Fatness, Fat Suits and Black Entertainment

Movie poster of Tyler Perry in a fatsuit as "Madea".

FATNESS, FAT SUITS AND BLACK ENTERTAINMENT
Let’s Talk Fat Suits!

Cut by: Davita Cuttita

To make a long story short, Davita doesn’t like being told what to do but loves suggestions and constructive criticism. She loves it so much so, that in the past she’s addressed the concerns of commenters by writing posts discussing issues they may be struggling with/have mentioned in passing. Since the last outcome was so good, it’s high-time for a repetition, no?

Today, as per request, I am going to talk about fat suits, the Black people who wear them and discuss some items in a Coloured context. I want to be fair to my fat readers of Colour now and call shenanigans on the at least one person who isn’t so nice about their existence (White readers, pay attention! You’re included too!).

I know that a lot of Fat People find the fat suit to be offensive. A comment I received said that some fat people liken it unto “Blackface”. I know that sometimes, race vs fat comparisons aren’t ill-intentioned and are sometimes used to help other POC understand fat circumstances so I don’t get offended and try to explain. This was just one of those comments.

In response, I have to say I disagree as I wish to be sensitive to my fat and Black readers as well as to other POC by, once again; refusing to compare race and fatness. Let me create a 100% made-up-by-me example to help illustrate the point: What would a fat Black person find worse? Someone throwing a brick through their window labelled “Fatty! Lose some weight, tank ass!” or “Big-lipped Nigger! Go back to Africa!”

DON’T ANSWER THAT QUESTION.

Nor should you (have to). It is difficult and stressful. It’s a tight, uncomfortable spot in question or even in statement form. I believe you have enough shit to deal with already and by making you “weigh” which is more devastating is kinda…not very considerate and a little insensitive. And just to be fair, as a thin person of Colour, I wouldn’t ask you any “race vs fat” type questions either. You don’t have to worry about those things here, OK? Cool.

In regards to the fat suit, a lot of entertainers use it as a way to garner laughs like Weird Al Yankovic and Eddie Murphy amongst others.

OK now if you thought Tyler Perry’s name was going to be on that list, he isn’t and I’ll explain why further into this post.

Let’s start with Murphy’s portrayals:

In the 1996 film The Nutty Professor, Eddie Murphy stars as Sherman Klump, a brilliant scientist/University professor who (according to the film) weighs approximately 400 pounds. He has low self-confidence, is treated like shit by his employer, laughed at by his students and it’s pretty established by the movie’s plot that the whole reason he’s a loser is because he’s fat. (Ho-hum, the bullshit-o-metre just broke.) Anyway, spoilers ahead in blue:

Sherman falls madly in love with his new co-worker, petite and pretty Carla (Jada Pinkett Smith) who is the only person other than his family to treat him like an actual person. Unbeknownst to many, Sherman has made a break-through creating a “miracle formula” for instant weight-loss that he tests on himself. It works instantly, creating a svelte Sherman in a matter of seconds and he creates a different persona with more confidence and sex-appeal. Eventually, this new persona “splits” apart from Sherman’s conscious and becomes an entity of its own that is ego-maniacal, rude and pig-headed alienates Carla from Sherman. In the end, Sherman does battle with himself and decides to stay his fat self and strut, the characters all grow a little, fat people in the audience are either satisfied slightly or have died a little on the inside from watching an over exaggeration of almost every fat stereotype known to man played out for laughs and nothing more.

For my non-fat homies out there who may not notice the insults, lemme point some out for ya:
• His ass is too big to fit into chairs
• His weight makes him clumsy and sloppy (knocks things over with his belly, etc)
• He eats tons of fatty food to drown out his sorrows (no, not all fat people do this and for the people who do of every size; chances are they may be suffering from a compulsive eating disorder and if not—what’s wrong with eating food as a pick me up?)
• He has NO SELF CONFIDENCE WHATSOEVER

This isn’t the first time Murphy has done this either. When I saw the movie poster and trailers for Norbit all I could think was “Dear Jesus, no!”. I’m not even gonna fully explain the plot. It’s just about a skinny, Black guy, married to a loud, Black fat chick. He is actually in love with a super-skinny Black chick and trying to work up the confidence to get away from the fat one to her.

