I reject your approval, in favor of my own self-assessment
January 21, 2017 12:51 AM   Subscribe

Dear Hot Men Who Love My Body As It Is: IDGAF by Amanda Richards "Many aspects of beauty are tangled in a complicated nest of societal standards, including men's approval, so it's understandable that you might think your input is necessary — after all, as a hot, fit man, you've been groomed to believe that your opinion matters the most."
posted by wonton endangerment (54 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
The real question is, does Jay care that she doesn't care? Secondly, I'm not sure what this adds to the conversation. She's emphatically stating that she doesn't care, so I'm not sure what the reaction is supposed to be. "Good. I'm glad you don't care?"

I think the message that one's self worth shouldn't be based on other people's opinions is vaguely positive, but I'm not sure if it's true. I don't see how people can honestly disengage social feedback from their own feelings. We're social animals and I suspect that we're supposed to care what society thinks for the good of society.

I'm glad I read this piece and thanks for sharing it, but I don't think Amanda has contributed much. I do however feel that it's a good thing that normal, real-looking people are making a comeback in terms of what's considered sexy. I feel like the pendulum has swung away from overly groomed, photoshopped, unattainable, sterile perfection of 10-15 years ago. Even if people mentioned in the narrative don't appreciate this swing, I believe it's a net good.
posted by Telf at 2:17 AM on January 21, 2017 [19 favorites]


The real question is, does Jay care that she doesn't care?

The idea that he could very likely not care is the point of the post - Jay's been listened to his whole life and his opinions treated as valid and important just by virtue of who he is. The pos is a wake-up call to him to say 'it's fine for you o have your tastes, but it's not what we depend on for our own sense of self-worth."
posted by Space Coyote at 2:26 AM on January 21, 2017 [38 favorites]


Yes, I think she did a good job clearly stating that she wasn't attacking Jay. I hope nobody interprets the piece negatively. It was an aggressively neutral statement on her part.
posted by Telf at 2:28 AM on January 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


We're social animals and I suspect that we're supposed to care what society thinks for the good of society.

Hopefully we're moving away from the idea that "what society thinks" means "what straight men think".
posted by emilyw at 2:40 AM on January 21, 2017 [104 favorites]


We're social animals and I suspect that we're supposed to care what society thinks for the good of society.

But how does a man approving of what I look like do anything for the good of society? Why does his wish to publicly approve of a plus size body contribute more than simply allowing women to exist without judgment of their bodies as part of their worth at all? It's more valuable to hear people appreciate and love themselves as they are than it is to reinforce the idea that you're nobody till somebody wants to fuck you.
posted by tinwhiskers at 3:19 AM on January 21, 2017 [33 favorites]


Knowing someone might want to have sex with me is not what I call "approval". It is, when talking about total strangers, gross and super uncomfortable.
posted by Sequence at 4:29 AM on January 21, 2017 [31 favorites]


My first reaction was, spending 12 paragraphs saying why you don't give a fuck makes me wonder if, in fact, you might actually give just a little bit of a fuck.

I looked up her other articles, and I like her writing style. How to Get a Revenge Body, in particular, was a good read.

I looked up Jay's videos ... and apparently this is Jay's thing. He's got a whole series talking about how much he likes plus-size women. And suddenly I understood the reason behind the essay a bit more.
posted by kanewai at 4:31 AM on January 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


It seems to me that what this piece is carefully and artfully highlighting is how problematic it is to see an expression of preference as a "good deed". Jay's intentions, in this video, don't seem malign, but his words still come from a position of privilege in which he experiences the right to define the value of women's bodies. Criticism of specific body types is a problem, but it's not the problem. The real problem is a world which defines the value of women's bodies by the extent to which they stimulate male desire. Despite saying that he wants everyone to feel happy with their body, Jay is reinforcing that dynamic, not opposing it.

I don't think it's correct to describe Jay's video as a "good deed". I don't believe he deserves any praise or criticism for his preferences, and that the illusion that he does is a product of our prejudices about women and plus size women in particular. Imagine that Jay had made the same video about women with large breasts. Would it seem like a "good deed" then? If not, why not?

