39 Comments

How is asking the question “Why are there no fat elves in Dungeons and Dragons?” offensive to feminists?

A long question left in comments, so I’m promoting it to the front of the blog.

I was referred to this site after discussing image issues on the role-playing game website, Giant In The Playground. At that site, I started a topics of discussion regarding body image in fantasy art and RPG books, particularly involving the game Dungeons and Dragons.

The thread in question can be found here:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=105473

One particular poster, whom I leave anonymous out of respect, said the following:

“Also, “heavy women are beautiful too!” is no less objectifying. That’s not the point! Women don’t exist to be attractive and sexual objects. It shouldn’t matter if they’re thin or fat or neither, ugly or pretty or neither, and there’s no real RPG art shouldn’t depict real people of both genders (and “conventions of the genre” are no excuse; I’m looking at you, superhero comics and superhero comics games). Holy hell, people.”

After responding to the effect that fantasizing is unavoidable, regardless of gender, he sent me a link to this blog, mainly for the reasons listed in the FAQ.

When asked by another poster “I’m sorry, how exactly is “heavy women are beautiful too” objectifying?” His response was thus:

“It’s “as objectifying as” “thin women are beautiful.”

It’s the idea that women’s attractiveness has any sort of inherent value or importance. Beauty as a value is a product of and a contributor to objectification. It doesn’t matter whether you say “thin women are beautiful” or “fat women are beautiful”, you’re still valuing them based on appearance.

By becoming aware that we are all taught to think like this – women and men both – and then realizing the idiocy of it, you can start to contribute, in a small way, to society being less objectifying.

And you cannot talk about people’s bodies without talking about people, directly or indirectly – especially in the context of western society, where the word “fat” automatically makes people think of qualities like “stupid”, “ugly”, “sick”, “greedy”, and so on.

Links again (because no, I am not here to educate, I am here to argue points):”

One of those links brought me here, and I’m hoping I could get some answers as to just what I’ve said that was offensive.

I have nothing against feminism (at least I don’t think I do), but I don’t know if I can avoid fantasies about them. Yes, I think heavy women are more attractive than thin women, but that doesn’t mean I judge women, or any other people for that matter, on appearance alone. I don’t allow my fantasies to get out of hand, or to hurt people. I just keep them to myself. Yes, I have sometimes roleplayed characters who conform to my fantasies, but that’s just fiction. It’s not real, and I’d be an idiot to think it was.

Can I truly be non-objective, even in my fantasies? Are my fantasies really that bad? How is asking the question “Why are there no fat elves in Dungeons and Dragons?” offensive to feminists?

Thank you for hearing me out.

I suspect that there’s more to the other person’s response than merely the question being asked. Just guessing because I haven’t had time to read the thread in question, but a slew of responses along the lines of “hell yeah fatties are sexy” would more likely be the culprit.

Can I truly be non-objective, even in my fantasies?

The problem is not so much that fantasies about particular phenotypes ever occur (women fantasise too), but that fantasies and objectifying are often the primary, indeed only, response to a woman entering a scene.

Women fantasising about men are swimming in a culture where every drama tells us about how men have complex reactions to events and their own personal goals that complicate interactions and that force compromises – objectification can only go so far in this cultural milieu. By contrast, men fantasising about women are swimming in a culture that shows women practically only coming to life when a man pays them some attention because he finds them physically attractive, and who either willingly abandon whatever time-filler pursuit they were involved in to support the man’s goals, or who object at first only to see the error of wanting a personal life – they become infatuated by his charismatic questing and then willingly abandon whatever they’ve been doing. Women reduced to puppets of narrative as a matter of course make objectification simple.

Feminists object to lazy writing and characterisation, and to fandom discussions thereof, that reinforce the cultural narrative that women are only there to reflect the objectives of men as an addition to the roster of trophies.

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39 comments on “How is asking the question “Why are there no fat elves in Dungeons and Dragons?” offensive to feminists?

  1. I think it’s unavoidable that we judge people by their appearances, but it’s good to be aware of it, so we can correct ourselves when we do.

