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Saturday, May 26, 2007

So Jordin Sparks is too fat to be an Idol winner?

So says Meme Roth, who believes the seventeen-year-old Sparks is too "obese" to be an American Idol or, specifically, an idol for young Americans. She believes the AI winner would exacerbate the growing obesity problem among young people by giving kids the impression that it's all right to be - Lord help us - a size 12.

First of all, who the hell is this Roth woman, and what is this pseudo organization she belongs to, The National Action Against Obesity? (sounds bogus to me). Anyway, Roth actually believes Ms. Sparks' image will lead children down the devastating road of diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure by normalizing "obesity." Yes, there is undoubtedly an epidemic among kids of all ages now being diagnosed with adult health problems. But, understand, America is also dealing with the other spectrum of eating problems, particularly anorexia and bulimia, and this message that people who are size 10's and 12's are obese feeds into the distorted cultural myths about beauty and health. Ms. Roth's message also seems to say that for women, looks trumps talent, wit, intelligence and hell, our very souls.

As some of the commentors at Feministe point out, the diet industry benefits greatly by making normal-sized women feel that they should be constantly on a diet, and if not, they somehow do not measure up (or actually, measure down). Roth, the industry's unwitting (or is she?) spokesdummy, is obviously confusing a normal, curvaceous body with that of someone who is medically obese, and that is a problematic mindset.

One of the Feministe commentors did a Google search on Roth and found a quote that is supposedly the inspiration for her campaign against obesity:

"I see staying fit as an obligation to my self and my family. Back in the 80s when I was Van Halen's 'number one fan,' I did get the chance to meet the band. Eddie Van Halen made me promise I'd never get fat. He said I looked like something out of Playboy. Talk about making a girl swoon. I kept my part of the bargain; maybe he'll come to the Wedding Gown Challenge?"

So, it's Ms. Jordin's health that Roth is so worried about, huh? It sounds to me the underlying premise of Roth's whole campaign is that women are supposed to look like something out of Playboy and be eye candy for the besotten, superficial three-leggers out there. Roth doesn't understand that she is more of a problem than Jordin Sparks could ever be.

Let's not overlook the racial aspects of this. Black women are often told that we need to look more like white women in order to be desirable. And as black women are often curvier, our natural curves become a negative for which we're supposed to apologize. I once had a white co-worker tell me that because of my size, I would feel "uncomfortable" going to Miami because of all the skinny people down there. Mind you, here was a woman who was a size six, more or less, who thought herself gargantuan. And just because she was penalizing herself, she thought I should, too.

Along with the racial issues, this controversy reeks of sexism. It's conspicuous that Roth comes out of the rock she's been hiding under to attack Ms. Sparks, but never said a thing about Ruben Studdard. Curious. Or could it be that Roth believes only women need to be "healthy." Ironically, Studdard's girth was a big problem that nearly derailed his career and his life, so if anyone needed a talking to...

I'm so tired of this double-standard that says all women have to look "good" all the time under every circumstance, while men are allowed to look like Quasimodo and still get respect. It's always been my assumption that the reason men want women to pare down is so that their own figures look bulkier - and therefore, "manlier" - by comparison. Well, here's a suggestion for you guys: instead of us losing our curves with the endless dieting, why don't you guys benchpress some muscles on you and bulk up for real? That may be a partial solution, at least.

Or better yet, why don't we just stop penalizing people for their looks, period.

PS: I like this mot I found reading the comments over at Feministe: "As a wise woman once said, being pretty is not the fee women pay for taking up space on the planet." Amen to that.

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Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 5/26/2007 06:31:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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