Ok, a bit off topic from a weight loss blog but I found this interesting enough to stay up late and write about it.
The internet brought me a interesting tidbit today. It was a scene from Louis CK’s show that aired this week “So Did the Fat Lady”. The episode takes on an often uncomfortable topic of weight, social class, gender norms an the like. A topic so loaded with abstract nuanced, confusing and often controversial feelings, it’s often ‘better left alone’ especially on television. The scene everyone’ talking about is towards the end when a woman, played by Sarah Baker trying to get with Louis calls him out on his the double standard that lets him lament his shortcoming in love as smart comedy while a mirror reflection of his situation in a woman is stigmatized and considered too taboo to talk about. Mainly how much it sucks to be a fat woman and looking for love. For the record I am a fat girl who relates to Sarah Baker’s statement that it suck to date when you’re a fat girl in your thirties (I’m getting there). That doesn’t give me credentials but so I have something to on my mind and I’ll say it here.
The blogosphere had plenty to say: that she was whiny, she should have just told him to shove it and leave. In what I consider a knee jerk reaction I saw lots of comments about society’s double standards perpetuate by the media and how it’s important to ignore it all and love yourself. To me that’s not what this scene is illustrating. If Vogue, MTV, Playboy, television and photoshop didn’t exists we’d still have to deal with standards of beauty that are unattainable and impossible to ignore. Saying it’s the media’s fault is a scapegoat to avoid a very real conversation: that fat shaming is not just an external load laid upon us but because it’s so nuanced and indirect we can’t deal with it directly end up with a disappointment we deal with in silence. Sara Baker points it out when she says “It just sucks. It really really sucks. You have no idea. And the worst part is, I’m not even supposed to do this. Tell anyone how bad it sucks, because it’s too much for people.” She’s not saying that it sucks to BE fat, it sucks that she has to deal with being dismissed for her looks which make her feel invisible and when she brings it up she’s told things that are not honest to placate her which is just condescending and makes her mad, understandably so.
She talks about prickly topics like how unfair it is to have this double standard where men have the upper hand in social interactions. Hot men can flirt with fat girls because there are no consequences in the way people see them, average men don’t have that social capital and in their concern about being seen with someone fat would lower their status, so they prefer not to engage in any women other than ‘beautiful’ ones that will add to their stock. But they’ll sleep with fat girls, a superficial interaction that has virtually no social consequence. They’ll sleep with a fat girl but won’t date one. In other words: it’s ok for fat women to entertain men but it’s not ok for them to represent these men, to be their other half and a reflection of who they are. Unfair right?? Seems pretty messed up. It makes you angry. That’s what’s so great about this episode though and something Louis CK is really good at creating: awkward, brutally honest moments that take almost embarrassing bravery to get through. This episode wasn’t supposed to encapsulate the feelings of everyone it’s not an apology to fat women or a dialogue that’s supposed to wrap up everything we could feel about gender norms and social class in a neat package, it’s simply an honest confession that leaves the topic open for discussion; and that’s a good thing.
Why does this matter to me?
It’s fascinating to watch for one. Sarah Baker is brilliant in delivering this scene. I can also relate to what she’s saying and I love how honest she is. Hey dude, I like you, you don’t notice how awesome I am and we are really good together. So I’m going to call you out on your problem because you’re missing out on something great. She could have easily created a wall around her feelings, dismissed him and walked away with her pride. Instead she chose to be honest and exposed. That’s bravery, that’s confidence right there.
Part of the reason I have this blog is to stay true to the reason I’m trying to lose weight to begin with. I’m in this for myself and my future. But it’s easy to get swept up in the encouragements relating to the aesthetic of my boy. “You look great!” is encouraging and it comes from a good place but if I do it for looks it becomes too easy to be dependent on other people’s opinion to determine the value of my efforts; that’s superficial and no good. I have to stop and ask myself ‘Am I doing it for others or for myself?’
This episode showed me that the world will always have standards of beauty that are hard to get and even harder to ignore. The best way to counter them is to call them out on their shit in a honest way and not be afraid to be vulnerable in order to have the difficult conversations.