    That last paragraph really captures the essence of the issue to me – what we need isn’t more lara crofts or fat barbies, it’s woman characters that are interesting and that feel human.

  2. “Yes, I think heavy women are more attractive than thin women, but that doesn’t mean I judge women, or any other people for that matter, on appearance alone.” -the poster

    “The problem is not so much that fantasies about particular phenotypes ever occur (women fantasise too), but that fantasies and objectifying are often the primary, indeed only, response to a woman entering a scene.” -tigtog

    So… I think everyone’s on the same page. Fantasizing about sexy people: No biggie. Judging real people by their appearances: Bad. The original poster and feminist theory seem to be in accordance on this point.

    “Feminists object to lazy writing and characterisation, and to fandom discussions thereof, that reinforce the cultural narrative that women are only there to reflect the objectives of men as an addition to the roster of trophies.”
    -tigtog

    Ah, well here’s the thing about lazy characterization in RPGs: it’s simply a facet of the medium. The point of an RPG is for the player to take initiative and play through an adventure. The Player Character doesn’t have much of a personality, because its actions are all determined by the player. And even in plot-heavy games, the Non-Player Characters tend to be pretty one-dimensional, because their only purpose is to prompt a reaction from the player. The more time a game devotes to the motivations and experiences of NPCs, the less time is devoted to the player taking action, and the less interactive the game is. The characters really ARE only there to reflect the objectives of the player.

    One of the ways this manifests itself is in the characters all being attractive.

    Is universal prettiness in games, then, a bad thing? Not as long as the RPG medium is content with the label of escapist, low entertainment. If it’s acknowledged that such games exist purely for the pleasure of the players, than why not entertain them with sexy characters? On the other hand, if the gaming industry has any aspirations of creating serious artistic expression (and some recent laudable entries indicate that it does), then designing a more diverse, realistic virtual experience is the only way to achieve that. But, business is business, and escapism sells.

    The other issue with designing characters to be attractive to the player is, who are the players? Game designers tend to direct their pandering towards white straight males with very mainstream standards of beauty. And that, unless I’m mistaken, is what feminists object to about the medium. Not that characters in games are designed to appeal to the players, but that they are designed to appeal to only a narrow demographic of players. As tigtog said, women fantasize too.

    And to be fair to the original poster, in the thread he referred to he was not just talking about the appearance of female characters in games. He bemoaned the fact that the men all tended toward underwear model physiques.

    • “On the other hand, if the gaming industry has any aspirations of creating serious artistic expression (and some recent laudable entries indicate that it does), then designing a more diverse, realistic virtual experience is the only way to achieve that. But, business is business, and escapism sells.”

      I happen to be a Philosopher and a gamer, and I feel like I should let you know that “art games” would displease quite a few of us in the department. Why?

      http://insomnia.ac/commentary/the_death_of_art_and_transaesthetics/

      For starters.

      • sadinotna: From that article, it sounds like you don’t object to “art games” so much as the very definition of any current output as “Art,” because it has been blended with commodities to the point where it doesn’t exist on a level of aesthetic value.

        Okay.

        I’d say art was a commodity pretty much throughout human history, but fine, whatever you say, there’s no longer any such thing as Art with a capital “A.”

        So I’ll excise that offensive word from my comment.

        Now, if the gaming industry has any aspirations of creating serious expression (and some recent laudable entries indicate that it does), then designing a more diverse, realistic virtual experience is the only way to achieve that.

        Anything else?

      • You’re no philosopher. You’re just a gamer with a blog who likes contrarians such as Nietzsche and Baudrillard.

      • Wow, I know that comment 15 moths old, but I have to say the article it points to (and the one concerning semantics) were perhaps the most elitist things I’ve read in my entire life.

    • “Ah, well here’s the thing about lazy characterization in RPGs: it’s simply a facet of the medium. The point of an RPG is for the player to take initiative and play through an adventure. The Player Character doesn’t have much of a personality, because its actions are all determined by the player. And even in plot-heavy games, the Non-Player Characters tend to be pretty one-dimensional, because their only purpose is to prompt a reaction from the player. The more time a game devotes to the motivations and experiences of NPCs, the less time is devoted to the player taking action, and the less interactive the game is. The characters really ARE only there to reflect the objectives of the player.”