In a nutshell:

Fat Black lady=loud, ugly, aggressive & Skinny Black Lady= pretty, sweet, bubbly.

I’ll just put up this picture of his character Rasputia, and if you click it you’ll be re-directed to the wiki article:

Eddie Murphy in a fatsuit as "Rasputia" in the film "Norbit"

Watching this movie with my Mom at home (my family found it hilarious while I just complained the ENTIRE time about EVERYTHING) and watching that character run around screaming and yelling I was like “Fuck, that’s not even a fucking human being. He’s playing a monster.” I wonder how many people walked outta the theatre without even giving that sentence a second thought….

It was just too much. I couldn’t sit through it, I don’t even remember what I did I just went someplace (the basement?) and came back near the end…

A fucking monster, ya’ll.

If you replaced Rasputia with Godzilla, it would’ve been the same damn movie; I swear.

This character just ran around screaming, yelling, being annoying and breaking things with her weight the entire time (like Godzilla). I wanted to kill her. Not because she was fat but because she just didn’t shut the fuck up with the screaming, over-the-top ign’ant hoodrat attitude (which DOES exist, but how comes it’s always the fat sistas?) and the “Don’t blame God if you’re skinny and I’m big and beautiful!” line.

Like…do people run that shit anymore? It’s so passé.

I like Eddie Murphy. He can do better. But he doesn’t.

What does this say about fat people? Also, what does this say about fat Black women? Or even with Klump, fat Black men?

It says they ain’t shit.

I’m not even fat and my heart sank writing that line, but as usual, I gotta call shit out when I see it and this is what it’s saying clear as day. OK, well Sherman’s circumstance had a bit of “be happy with who you are!” lip-service (although that doesn’t excuse the whole thing) but the latter was just a shitstorm of fatphobia. I can’t even talk about it anymore, next paragraph!!

As you can see, these characters portrayed by Murphy in a fat suit have little if nothing positive to say. It’s just “Oh, they’re fat, loud, annoying losers! Let’s laugh!”

Dehumanizing, stereotyping, garbage.

Mr. Perry, however does not do this.

Looking at the character of Madea (a name derived from the Southern term “Madear”, a short-form for “Mother Dear”) we see something completely different. The fatness is not overwhelmingly excessive so people point all like “WHAT’S THAT!?!?” and laugh or treat it like a side-show abnormality, it is reflective of her years and womanhood: she is 73 years old and has had (and adopted) children. In Perry’s films, we’re not given gratuitous close-up, “headless fatty”-esque camera shots of Madea trying to squeeze her ass into a chair, “waddling” around, or breaking shit with her weight. Her weight is never used as something for people to laugh at and watching films such as Madea’s Family Reunion we see other Black females in her age group with similar if not slightly larger (or smaller) figures. Never during these films is her fatness or the fatness of others used to garner jokes and Madea embodies none of the stereotypes so prevalent in Murphy’s portrayals.

She is not some unconfident loser or screaming fool, Madea acts as a manifestation of the others characters’ consciences and a guiding voice of reason. We laugh because Madea encourages women not to take (further) physical abuse from their husbands by “heating up a pan of grits and throwing it on him”. We laugh because if someone tries to harm her family, she pulls a gun out of her purse and starts yelling so much gangsta lines that 50 would piss himself. We laugh because when the law fails her loved one in a divorce in which she should’ve rightfully received half, Madea goes over there with a chain saw and begins sawing the furniture into equal parts.

Another very interesting component is that Madea (in my opinion) is a destroying a very hurtful stereotype to Blacks: the stereotype of “the Mammy”.

Still enjoy Aunt Jemima products?

Still enjoy Aunt Jemima products?

On the website of the Jim Crowe museum, in a brief essay Dr. David Pilgram of Ferris State University describes that stereotype as such:

“…the mammy caricature, and, like all caricatures, it contained a little truth surrounded by a larger lie. The caricature portrayed an obese, coarse, maternal figure. She had great love for her white “family,” but often treated her own family with disdain. Although she had children, sometimes many, she was completely desexualized. She “belonged” to the white family, though it was rarely stated… The mammy caricature was deliberately constructed to suggest ugliness. Mammy was portrayed as dark-skinned, often pitch black, in a society that regarded black skin as ugly, tainted. She was obese, sometimes morbidly overweight. Moreover, she was often portrayed as old, or at least middle-aged. The attempt was to desexualize mammy. The implicit assumption was this: No reasonable white man would choose a fat, elderly black woman instead of the idealized white woman. The mammy caricature implied that black women were only fit to be domestic workers….”

