My Body, My Needs and Societal Responsibilities: Responding to Fat Acceptance and HAES Critiques

Woah, holy sudden offline disappearance, Batman! If you watch my Twitter, you know that I recently started law school and I have found myself bereft of time and energy as I get used to being in university again as a total novice in my new field. I have started several posts in the past couple weeks, but I haven’t been able to pull my thoughts together enough to finish any of them. Now that things are starting to settle, I want to return to blogging, so I apologise for any post that seems like it is a couple weeks past its freshest relevance. However, I still think I have a few important points to make!

To start, I’d like to address the recent(ish) and continuing brouhaha over fat acceptance in the feminist blogosphere (see this Feministe post and the mountain of responses it has received both on the blog and off, or anything written by Tasha Fierce on Bitch lately).  Admittedly, feminism has not entirely accepted fat liberation ideals. This isn’t particularly shocking as feminism has not accepted a lot of ideas in the areas of race, sexuality, disability, gender and even feminism itself. This is the joy of having a large, supposedly all-encompassing group of people who are allegedly fighting for the same thing; the definition of the same thing changes depending on who one is talking to.

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One Step Forward, Too Many Back

TRIGGER WARNING: Images of trafficked/kidnapped women experiencing emotional turmoil (second part of the post)

  1. I. The Good: Jacob, the Canadian clothing company, decides to stop retouching their fashion photography

Jacob, a Canadian based fashion retailer, announced this month that it will no longer be digitally altering the bodies of its fashion models in all of their promotional material for the upcoming fall season. To see a popular retailer (in Canada, at least) decide to implement such a controversial change is rather heartening. Admittedly, the company’s choice was made easier thanks to the recent moves towards some body acceptance being made by the magazine industry, as well as increasing demands for realism of body sizes from consumers. Regardless of their motivations, if Jacob adheres to its promises, this is a positive change in the fashion community as long as the company does not turn to using ever thinner models to achieve what Photoshop once did for them.

Is this move to less photo manipulation perfect? Certainly not. The company is still going retouch colours and skin textures, including the erasure of scars and tattoos. The idea that such common and/or natural traits are seen as making a photo imperfect rather than simply reflecting real individuals wearing the company’s clothing is rather disconcerting. Furthermore, the clothing company itself certainly does not support a particularly wide range of body sizes. The last time I stepped into the store, I could not fit anything other than tee-shirts and I am only a size fourteen. On the other hand, there are times when I take what I can get and I look forward to seeing Jacob’s fall campaign to see how well they have implemented their promises.

  1. II. The Terrible Beyond Comprehension: Suitcase Stickers and “Joking” about Abducted Women (Trigger warning begins here)

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Judges, Women, Sex and Responsibility

EXTRA EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! FEMALE JUDGE LIKES KINKY SEX, DOCUMENTS IT AND HAS TO STEP DOWN BECAUSE SHE CAN NO LONGER MAKE JUDICIAL DECISIONS!

This week, one of the major Canadian news headlines was that a Manitoba judge, Lori Douglas, was embroiled in a sex scandal. According to the published stories, she engaged in “kinky” sex acts and had photos documenting this. Her husband, Jack King, then posted these photos online. This information came out when a client of King’s, Alexander Chapman, filed a complaint against both the spouses alleging that King had sexually harassed him when Chapman had engaged the husband as legal counsel. According to CBC.ca, Douglas did not know that her husband had shown these photos to anyone, or that he had posted them online.

Reactions to this story have been swift and mostly negative. While many journalists and commentators have expressed sympathy towards Douglas and the fact that she is facing such difficulties because of the thoughtlessness of her husband, most are also blaming her for even engaging in such activities at all. Her decision to even allow nude photos to be taken of herself has been seen as foolish and representative of an immature mind. In fact, according to Sébastien Grammond, Dean of Civil Law at the University of Ottawa, “if pictures of you naked end up on an internet site, it’s quite difficult to say you have the credibility to be a judge” (Quote taken from the above cited CBC article).

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