      I have to disagree with this somewhat. In particular that the PC is there only to reflect the motives of the Player.

      I’ve always likened D&D to acting without a script. The joy in the game for me is trying to make a character that is unlike ones self come to life. The character sheet has fields for personality traits too – it’s not all fighting stats! D&D is a ROLE-playing game.

      What’s more the character’s alignment – whether they are good or evil; law abiding or chaos driven – is a key component in game play. Not everyone that plays an evil (selfish) character is evil. Likewise it would be possible to play a sexist character when you are a feminist.

      If someone is role playing well, then we should no more ascribe their characters actions to them as we should do an on-screen actor’s.

      As a male, I’ve played female characters; as a non-drinker (for philosophical reasons) I’ve played a Dwarf who was constantly drunk, I could go on. Personally I also get a kick out of playing characters that don’t conform to the in-game stereotypes, things like Drow who are scared of the dark, or a Dwarf who wants to be a wizard. An illusionist who is deaf but who likes creating audible illusions, etc.

      Exploring a different set of motivations is one of the things that makes role-playing fun.

      • Yep, you make a good point. I wasn’t thinking when I read the part about this being tabletop D&D. I assumed he was talking about the MMORPG. But you’re right, in the tabletop RPG there’s a lot more invested in the characters’ behavior.

  3. edit: The article in on electronic games in particular, but applks to literally everything in general.

  4. …I really, really hate that I’m going to say this, but there you go.

    There are no fat elves in D&D for two reasons. One, if a person’s playing a character in D&D, it’s going to be running around fighting stuff. Is it reasonable to expect a (fictional, admittedly) adventurer who spends almost all of their time highly physically active to have a large percentage of fat? Not really.
    Secondly- because they’re elves. They don’t get fat, they don’t put on much muscle tone, they don’t have facial or body hair (other than eyebrows.) It’s just a part of the race. They’re slender and willowy- and pay for that in combat. (In other words, for none-D&D players, they can’t take much damage.)

    As for whether it’s an offensive question- I think the issue is the assumption that all people will want them to be sexy, sexy ladies. (Or men.) And, frankly, so what? There’s a difference between finding a character- or person- attractive, and focusing on nothing BUT the attraction. Same with character creation- there’s nothing wrong with building characters you’d find appealing, but in RP-focused groups, a character with depth is going to be much more appreciated.
    …And in none-RP focused groups, I tend to find that running around bashing stuff tends to end up the order of the day, as opposed to lusting over fictional characters. So either way, whether the character’s appealing or not is only an issue if you make it one.

    Which, I suppose, is where it gets to potentially offensive.

    • Lol… Did you really use those justifications? They’re elves and so they’re just, you know, naturally thin? Because elves are totally real and have real, what, genetics? No, they’re a fictional ‘race’ of people created by a real race of people- white people- to look like an idealization of white standards of beauty- e.g. thin. As to your first point, do you think it’s realistic for a female elf to fight in ‘armor’ that exposes half of her body and looks a combination bikini-milkmaid costume? I find that rather less realistic than a ‘fat’ elf, but to each their own. Sorry, but those’re some bad arguments you’ve got there.

      • You will have to distinguish between players asking why the question and characters asking the question. If a character asks they will get the ‘in-game’ explanation for an answer. i.e. that Elves are naturally thin. If a player asks, then are they asking for the in game answer, or are they asking why the game creators chose these characteristics for the races? The second question is a complex one that feminism should probably concern itself with. The first, not so much. The game designers have actually devised the racial types based on mythology to some extent. So what a feminist has to do, should they want to deconstruct the the in-game racial traits, is to examine the inherent sexism in mythology.

        Interestingly Elven characters receive +1 to dexterity ability scores but -1 to constitution. The reasoning, from the source book is that elves are naturally lithe. i.e. they are so skinny as to have poorer health in general. So, in reading the fine print you could argue that the game designers are not supporting the idea that thin is ideal! Further evidence for this could be found in that Dwarvern characters, who are naturally short and a little portly, they actually get a positive modifier to constitution.