Talking about your sexual preferences is not charity work. Conventionally attractive men are not doing plus size women a "favour" by being attracted to them. The world does not benefit from them scattering their sexual largesse among those they see as needy. The world does benefit from women taking such assumptions to task, and asserting their own rights to determine the worth of their bodies.
posted by howfar at 4:56 AM on January 21, 2017 [80 favorites]


Jay's been listened to his whole life and his opinions treated as valid and important just by virtue of who he is.

You think so?
posted by yonega at 5:12 AM on January 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


There's a thing about privilege which makes it easy to not recognize the crucial and stark difference between actually being an ally and the performance of being an ally -- the latter is just a different version of the same old shit.

In a totally different context, over the holidays my sister and I -- both disabled with the same illness -- talked about the toxic nature of pity and how it's the case that so many people think their ableist pity is helping. She is much more generous than I am and she endeavors to give those folk the benefit of doubt-- but if you don't understand what's destructive about pity and don't recognize your actions as such, then you are part of the problem -- arguably the more insidious and hurtful part of the problem -- and not part of the solution. Pity is alienating and one of the clues that this is the case is that it's more often than not part of a performance, of establishing a social identity about yourself. It's about you.

Those with privilege almost always make it about them (us), because that's the default.

People are different; we come in many shapes and sizes and sexual attraction is what it is. Sure, much of it is culturally determined and rightly criticized as such, but much is idiosyncratic and personal.

It's okay to want to fuck who you want to fuck; but it's something else when your preference is expressed as a social performance. And that performance will in many cases not mean what you intend.

If you're not in the privileged position, this public performance can be bracing and empowering. But if you are in the privileged position, it most likely reinforces that privilege rather than challenging it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:25 AM on January 21, 2017 [31 favorites]


There are male bodies that I find attractive and others that I don't find attractive. I mean I don't have a Youtube channel where I go on and on about aquiline noses but I think being physically attracted to certain types isn't in itself a gross thing to admit. And I'm sure Jay's had years of overweight women talking themselves down and not seeing their own self worth, so in THAT sense I understand why someone would want to say "No, stop being negative about yourself, I think you're beautiful". I don't *need* anyone's approval, but I don't find it gross if someone finds me attractive if that's all it is, I just say thank you, and 99.9% of the time that's how it ends - no weird creepy vibe, no weird sexual commentary, no staring at my chest or anything like THAT.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 6:07 AM on January 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ah, metafilter. I would have thought that we as a site really got the whole "men are not actually doing women a huge favor by giving detailed descriptions of who they'd like to fuck, even if the people they'd like to fuck are not thin blond white teens from affluent backgrounds". But I guess not.

Also, because in this context "plus-sized" often means "pin-up shaped but bigger" it still ends up creating a hierarchy among fat women - there are fat women who are "good enough" to be hot and fat women who are just....fat. Which leads to a double way to fail - not only is one fat, but one is fat in the wrong way.

Really, seriously - strangers' looks and bodies are not your business, and none of us need to develop elaborate public rhetorics about just exactly precisely what we find attractive in others.
posted by Frowner at 7:32 AM on January 21, 2017 [97 favorites]


And that's fine for you to personally feel that way, Hazelsmrf. But many of us do feel uncomfortable knowing that a proportion of male allyship is ultimately based on sexual attraction rather than just, women are people who also deserve human decency and respect.
posted by augustimagination at 8:01 AM on January 21, 2017 [29 favorites]


There is a certain type of guy who feels the need to crash into discussions among women about body image with comments about his boner feels.
posted by LindsayIrene at 8:36 AM on January 21, 2017 [33 favorites]


From emilyw:

Hopefully we're moving away from the idea that "what society thinks" means "what straight men think".

Also, from tinwhiskers:
But how does a man approving of what I look like do anything for the good of society?

Sorry, I was unclear in my above comments and I didn't differentiate my thoughts as lucidly as I should have.