Perry took the Mammy and replaced her with something else: a human being (Madea is actually based off of his mother and aunt). Mammy is no longer a complacent, self-hating, desexualized (Madea talks sex quite a bit!) human being. She is armed not only with physical protection of her family (the gun) from harm but she is also armed with wisdom, patience and a moral compass. She wants her family, especially her daughters; to become educated, be confidence and believe in themselves, stand-up for themselves and not take abuse from anybody. Her loyalty lies with all and any who need her. She is a human being with goals, good-intentions, wants and feelings.

Through the character of Madea, there is no more Mammy. The stereotype is laid to waste through Perry’s ingenenious deconstruction of giving Mammy her humanity and rights. He destroyed Mammy and left a Black woman in her place.

A fat, Black woman who is confident, wise, funny and doesn’t take shit from nobody. Her fatness is not for jokes—she’s fat because, hey; aging and childbirth does that to some women.

Some may argue that Perry should’ve gotten an actual fat Black actress to play the role but I think a man taking the Mammy caricature and breaking it down before your eyes with a wry old-lady voice in Grandma clothing kind of serves to help you realize how ridiculous the concept of the Mammy was to begin with.

Plus I think Perry just really loves his Mom and Aunt and didn’t think anyone else could capture their essence as respectfully as he did (Margaret Cho also uses this comedic device when she plays her own Mom sometimes during comic acts).

I think with certain circumstances, you can intelligently and responsibly handle certain issues with respect to the people of that group and expose a greater truth.

You don’t compare struggles; you just make the lies more visible then take the truth and run with it.

We see the stereotype of the Black “nigger” brute super-imposed onto White neo-Nazi Deryl Vinyard (Edward Norton) in the brilliant film American History X, deconstructed, criticized and used to expose the horrors of neo-Nazism and racist dogma (I might upload my essay covering this at a Iater date).

I saw Robert Downey Jr. as a White-turned-Black man conversing in a gruff voice about “his people’s struggles”, with an actual Black man who constantly gets offended and “calls him out” on his “argument borrowing” (there it is again people!) in Tropic Thunder and I still can’t stop laughing.

I’ll probably write about it when I do, but that’s gonna take a while!

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~ by davitacuttita on August 19, 2008.

16 Responses to “Fatness, Fat Suits and Black Entertainment”

  1. i never thought of it that way before, but probably tyler perry is an exception to the other bullshit put out. i saw norbit on the movie network a while back and honestly it made me want to cry. it just seems to me that hollywood must really hate black women if these projects keep getting green-lighted. i love comedy about race AND racism and i think it has the potential to heal – but that fat suit shit has to stop.

  2. Hey, Becky

    Glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, Norbit is just…awful. Wikipedia kinda covers the controversy around it’s release.
    I also agree with you on the point you make about Hollywood. At the end of the day though, the general public does share some responsibility cuz…who the fuck keeps unquestionably going to watch this shit anyway, y’know?

  3. okay, fat white person here who’s seen Weird Al perform in the fat suit about 30 times (so far). “Fat” is a parody, and so it takes a lot of its significance from the original it’s parodying. And there is nothing funnier than seeing Al reach all the way down around his temporary belly to approximately knee level to grab his “fat self” crotch and have lights and sound effects go off. He’s not really making fun either of fat people or of Michael Jackson’s music (his band of excellent musicians plays it straight, with conviction and skill) but of the sex object/gangster posturing in the video, which, being either fake or creepy or both, is a fair target for a lampoon.

  4. Hi OE,

    I didn’t mentioned Weird Al as someone who was using “fat” as an insult but the body suit was pretty funny because it looked so…fake and to me, it kinda made fun of the concept of a fatsuit as “credible fatness” (i.e. how some people wear a fatsuit and thinked they’ve really “lived the experience”). That’s why I only mentioned him his name in passing and kinda went to town on Murphy for being a jackass.