      • Actually, I don’t think they’re bad arguments at all. As kandela said, each race has strengths and weaknesses- an elf’s weakness is that they’re so slender, so thin, that they’re physically weakened because of it, but also have higher dexterity. They also have heightened senses and can grasp wizardry better than other races.

        You may argue they are a fictional race of people, but they were created as though they were real, with characteristics, genetic traits, and racial traits- as were every other race in D&D, including humans, half-orcs, dwarves, etc. You’ll no more find an elf as wide as a dwarf, as you’ll find a dwarf as slender as an elf.

        As for the armor which exposes half her body- well, I think you’ll find no armor designed by the creators of D&D is actually designed to expose that much flesh. No, I don’t think it’s realistic for someone to run around with most of their body uncovered and not get hacked to pieces in seconds simply because it’s heavy armor modified to look like she’s mostly naked- but that comes down to the individual players who are modifying their armor to look like that, and NOT the game.
        If you want to discuss the realism, and want a character to take damage based on how much skin they’re showing, the game would get tedious for even the most enthusiastic of players- can you imagine having to roll a dice to see if this body part was hit, or that one, or that one? No, of course not. At some point, realism has to be curbed in favour of a less boring set up. I don’t want to roll fifteen dice every round of combat.

        Perhaps one should be focusing less on the D&D games and more at the society which says that women should always, always be attractive, and that half-naked = attractive, and so on. Which is, of course, the purpose of feminism, no?
        As a transgender, when living as a woman, I always had this horrible pressure on me to look good, and was taught that that was the only way people would like me. The worst part was when that was proved right.
        I’m glad I no longer suffer through that, but I’d rather focus on destroying the sociological values of that mindset, that belief, than sit here and blame games for misogyny (or, at least, being offensive to feminists.) Having been oppressed, subdued, and treated badly for the first twenty years of my life thanks to my gender, believe me when I say I’m gung-ho about destroying gender barriers, but I’ve never had a problem with D&D. There’s plenty of other games (primarily video games) out there which are worse- starting with those who depict women as helpless, whining, and needing to be “looked after” by men.

        We’ve moved here from fat elves and why they’re not there, to the potential offensiveness of D&D in general.

    • Fat people can be healthy. Fat people can be active.

      Fat people can be attractive, too.

      There’s a lot of assumptions to unpack there.

  5. From the forum poster:
    “there’s no real RPG art shouldn’t depict real people of both genders (and “conventions of the genre” are no excuse; I’m looking at you, superhero comics”

    Few months ago my son got a current issue of the Batman comic. I went through it too since I was a big comic book fan as a kid. And I could certainly tell that bulges in the characters had become much more pronounces. This would certainly fit the feminist critique of objectification. But at the same time the comic also had dialogue that has expressive of the characters in relatively realistic manner. Is added character depth then giving the OK to more fantasized characters?

    I am a man, but I’m not willing to give up on my fantasies while I wait for the rest of the society to catch up to feminism.

  6. Good grief, we’re trying to educate roleplayers about feminism? Good luck with that. There’s a reason why females are so few and far between in roleplaying communities, and men complaining that the sourcebooks don’t cater to their sexual fantasies enough are the least of it.

    I have learned from experience that whenever I’m going to play with male roleplayers, I first have to screen them to make sure they don’t think it would be cool to have their character rape the characters of the female players. And then roll their eyes when the females “don’t understand” that it’s “just a game.”

    • …Wow.
      If any of the guys in my RP groups tried to pull that, I think I’d probably be jumping down their throats the second the words were out of their mouth. And if the rest of the group actually sided with the guy who thought it was okay (which, knowing the guys as I do, I doubt) I’d be out the door without waiting for my ride.

      Luckily, I don’t hang around with people who think rape is okay, so those of my RP groups who I know well would probably be getting in line to chew out anyone who thought it’d be, to quote lala, “cool to have their character rape the characters of the female players.”

