July 28th, 2009

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More To Love--or Just More Fat Hate?

I cringed when I saw the promos of the new Fox (where else) show More To Love. Following the usual Bachelor format, large women compete for the attention of a self-admitted Fat Admirer. I couldn't bear to watch, but fortunately another Fat Acceptance Activist did and published a review: Really Big Love, by Marianne Kirby.

Excerpt:


More to Love, at least so far, doesn’t show big women in the pursuit of being small—a definite step forward.

But the show also falls into the same old fatty-hating, fatty-baiting traps that belittle the Fat Acceptance movement. The women joke about Spanx, a girdle-like product that’s supposed to smooth you out and make you look slimmer. One girl, who jumped into the pool in a bid for attention, worries that she looks like a whale.

It’s a one-two punch of acceptance followed by a knockout blow of shame.

Luke manipulates a woman into kissing him by playing on her fear of being cut the first night, playing on her body insecurities. She kisses him again.

More to Love is a confounding welter of self-confidence and self-loathing. I like these women, the interesting ones, and while Luke is a bit too much of a frat boy for my tastes, I applaud his lack of shame—he likes big women and he’s unapologetic about it. That shouldn’t deserve the acclaim it gets him, and it shouldn’t deserve the points it scores him with these women, who seem convinced this is their only chance to find love.

Ultimately, I think that’s what made me the most upset about More to Love—the show’s depressing portrait of these young women, already afraid they will die alone and unloved, unworthy of companionship. I’m not mad at them, though I want to send each and every one of them a copy of my book, a useful guide to getting over self-loathing. I am mad at every man and every woman who has taught them this kind of fear. I am mad at every jerk who wants these women to loathe themselves.

But there is a glimmer of hope. More to Love shows us beautiful fat women, refusing to apologize for who they are. That alone is positive. And I’m trying to hold on to that.
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Thorpe: A Story of Innocence and Terror

My review at Amazon.

I first found Thorpe on my mother's bookshelf when I was a child, and read it many times as I was growing up. Thorpe is the main character, a little girl who can't understand some of the adult attitudes about race that are all around her in her Southern town. She can't make sense of why she isn't supposed to openly refer to her black friends, children of the woman who does their laundry. Her Northern father gets into trouble because he won't take the oath of supremacy and join in rides with the local racists to intimidate black people. He loses his teaching job during the Great Depression and the family is plunged into poverty, much to the frustration of Thorpe's mother.

Through all of this Thorpe stubbornly remains true to herself and refuses to see things the way she's told she should. The characters are all vivid and believable and the plot is solid. I won't spoil the ending but it's well worth the journey. The serious subject matter is lightened by humor. I can't understand why this story didn't gain the fame that To Kill A Mockingbird received because it is every bit as good. As far as I'm concerned, Thorpe is an undiscovered classic. It ought to be re-printed. If you can't pick up a used copy, you may find it in the library.