    To surmize, I pretty much agree with you.

    I like that video too, haha.

  5. I like Tyler Perry. I also like “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in which the protagonist has African features and is beautiful (and the “other woman” has anglo features and is not so). Actually, all the values in that movie are a refreshing change for Hollywood. And I liked reading your “mammy” analysis. On the other hand, I still think a fat, black woman actress could have found the pathos, rage, humanity, strength, love and other dimensions of Madea, and I wish he’d opened that opportunity.

  6. Hey Debra,

    Thanks for dropping by again. I was a little worried about the clarity of my mammy analysis so I’m glad you found it helpful and informative.

    There exist quite a number of people (Black women in particular) in the Coloured community who share your opinion that Perry could’ve gotten a fat, Black actress to do justice to the role of Madea. I sympathize with that point but at the same time, (as I mentioned in the post) I believe Perry’s performance is a bit of an “inside joke” at how ridiculous the concept of the Mammy was to begin with.

    Since you are so eager to learn about Coloured issues and reach out, I highly recommmend you visit Racialicious (in our blogroll) if you have not done so already. It encompasses a wide variety of experiences and concerns from Blacks, Asians, Indians, Mixed persons, Muslims, Natives–you name it; from all over the globe and they update daily. I believe they were also featured on CNN this week!

  7. Oh, and since I’m the one who used the “blackface” analogy to describe fat suits, please let me provide some explanation. I do think that people in the FA movement (the ones who do this) need to stop saying that “fat is the last acceptable prejudice.” That’s ridiculous. And everyone there needs to be careful and respectful if they draw the race hate/fat hate connection. Too often it’s only presented in a knee-jerk way. But I think that the connection can be drawn and even should be drawn when it is appropriate. Just as it is wrong for the media to ignore black actors for appropriate roles and omit them from the picture that portrays society (racism by omission as opposed to racism by commission), it can be argued that is wrong to omit the black struggle from any discussion of civil rights and social expectations for groups arbitrarily cast out of the mainstream. When analogies fit, we should discuss them, and I think that in many instances (such as Norbit, but not Madea) blackface and fat suits can be seen as fitting analogies:

    They employ “socially acceptable” people to define the class/group from society being represented.
    They are used to make fun of the party portrayed.
    They marginalize the social value and depth of the party portrayed.
    If the party portrayed were to be offered the role, instead of the “stand in” wearing make-up or costuming, then the humor would disappear. It would suddenly make everyone uncomfortable to see an actual person act that way. The stereotype would be revealed.

    When I seek to employ this analogy carefully (NOT pulling Tyler Perry into Eddie Murphy’s sphere), I would hope to show respect for the struggle of black people to find their voices and say “NO! That’s not acceptable” and bring the practice to an end. I would hope that the analogy would be used to help fat people find their voices too, not to pull down or diminish the work of black people, and certainly NOT to return to the old days when blackface was acceptable. Fat people would be well advised to study history and see what had to happen to end the use of blackface. I’m sure it didn’t suddenly spring to Samuel Goldwyn’s mind that “hey, ya know, that’s just wrong.” Something happened. We can and should learn from it, not ignore it or avoid it for fear of offending. It’s probably a good topic for a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.

  8. Hi Debra,

    I can see where you’re coming from and I know you have good intentions but to compare fat suits and blackface it’s simply unfair. Once again, fatness and race are two completely different things. Plus, (with my example) I tried to illustrate that this may be difficult and even hurtful *especially* for fat Black people who experience a very different type of stigma than fat White people.

    As I said before, if you want to reach out to POC of all shapes and sizes, you don’t need to compare anything. You really don’t. As you already know, I am not fat but I really do sympathize with those who are and try to help out any way I can. Nobody had to compare anything to convince me; they said “I’m suffering” and I said “That’s wrong, how can I help?”

    Give them the truth and nothing but the whole truth: fat people are not monsters and do not deserve to be treated like shit.

    Then run with it.