      I don’t know whether that’s just because I don’t choose to RP- or associate- with misogynists, or the differences in culture. I’d say a bit of both, my glasses aren’t so rose-tinted as to make me think British culture is more than marginally less misogynistic than American culture.

      • That stuff shows up a lot in the horror stories on RPG.net, so I’m kind of surprised you didn’t know already.

        As far as the actual game goes, well, the main argument I’ve seen is that people’s characters doing horrible nasty stuff is okay if all the players agree that it’s in their “comfort zone”. This ignores the fact that most women don’t have rape in their CZ for some very good reasons and just pretend they do because none of the men have a problem.

        Of course, there are some circumstances where women actual are comfortable with role playing that sort of thing. I’ve actually noticed that when I run games like Bliss Stage (Think Bokurano as an rpg) or Grey Ranks (you play a child soldier in the Warsaw Uprising), we tend to have more women in the group. Maybe the “serious” treatment makes “it’s just a game!” more defensible.

  7. Whatever happened to freedom of expression. I mean, if he likes skinny women and he likes fat women who cares? Well obviously a lot of people care, but the point is that men should be allowed to choose what type of women they are attracted to without being harassed by those who are “morally superior” It’s just insulting

    • That’s not the issue. Feminists (at least, the ones worth listening to) don’t have a problem with you liking the skinny women, or hell, even the porny women. The issue is that there are way too many women on the “skinny” side in most forms of media, rpg illustrations included. Furthermore, it’s very hard to find any other body type portrayed as sexually attractive, which is annoying to the people that like that sort of thing.

      I don’t see how you could argue against variety even if you’re not a feminist.

    • Wow, that reeks of male privilege.

      Men certainly DO get to choose what they are attracted to… in fact, it’s all we ever hear about. When I turn on my TV (which is rare, these days), I am bombarded with countless images of scantily-clad women with augmented breasts. I cannot recall the last time I saw a woman with natural breasts in a mainstream movie. But, aside from that, I’m just flat-out sick of looking at T&A, period.

      Every day, I am forced to endure the Male Gaze, in various forms of media & advertising. What I want to see, as a heterosexual female, is largely ignored. Now THAT is insulting.

      David’s response just makes me laugh and shake my head. The whole world caters to his wants & needs, and yet he has the unmitigated gall to play victim. Unbelievable.

      Further food for thought: Women have been pressured & bullied for eons to accept the “average guy”. We are told to always look on the inside. If a woman even dares to comment on a physically attractive man (while in the presence of other, less-attractive men), she will be berated and shamed to no end. I know what I’m talking about, as I have been in this situation more times than I care to count.

      I’m not so much opposed to female objectification, but rather the fact that there is no equivalent form of male objectification in mainstream media. If both genders were being sexualized, then it would all make sense.

      You’ve got yours…. where is ours?

      • Women can also judge men by just looks alone, but fact is, they don’t. I know a few of the handsome guys who get not much attention from women, compared to how handsome they are, while most guys that are good with women that I know vary in looks, one looks good two I know are guys you’d never imagine were any score forh women. The difference here is that the guys who are good with women are better at approaching them, staying natural, not clingy and not afraid of them. Women like those traits. Men want sex more often than women, making an imbalance where men have to approach women, women have the luxury to choose wether to aproach or not. So a guys aproach/attitude need to be good to score while women can rely on looks alone if they want to. Men are also more visual creatures so lookd count more for partners. If there was no imbalance in wants, things would be more equal.
        For judging partners on looks.. the same happens in the gay scene, on average gay men judge partner guys on looks equally as straight men do, and not go for personality as much as women do. (that is in men, a larger part judges on looks.. not ALL men, and not ALL women dont care about looks)

      • Sweet Honesty, your comment has been unapproved due to length, as per the Comments Policy. Please edit for more brevity in future. (Break your reply up into separate sections for separate points, perhaps?)

      • Depho, you are just repeating tired old myths about female sexuality.

        Women are only thought to be the way you think we are, due to gender-conformist socialization tactics (thanks to the patriarchy).

