Saturday, August 9, 2014

Turns Out Our National Weight-Loss Obsession Wasn't About Health At All! (Who Knew?)

 By Anči

So after years and years, of exploiting a publicly-sanctioned focus on "health" in order to (I dunno,"scientifically?") justify an aggressive campaign of body shaming, Shape Magazine has finally made a fatal misstep--and effectively unmasked its true horned that of (yet another) unabashed agent of the male gaze. (Surprise, surprise!) Which by the way is also funny, since I'm pretty the magazine is run by actual male gays. 

So, for those of you who aren't as familiar with Shape as I am, (probably because we don't frequent the same medical buildings,) it's a magazine that purports to celebrate um, "fitness," and "female empowerment" (while exclusively featuring the boner-worthiest images of "well-being")

And Isn't it funny how fitness always seems to coincide with dude nation's current pornification agenda?
Not to mention how this pattern continues to go unnoticed, cause see, fitness is one of those magical coded terms that can easily be manipulated into appropriateness, while signifying something far more troubling and sinister.  After all, it literally means like, glowing and robust. (neither of which terms came to mind, when I saw LeAnn Rhimes on a recent-ish Shape magazine cover...)

"I'm this much fitness!"

You feeling me, readers? Most of the time, these healthy living magazines aren't as interested in advocating healthy living, as ...airbrushing abs onto hot bodies.

I can feel my blood-pressure hitting its target level already!

No one is quite as aware of this insidious hypocrisy as Brooke Birmingham-- who after undergoing (a medically justified) 170-pound weight loss, is now the picture of radiant health.

If your first thought was to gawk at her stomach, let me remind you this woman did something that millions of Americans struggle to do every day-- lose 170 pounds. She's a freaking superhero. (If you don't believe me, just try losing five pounds. I do all the time, and it's the absolute fucking worst. (Because chocolate is delicious, and running is fucking boring. Not to mention that self-sabotage can feel weirdly comforting, when you have questionable self esteem as well as an ice-box full of cheese. )

Anyway, due to her extreme weight loss, Brooke was slated to appear in Shape, as one of their featured inspirational weight loss stories-- so naturally they requested a picture of her new body to showcase in the issue... at which point shit got seriously lookist, and creepy.
Cause once Brooke provided the (above) photo of herself, the sassy sisterhood at Shape turned an even ghastlier shade of pale... (get it? cause they're probably all-white over there?)  before mumbling something to the effect of  "erm, actually, could you send us a picture with your shirt on? Not that there's anything wrong with your body--it's just that there's this new pro-shirt policy we implemented literally two seconds after we received the attached snapshot of your weird loose skin."

Of course Brooke knew  the "policy" was bullshit, and publicly outed the magazine for their incredibly degrading, shitty behavior*.... which shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone, because hello:

Which brings me to my final point: Weight loss campaigns and hardly ever about genuine concern for the overweight-- If anything, they are an excuse to bully women into submitting to the patriarchal demand for appropriate fuckability. If not, then Brooke's body would not have been deemed problematic to display in a piece about healthy body transformations.

Get it?

*after being publicly shamed, the magazine changed its mind.

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