    Coloured people during the Civil Rights movement (and many movements before it) had nothing to use for comparaisons. They never had rights in North America, nor did their ancestors.
    They used their actions, words, research, education and treatment of others and one another as the tools to drive home the point that they were people too (as evidenced somewhat in J. Griffin’s “Black Like Me”).

    If you’re still interested as of to why argument borrowing/comparisons of any kind to race is offensive (you’ll notice Coloured people don’t even compare eachother’s struggles i.e Blacks do not compare slavery to the Holocaust) I’d highly recommend this brief but highly informative article as it goes into a lot of detail:

    http://www.racialicious.com/2008/08/11/may-i-be-offended-on-your-behalf/

    Feel free to comment again if you decide to give it a look.

  9. Haven’t visited the article yet, but before I do, I’d like to poiint out one thing you said about fat people:

    “Nobody had to compare anything to convince me; they said “I’m suffering” and I said “That’s wrong, how can I help?””

    I think that’s uncommon in our society. You say “I’m suffering” to your average Joe (or Jo) and you get, “Then put your sorry fat ass on a diet.”

  10. Hey Debra,

    Your comment made me laugh a little because it’s so true! Kindness is really uncommon these days; especially to people of size (I never fully understood the “people of size” phrase. Isn’t everyone a size of some sort? I kinda prefer to use fat. What do you think?). How sad.

    I will be posting an article later on today further calling shit out on thin privilege but in regards to fashion. I think it was one of the driving forces behind me realizing that there is a definite imbalance in how people of different sizes are treated. It was what made me start to get pissed.

    I hope you choose to give the aforementioned article a read; I think they do a better job explaining than I ever could. Cheers!

  11. “People of size” is a DIRECT steal from “people of color.” Everyone’s a color too (you would say colour — which reads much more sophisticated to those of us in the middle of the USA). I’m ecru most days and on most parts, beige in the deepest part of summer. Though my butt is always blinding white. (T.M.I.! T.M.I.! STOP.)

  12. Well, went and read the article you suggested. Actually, I don’t think she is the writer you are, and I think she sets the case back further. This, for instance:

    “In the end, I decided that I don’t have enough information to dissect Asian stereotypes in popular culture, and I certainly have no right to discuss how a Korean man’s acting choices affect his cultural community. I left the topic alone.”

    So the conversation didn’t end, IT NEVER GOT STARTED! Too bad for all concerned. Maybe she can’t talk about his cultural community, but EVERYONE has a right to talk about popular culture. Her explanation for her silence:

    “It’s just too easy to move from being aware to being offensively presumptuous.”

    Yes, and that’s a risk we must take or else we learn nothing. Nada. Zippperoo. Certainly you aren’t telling me that you are unchanged by your experience with BFB? You tippy-toed into “presumptuous,” then you learned something and edited and grew and we’re all gonna feel a lot better about what you, a thin woman of color, has to say to others who look like you regarding FA now that you’ve been challenged. Thank God you took a risk and started the conversation. Now you will carry the flag more competently to people we could never reach.

    Speaking as a white woman, I can tell you that your biggest antagonists are the racists who are silent to your face. “Jennifer Jobholder” may be quietly polite, and giving all appearances of “listening” right before you exit and she throws your resume and letters of reference into the trash can. Then she tells me a racist joke over cocktails. Trust me, you really do want me responding on your behalf. You’ll be happier with my response if I have had a risky conversation with you and can go a little deeper than “Oooh, Jenny, that sounds racist to me, but I wouldn’t presume to explain why.”

    Your racialicious friend went on to talk about her “jaw-clenching” moments with kind-hearted people who study other cultures. Hmmm. I don’t presume to understand what it is to “be” hispanic, but I am so grateful for my Ibero-American Civilizations minor. It helped me see a lot of things differently. I think it may be presumptuous of your friend to clench her jaw on behalf of other cultures. My experience is that hispanic people treasure me. They appreciate the little Spanish speaking ability I have retained. Instead of “don’t presume you know anything” (and I don’t presume too much — it WAS only an undergraduate minor) they are joyful when they learn of my interest, and then they try to engage me in conversation and add to my knowledge. I had one friend cry out in disgust that most American children cannot locate Peru on a world map. He would be delighted if such a child wanted to talk with him, even if the conversation began on a “presumptuous” note. How can you disabuse people of their stereotypes if they don’t reveal them?