        Yeah, the whole “slut” thing wouldn’t have anything to do with being “less sexual” huh? Or the fact that we are taught to care about men’s personalities, because, ya know, men are human, and worthy of deeper analysis… unlike women. (sarcasm)

        I can hear your privilege loud & clear.

  8. I think part of why you get a lot of stereotypes with NPCs in sit-down RPGs is because of the nature of the game – you have one person playing all the NPCs, who has to keep up with multiple people who have one character each. Stereotypical characters (in more ways than just appearance) are easier to keep track of, and easier to convey to players quickly.

    I think the only game I’ve heard of where players routinely have more than one character is Bliss Stage. There’s probably a few more that are less likely to have many GM-controlled characters, and thus it’s easier for the GM to keep up. (Though the only one I can think of right now is Maid RPG.) Still, this is why I personally am unlikely to even try playing Bliss Stage or GMing any game – I have a hard enough time keeping up when I’m only handling one character.

    • Ars Magica (A game about being a wizard, his henchmen, and the house staff, in which you play other people when your wizard takes a couple months off to research a spell; quite possibly the inventor of multi-character play!), Enemy Gods (Play a mythic hero and his chosen god), Wraith (play your character as well as another character’s death-urge), Mythic Roleplaying (everyone plays everyone: the system exists to resolve conflicting commands to the character), and, depending on your definition, Exalted: the Fair Folk (since your single “character” can and does compose multiple bodies with individual personalities aand concsiousnesses), and/or Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth (…I can’t even begin to explain what goes on in this. Google it) are games with players taking multiple characters. I came up with that off the top of my head, and I can find more if you want.

  9. I have no doubt the entertainment tries to appeal to what women find sexually attractive as well, both with characters playing up to what Depho’s talking about and just muscly male leads who take their shirts off.

    I also have no doubts that it’s working.

    • I have no doubt the entertainment tries to appeal to what women find sexually attractive as well

      Barely. And every time we do get some beefcake thrown in our direction, we are then forced to endure endless bouts of whining & bullying from the menz, who still believe that they are the only ones entitled to some eye-candy.

      muscly male leads who take their shirts off

      Let’s talk about those men… and how society perceives them negatively (the ever-so-prevalent “he’s GAY!11!” barb comes to mind). And let’s talk about how women are criticized for admiring them.

      I also have no doubts that it’s working

      It would work a lot better (and faster) if dudes like Kevin James were permanently banned from Hollywood.

      • Woah! How do you do that neat quote thing? Html?

        “Barely.”

        – Really? I feel I see it all the time, at least with the serious high-bugdet stuff – or with video games: there aren’t a lot of Homer Simpsons outside of the Simpsons game :p

        Although I guess neither Halo Guy or GoW Guy are good examples.

        “And every time we do get some beefcake thrown in our direction, we are then forced to endure endless bouts of whining & bullying from the menz, who still believe that they are the only ones entitled to some eye-candy.”

        – I’ve never experienced this, then again, that *could* be a matter of context :) Got any examples of how that would happen?

        “Let’s talk about those men… and how society perceives them negatively (the ever-so-prevalent “he’s GAY!11!” barb comes to mind). And let’s talk about how women are criticized for admiring them.”

        – Oh, unlike female sex symbols? I don’t know if it’s envy, conservativism or a sense of properness, but I’m pretty sure it goes both ways.

        Though I can imagine it’s worse for women in more conservatively religious groups and worse for men in certain Progressive groups. Again, I’m probably more familiar with the latter, even though my family is relatively conservative and Christian (I’m not), they’re academics and we live in Norway.

        “It would work a lot better (and faster) if dudes like Kevin James were permanently banned from Hollywood.”

        – For being fat, or is there something I don’t know?

      • Christer, I’d like to know your gender status, before I reply to this.

  10. I’m a male (in both ways) and I’m here to learn, so thanks for replying. : )

  11. I’m a male

    Well, that explains a few things. Soooo…. here’s my reply to the former:

    Really? I feel I see it all the time

    Uh, when there’s a Boys Gone Wild, Mr. America Pageant and America’s Next Top Male Model, I’ll take that statement seriously. Until then, I’ll propose that you’re hallucinating. Keep in mind that I don’t live in your country, I’m in the US. Our programming may differ quite a bit from yours.

