Last week, I noted the British would-be beauty queen's desire to break the mold. She is plus-sized. She is young and most everyone thought she was beautiful. Should she be in the competition? I mean... What are beauty pageants about anyway? In this politically correct world, solving humanitarian crises and being talented are weighted heavier, than, er, weight. Right. In the real world, it's her bikini and her dress and her face. It's a beauty pageant.
A friend of mine noted that beauty pageants are about achieving an ideal. And it seems that these days, it's politically incorrect to say you prefer fit and thin people, but when it comes down to brass tacks, people still feel free to secretly condemn fat people.
I know. I know. I'm talking about two different things. On the one hand, I find it ridiculous that the physical ideal is being defined down when it comes to something that is purely aesthetic. On the other hand, it seems that fat people are the last bastion of hate. Consider this research:
Puhl, who has been studying weight discrimination for nine years, said our culture has made it clear that it's wrong to discriminate against someone because of race, color, creed, gender, age and so forth, but that it's OK to show someone the door because he or she is fat.
"We send a message to citizens in our culture that this is something that is tolerated," she said. "We live in a culture where we obviously place a premium on fitness, and fitness has come to symbolize very important values in our culture, like hard work and discipline and ambition. Unfortunately, if a person is not thin, or is overweight or obese, then they must lack self-discipline, have poor willpower, etc., and as a result they get blamed and stigmatized."
Women in particular are harassed and weight is often the way a woman is disparaged. For example, blogger Violet Blue, a woman who blogs about sex says this:
I just write and talk about sex. But every woman on the Internet gets called slutty and ugly and fat (to put it lightly) no matter what; all we have to be is female. In dinner conversation, my friend Lori reminded me of the Oscar Wilde quote, "Give a man a mask, and he'll tell you the truth." I restated it for the Internet, replying, "Give a man a mask, and he'll slit your throat." The application here is, "Give a man (or a woman) an anonymous account, and he'll eviscerate your self-esteem."And that is most definitely true. Go onto any blog and you don't see a man disparaged for his weight or face. It just doesn't happen. Rarely, a man's sex life or private parts are brought into the issue. Women, well, they just get it. They get reduced to the physical and sexual.
The problem is, with so many women I talk to, the trolling is effective. The number of times I've talked down a crying girlfriend after she's been trolled in her comments about being fat, ugly, skanky, slutty or stupid is higher than I can count (no matter what she writes about). Trolls watch too much mainstream porn and TV, and believe stereotypes are real; they slap us with it and then we believe it, too. We compare ourselves to overly thin models, actresses, and porn stars, and it messes with our self-image and our ability to express ourselves sexually, and especially to enjoy sex.
Is the blogosphere representative of society as a whole? To a certain extent. Women are harshly judged by their looks and their bodies. People are judged as lacking in character if they pack on the pounds. They are considered stupid. They are the butt of jokes.
In addition, the ideal seems pin-thin Hollywood girls. No one can measure up. And yet, there's a backlash against this trend, thus the chubby British girl going for the beauty pageant.
I think there are two things going on. First, I think the ideal needs to be thin and healthy but not anorexic. So the British girl should either lose some weight and get fit or get out of the running. It seems ridiculous to have a beauty pageant not be abut beauty. Second, the bias against fat people should be expunged from society but I don't expect it to be. People are visual. People view fat as controllable, and a reflection of a person's character.
As long as people have eyes, people will judge visually. There will be prejudice. However, the standards or ideal shouldn't be changed to make us feel better. There's enough political correctness these days. We don't need to go down this road with beauty queens. Beauty queens need to be, well, ideally beautiful.