  13. Hey Debra, glad you read the post.

    Tami is not a friend of mine, I am merely one of thousands of readers on racialicious as it is one of the largest circles by people of colour. I thought it would be a good article to present.

    I think you’ve misunderstood somewhat in regards to the “In the end, I decided that I don’t have enough information to dissect Asian stereotypes in popular culture…” line. Tami was saying that since she does not know enough about Asian culture and their perceptions of the actor in question, she chose to remain silent on the topic and allow Asian people the oppurtunity to dissect it themselves (as she is Black). She also has an Asian co-writer on the site so perhaps she thought it more appropriate to allow her the oppurtunity to discuss the topic first. I do not believe she was being presumptuous, I think she was being the opposite. Instead of jumping to conclusions, she decided to leave matters in the hands of that group and to learn from what they have to say *before* anything else. I think that is being respectful above all else. Our good friend Restructure! eloquently captured Tami’s meaning as well:

    “…In May I Be Offended on Your Behalf? Tami of What Tami Said, who is black, recalls some negative experiences with non-black people speaking about black experience. Because of this, she held herself back from writing a post about racism against Asian Americans. She wants allies and the mainstream to be sensitive and intolerant of race bias, but also she wants them to keep their privilege in check. She then questions this and asks if she (or anyone) has the right to be offended on someone else’s behalf.”

    Restructure!

    All I learned from BFB was to write more clearly. Nothing more, nothing less. I took a risk, yes; but so did the countless others who have spoken of it before me–before the internet–that racism exists in all factions and movements and continually metamorphs and must be eradicated. I am not unique nor special. Even after the edit, some comments were still venemous and overly presumptuous. Some people still viewed this concern as nothing but bullying (when it wasn’t even close). I did my best to comment and answer queries but only 2 people of all those commentators, acknowledged my presence there and commented to me directly, rather than speaking as if I wasn’t even there or dissenting into scapegoating tactics of their fellow BF bloggers. Almost no one asked me for clarification. Almost no one asked for anything except for my silence. What did you learn from that?

    Looking back on your commentary, I see very little questions when it comes to race, let alone Blackness. Therefore, I am at a loss: I’m not sure what you’re looking for as these comments get lengthier and lengthier but do not consist of much to learn but rather, what is already thought or learnt. I’m not sure if I have the answers you’re looking for…

    I, too, have taken courses on various cultures and their languages in an attempt to broaden my racial understanding and yes, even expose to myself my own hidden prejudices (which I’m sure many have but are unaware of). I don’t just expose others but put myself under a microscope because sometimes things are there that we do not know of. I do not know their experiences but now that I am aware of their history and their problems’ existence, I will join *their* rallies and do what they wish me to do and listen to their voices so I can aid them as they see fit; not as I see fit. I will not tell them what to do or what/whom they want speaking for them. I will only listen and learn and cry out against injustice whenever I see it.

    Speaking as a young woman of colour, I believe my biggest antagonist is racism and discrimination of all kinds. Racists and yes, even the non-racists who sit idly by and do nothing about the racists or even their own subconscious racism; who refuse to listen to people of colour but they think know us, think they know what we need and should be doing but plug their ears when we talk and don’t ask questions. I also believe our biggest antagonists are people who believe they understand who we are and what we’re going through while still refusing to confront or criticize themselves; who believe they can do no wrong and are somehow “above” what we are asking of them.

    I do not think you are capable of responding on my behalf. You do not know who I am. At this moment, you are reading my thoughts and beliefs but you do not truly know the person attached to them. I am more than just beliefs, skin colour and thoughts. Far more. I am more than capable of speaking for myself and resounding these beliefs in unison with all peoples. Only I can speak for myself just as only you can speak for yourself.

    You’ve read “Black Like Me”, I just finished it and will write a review shortly. It is the best book I’ve read in my entire life. John H. Griffin never proposed to speak on behalf of PoC, he spoke on behalf of his own experiences as a Black man which reflected the circumstances of PoC at that time. Mr. Griffin confronted the forces of his time by listening to the voices of Black people in the most thorough way possible and confronting his own hidden racism (which he admits to in the Epilogue). He was a righteous, courageous man who was not there to be their voice or to know the voice, but to be one unit of many that helped them to amplify their voices.