    I’ve never experienced this

    Why would you? You’re a dude. I SAID women experience it.

    Got any examples of how that would happen?

    The same way any other vocalization happens; they open their mouth and the words come out (or, in the case of the internet, they type it).

    All sarcasm aside, I’m speaking from personal experience, in addition to how I’ve seen other women bullied for liking a guy that makes the boy’s club feel insecure. For instance, there is a particular pro-wrestler that I fancy, and I can’t tell you how much crap I’ve endured from other, male, wrestling fans (both online and off) for being fond of him. Not only do they insist that I have poor taste in men, but they also attempt to manipulate me into liking a wrestler that is “boy’s club approved” (usually, it’s the most unattractive guy on the show).

    Oh, unlike female sex symbols?

    Ummm… in case you haven’t noticed, society upholds & admires attractive women. Men want them… and many women want to be like them. The same cannot be said of attractive men; they are berated (by the average joe type), and their sexuality is often questioned. I don’t know how you could even suggest that attractive women face the same scrutiny as attractive men…. I’ve never heard a woman being called “gay” if she takes care of her appearance.

    For being fat, or is there something I don’t know?

    For being on one of those ridiculous TV sitcoms, where a pathetic shlub is paired-up with some woman who is clearly out of his league. I don’t have a problem with fat people (other than concern for their health), but I am pretty sick & tired of the idea that it’s acceptable for a man to be overweight (and touted as a “lovable teddy bear”), but no such privilege exists for overweight women. Insult a fat woman, and people will laugh. Insult a fat man, and a few people might laugh… but many others will tell you to “have a heart” or “give the poor guy a break”… or some such nonsense. It’s a double-standard, pure & simple.

    • I don’t have a problem with fat people (other than concern for their health)

      Just a quick note that there are a lot of myths about fat and health.

      • Well, I think it depends on how much extra weight we’re talking about. 20 or 30 pounds over goal weight isn’t exactly dangerous, but somebody who is as big as Kevin James must certainly have, current or soon-to-manifest, health issues related to their weight. Apple-shaped people (those who tend to gain weight in the upper body) are more at risk for heart disease.

        While there are certainly a lot of myths about people who are overweight, it cannot be denied that too much extra weight poses a serious health risk. My Uncle was obese… and he died in his garden, due to a heart attack. He was out picking tomatoes for his BLT sandwich, btw.

      • SH, I linked to a post on another blog because I didn’t want to derail the thread here with talking about health myths. Shapely Prose is devoted to discussing Health At Every Size and debunking health myths, and I suggest you could benefit from some reading over there.

    • Also, SH – I don’t think it’s helpful to be so dismissive of arguments based on the gender of your interlocutor.

      That’s biased argument right there, and is a textbook example of the ad hominem fallacy. It’s not a sound rebuttal.

  12. Commentor in moderation in reply to Sweet Honesty – your comment is too long for this blog’s comment guidelines. Re-draft something more concise and resubmit, perhaps?

  13. I have a problem with this. I am a heavier woman and I don’t find that to be objectifying at all. Someone is actually saying that a woman’s weight has no effect on her beauty- the exact opposite of what most of society says. And you insist on disagreeing with one of the few people who actualyl thinks heavier women are pretty? I find this to be counterproductive, to be honest.

  14. I see the point. By focusing on beauty, instead of taking on the idea that worth=beauty=thin for women, we are just revising it to say worth=beauty=(in the eye of the beholder/some non-weight based criterion) for women.

    Some people find overweight women beautiful, some don’t, and same for men. It’s a matter of personal preference, and I don’t feel guilty that I’m not attracted to overweight men.

    I am not sure increasing portraits of overweight elves will help the overweight find acceptance. Maybe showing “real” people (movie/TV actors) who are overweight but show healthy behaviors will be a good influence on the culture to stop stereotyping the overweight.

    Still, rather than increasing objectified portraits of women, overweight, underweight, or healthy-weight, let’s focus on avoiding language and attitudes which equate beauty with a person’s only value.

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