Who defines you?

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Posted by HSG on March 14, 2005 at 02:11:58:

In Reply to: Shaping society posted by Melanie W. on March 14, 2005 at 00:39:13:

The points are so important, that they bear repeating.

Consider this scenario:

The guilty party goes on the offensive, accusing its critics of wrong-doing, to deflect attention away from its own misdeeds.

Sound familiar?

It should. We see practice this time and again in the political sphere. It is a clever stratagem, and the fact that the weight-control conglomerates have resorted to this tactic should surprise no one.

In the late 1990s, a number of studies emerged (including one from the British Medical Authority) revealing just how much damage the cult of thinness was doing to the self-esteem of young women in the Western world. As a result, the tide began to turn against the diet industry.

But then, in a desperate bid to shore up its position, that industry countered by manufacturing an epidemic of weight hysteria, using trumped-up statistics (which have since been discredited) and a non-stop publicity offensive.

And that's where we are today. The body-haters are doing more damage than ever--except now, they are claiming to do so in the public good.

The only astonishing thing is that so few people have managed to see through their ploy, even in this supposedly media-savvy age . . .

The forces of body-love must engage in this war of words and ideas, and win it, at all costs.

* * *

The other point also bears further consideration.

Who defines you?

Who defines the popular notion of full-figured women in society?

Up until now, the identity of plus-size women in popular culture has been defined by the very individuals and corporations whose primary goal is to make those women dislike themselves.

In order to thrive, the weight-loss industry must, by its very nature, oppose anything that enables curvaceous women to relish their natural proportions.

Therefore, that industry has devoted the sum total of its resources to controlling how full-figured women are presented in "mainstream" culture, and specifically, to ensuring that this presentation remains as negative as possible.

For many decades, keeping plus-size goddesses out of the limelight--keeping them invisible--was enough. "Normality" was defined within unnaturally thin parameters, because no other alternatives were offered.

But now, in an escalation of their attacks, the weight-loss industries are sponsoring presentations of full-figured women that are designed to ridicule and humiliate them, to define them in the popular consciousness in the most negative manner possible.

This negative definition has become so pervasive--and persuasive--that it even affects the thinking of individuals who work within the plus-size fashion industry. Those individuals end up believing in nonsensical notions such as "plus-size women don't want to see themselves represented in advertising," or "our customers surely must be unsatisfied with their current shape."

(The latter leads to the obscenity of seeing diet ads in plus-size publications.)

Lies built upon lies--but, in the absence of truth, who can be surprised that these fabrications have become . . . definitive?

And anyone who laments the current depiction of full-figured women in the mass media should ask themselves this very important question:

Who has tried to define them in any other way?

What is needed now--finally, and at last--is an alternative definition of plus-size women, a definition that is truthful, and beautiful, and will capture the imagination of society.

And this definition must come from individuals and organizations whose greatest goal (on grounds of principle, practical necessity, or both) is to encourage full-figured women to love themselves just as they are, and to recognize the beauty that they inherently possess.

To paraphrase a previous statement, you must do the defining . . . or someone else will.

Barbara Brickner--the true definition of the plus-size goddess--radiant in red, on the Catherines cover:

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