    Let freedom ring.

  14. “What did you learn from that?” The one and only question mark in your post. Actually, throughout this whole discussion you have insisted that others only ask and listen, while you speak. Period. If I am consigned only to asking questions or answering when I am asked, is my only response to be to your one and only question?

    If so, here goes:

    I didn’t hear anyone calling for your silence. I was one of the most vociferous regarding the original post — the presumption that fat people can be “less fat,” that fat is a “medical condition.” You recall, I’m sure. I didn’t want you silent. I wanted you educated, in much the same way you wanted that for me. I’m sorry that you do not see evidence of my growth. I thought I had seen growth in you. But apparently I was mistaken. You say you only learned to be more clear. If that is the case, if you still believe that fat people can be “less fat” and that fat is a “medical condition,” you actually only learned to hide your fat prejudices better.

    And if my BFB friends didn’t seem to ask for clarification, you provided it anyway in your rewrite, and your master letter to Paul, and your mini responses throughout the thread. Perhaps they assumed that they had communicated the need for clarity without actually using a question mark? (You needn’t answer. We’re both growing weary.) Yeah, there were some frothy people, but I think if you kept a copy of your original post and read with an open mind, you’d see that you got pretty frothy too. Your style and theirs (and mine for that matter) collided. But you kept the conversation open, and I appreciated that. And I still do.

    Please know, I do not think to speak for you, Davita, and I never have.

  15. That was the problem, Ms. Yarwood.

    Almost everyone assumed or presumed. I don’t care about people assuming things about my character and intellect: 20 years of racism has numbed me to this. But otherwise, I am grateful for the few who did ask for clarification. Who did not ignore me. Who sought out other PoC and had the courage to speak to them and ask them what they think and feel.

    As you can see, this entire blog is a giant question mark. We’re not the spokespeople of a certain group but hope what we say can spark some sort of constructive debate. If it was totalitarian, there wouldn’t be a comments option. I would not respond to comments, either.

    Just because you didn’t hear anyone calling for my silence, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t–they did, that’s why I said that. I’ve no reason to lie here. This is my space. I don’t believe anything about fat people other than they are people too and if they thought otherwise, I assume they’d stop coming here or blacklist me or just call for my silence. But they’re still here and I appreciate that.

    I don’t believe I am perfect. I make mistakes and what I said was a mistake; I realize, so I corrected it. As I said before, I’m not afraid to call shit on myself. I was frothy with racist people because I have a right to be. We need to be. This world downplays an “angry Black woman” as a terrible thing, something to be afraid of. Why am I not allowed to be angry? Why am I not supposed to foam at the mouth when appropriate? This was never about you, or me or the guy down the street—it’s about racism and it’s effects.

    As I said, I don’t have the answers you are looking for. I kept the conversation open because doing otherwise would’ve downplayed everything I stand for. All I did was deliver a message repeated in the Coloured Community. It wasn’t about me growing as a person or anything because it wasn’t a personal post; to or about anybody. I just wanted the Fat community aware of a problem discussed in PoC circles; I wanted the FA community to be “in” on it, rather than having it talked about away from their zones.

    I am going to follow Paul’s example now and know when to save a discussion for another day. Consequently, I have nothing more to say on this post or any others. I hope you can respect that.

  16. Debra, why don’t you get your own blog? You’ve written enough to start one. Seriously…. Seriously.

    This is our blog and we have our own opinions. Do not expect us to change our opinions, willy-nilly. We’re both flexible when it comes to learning new perspectives and gaining insight, but we both take everything with a grain of salt.

    This is our place to speak, so don’t expect to balk and decline when it comes to our personal opinions. That is the PDDP I want, and Davita and I talked about what we wanted for PDDP and we’re pretty happy the way it is.

    If PDDP is not always going to reflect your views and your ideas, it reflect our views, reactions and ideas of what we think. That is the intent of PDDP. I’m not sure what you’re expectations of this blog to be, but seriously… Seriously. You’re allowed to disagree but… It’s a bit much.

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