twitter, you can name four fat artists (Adele, Beth Ditto, Aretha, Fat Joe), so everything must be OK, and there’s no imperative in the music industry to be thin. Or something. Would the girls have screamed, so long and so loud, if they four nice-looking boys from Liverpool have been overweight.

I wonder if the people who wrote that hashtag over and over again took a moment to think about the people they might be hurting when they tweeted. The teenage singer who wants a career but was told she can’t because she’s too big. The boy who wanted to be on TV, but was fat. Any overweight person who had the temerity to think that despite their size they might be entitled to personhood. I can only speak for myself, but it felt like being punched in the stomach. I mean, I couldn’t feel it, on account of being so desperately addicted to curly fries, but still.

13 responses to “Carry That Weight. No pun intended.

  1. hungrymamanz November 12, 2012 at 8:25 am

    This- I was really hurt that people who are normally very careful to be inclusive and non-discriminatory and who can articulate quite clearly why Paul Henry is an arse for ragging on moustachioed women thought it was OK to perpetuate hurtful and inaccurate stereotypes about people who look like me.

    • tallulahspankhead November 12, 2012 at 8:34 am

      What annoyed me the most was that when they were called on it, a bunch of people thought it was OK to say “but I like/am/know fat people! My joke is _funny_ so, it’s OK”

      Your privilege, I can see it.

    • Hugh November 12, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Every time I’ve thought “This person gets it, I will never need to expect some kind of shitty remark from them” I’ve been disappointed.

      Every single time.

  2. dimsie November 12, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I made one pun when I first saw the hashtag (because I am a giant Beatle nerd, like, GIANT. In all senses) but I didn’t make any more after having a “you know, this hashtag is kind of shitty” moment. And I LOVE those pun hashtag pop-culture fests, so I would have been so all over it if it was #ifBeatlessongswereallaboutfood. Damn you Twitter, you ruined my nerdery!

  3. dimsie November 12, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Also! (Sorry, I am posting between bouts of childcare so doing multiple comments.) This whole thing has actually made me hugely interested in this “exceptions which prove the no fatties rule” thing in pop music. Because there are certain parameters between which you CAN be fat in pop. A band can have one fat member (Black Francis) or balance their fatty with a conventional hotty (Mama Cass vs Michelle Phillips) or be an African-American woman (because fatness means “soul” or some weird racist narrative like that) or a dude in hiphop who makes plays on words about his own size (Biggie, Fat Joe), or you can start out thin and get fat and then have your audience “forgive” you (Elvis) or not “forgive” you (Ann Wilson from Heart). When you think about it, it’s horribly prescriptive, but also really COMPLICATED.

    • tallulahspankhead November 12, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Yeah, I mean, obviously, there are fat people in music. It’s no different to, like every other industry. But for every Pavarotti, there must be hundreds of equally talented, but fat, kids who never made it.

      When I was thinking about this last night, the examples I could come up with were the same as you – The soulful black woman (ugh), the later Elvis, and the hip hop guys. There’s Adele, who might be a bit overweight, but is still pretty conventionally attractive (and still has to endure people constantly talking about her weight.) But in pop? In current pop? I couldn’t think of ANYONE. Except Beth Ditto, and she’s such an outlier – and not really pop.

      It’s different to other forms of entertainment. The weight can’t be exploited – fat jokes, self congratulatory ‘we have a fat person, crazy weight loss reality TV – so there’s no need to have fatties uglying up the industry. On the other hand, the talent is so specific, and the skillset not necessarily requiring thinness, that it’s hard to exclude fat people.

      I dunno. I’d like to believe that the music industry embraces fat people. Evidence suggests no. (And also, doesn’t forgive the unthinking hurtfulness of the hashtag.

      • dimsie November 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

        I was meaning pop as short for “popular music” which I consider basically all genres. But yeah, if you’re talking about pure pop, the genre, there’s no one. It’s such a narrow genre for both music AND looks. The amount of shit given to Kelly Clarkson (or Britney for appearing on an awards show in less than toned condition) proves that.

      • dimsie November 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

        The other thing you’re “allowed” to do is start out fat and then get thin (Missy Elliott, Jennifer Hudson, Carnie Wilson) but woe betide you if you get re-fattified, because then all bets are off (Carnie Wilson again). There is totally a thesis in this. Maybe I’ll write it in 20 years.

        • tallulahspankhead November 12, 2012 at 9:26 am

          Oh, true, there is nothing like the redemptive power of massive weight loss. Jennifer Hudson is a great example. American Idol, Oscar nomination, followed by weight-loss company endorsement.

          Actually, someone we’re (/I’m) forgetting is Queen Latifah. And Jill Scott. Who I guess fit the Aretha mould?

  4. Leena November 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I do find it a bit interesting how on popular-vote shows like American Idol and X-Factor, it’s often people who are not the super-toned usual pop music suspects who do well – Reuben Studdart, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Hicks, Susan Boyle, Karise Eden, etc. Almost as if the actual audience doesn’t give a shit what a musician looks like?

    (Ahem, not that I pay any more attention than I have to to those shows.)

  5. Tamara November 12, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I spotted this and definitely concur. It’s like people forget there are all kinds of people on Twitter, not just people exactly like them. I follow Queen of Thorns and appreciated her contribution too.

  6. James Butler (@j20r) November 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Yeah I feel a bit shit about my tweet now (slightly less so after Danielle’s admission), when of course it’s too late. I guess the urge towards glib cleverness is greater than the urge towards critical examination.

  7. Pingback: The 55th Down Under Feminists Carnival | the news with nipples

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