Yesterday I got to visit my friend Squirrel (frequent commenter over at Avontuur, but I don’t think she has a blog) in Rotterdam. I’ve written about it over there, so I won’t duplicate the story both places. I’d met her once before, when she was on a visit to LA, but we hadn’t managed to set up a date to meet here until now. It’s been a busy year for both of us and a rough one for her, but I’m so glad I got to see Squirrel again before we leave. I wish Ted had been able to come too.
The rest of this was originally a comment on someone else’s post, but it was over at Vox and I didn’t want to have to join just to comment there. It’s a more general rant, though; I support the idea that not only skinny bodies should be considered attractive, but Queen Latifah gets mentioned as the poster child for the fat acceptance movement all too often and it’s not entirely an accurate choice. I have a decent body image, and always have had; there are lumps I’d like to get rid of but I don’t go around saying I’m fat, because I’m not. I’m pretty happy with my body for what it can do, but I can see changes in it as I age, and I have some idea of what I’d look like if I did put on 40 pounds.
You know what though? I never would compare myself to Queen Latifah if I put on weight, and it’s not (or not only) a self-image thing. It’s because I really wouldn’t look like her no matter how good my self-image was. Here’s the thing: people talk about Queen Latifah as if she’s what every fat chick with a good attitude and good clothes can be, but she really is as blessed with as good genes as, say, Claudia Schiffer. We see fat but still pretty, whereas if we weren’t so blinded and conditioned to see “fat” as a filter for everything else, we’d see that “pretty” is entirely inaccurate as a description for Latifah.
I might be pretty if I were fat; I am now, on good days and in kind light. She’s not in the same universe with “pretty”. What we overlook about Latifah is that she has a stunningly beautiful face, luminous glowing skin and perfect proportions. If I had the same BMI she does, on the other hand, I would still have my own face (of course, I have that anyway!) and because of how I store weight, I would look less like an hourglass and more like a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy. With twins. I wouldn’t set off my clothing the way she does, whatever I wore.
Sorry, I know this is a little depressing. But if we can learn to see “fat” not as a synonym for “ugly” but just as an adjective, we’ll be noticing that there’s the same spectrum of beauty at any size. Still, at least it will help us not to hate ourselves for every normal change we see.