What I meant to convey was that it's really very difficult not to care about other people's opinions. I'm happy that society is moving in a more pluralistic direction and that straight (in this example not white) males are no longer considered the default arbiters of what society wants. This is a good thing. The point I failed to communicate was that I think Amanda probably does care in some small degree, based on the the effort she put into writing this post.

I think it's great that we no longer need to care, and that these opinions don't necessarily have control our lives. That's not the same as actually not being bothered by what people write on the internet. I think if anyone write a blog post claiming "IDGAF about X". Well probably yes, they GAF, maybe only a small F about X.
posted by Telf at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Telf, you seem stuck on this idea that Amanda needs to be called out for lying about caring. Of course she cares, but not about what you're insisting she cares about (his boner for her body): she cares because fat women are always defined by how someone else feels about us and she's writing about it because she wants to shed light on this phenomenon to change it.

The way people feel about my body informs so much of my life. Men and women (but mostly men) care deeply about my fatness. You can't avoid the obesity crisis handwringing, the $60 billion diet industry, gyms who assume that my body is a "before" and that the only reason a fat woman would move her body is to discard that body, etc. Of course fat women fucking care about that, it means our safety and emotional well being are decided as being less important than what you think about fat bodies.

It's a goddamn miracle if you can live in a world that thinks you're a disgusting, lazy bitch who shouldn't go out in public like that and like yourself anyway. Amanda is saying that she doesn't care what other people think when it comes to her self-esteem. She's not an idiot, of course she cares that she has to put forth such an incredible effort to like what she sees in the mirror everyday.

Being patted on the head by men for doing this so they can take the credit for the hard work of enjoying fat bodies is bullshit and I'm glad she called it out. I'm down for anyone who has done the work that I describe above to get to a point where you feel like fat bodies are just another shape humans come in and you're okay with that, but don't expect fat women to be grateful for that. It's seriously the least that guy could do.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:27 AM on January 21, 2017 [52 favorites]


Telf, I don't know your gender identification, but your writing sounds a lot like mansplaining what the author really cares about, and repeated assertion that you have a superior grasp on what the conversation is and what's worth adding to it.
posted by wonton endangerment at 10:56 AM on January 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Also, nitpicking non-essential points is a classic derailing tactic.

Let's say the author cares so much, she cries into her pillow every night. That wouldn't detract at all from the substance of her article. If you really don't see this, maybe it's worth sitting back and giving it time to sink in. Awareness is hard work.
posted by wonton endangerment at 11:02 AM on January 21, 2017 [10 favorites]


The point I failed to communicate was that I think Amanda probably does care in some small degree, based on the the effort she put into writing this post.

Why is it so important to you that a woman be wrong about something?
posted by Etrigan at 11:07 AM on January 21, 2017 [25 favorites]


The point I failed to communicate was that I think Amanda probably does care in some small degree, based on the the effort she put into writing this post.

And if this were true, it would mean... what, exactly?
posted by XtinaS at 11:39 AM on January 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


If I'm being honest with myself, as much as self-worth and self-confidence are important, I don't think I can completely decouple these things from a desire to be desired sexually by others, as long as I'm invested in my sex/dating life. At the very least it would be considerably harder to achieve this if no one ever voiced their desire for a body like mine. I'd much rather hear it than not hear it. I can understand people being fed up with men who interject their dick's feelings when they're not needed (like forum discussions and such), but I'm not seeing it in the video. It's his own channel, he can say whatever he wants on it. Actually I tend to be more off-put by saccharinely sweet inspirational messages like "love YOURSELF!! <3" because like, lol, easier said than done? Is loving myself and having a sense of self worth even meaningful in a vacuum?

Then, the topic of the speaker's identity: Watching the video, in the beginning there's something about his wording that kind of echoes objectification (saying plus size women's bodies are the most beautiful things and such)--but I actually find myself feeling the same discomfort whenever I occasionally see messages from lesbians on my twitter/Tumblr feed that go like "omg I just love chubby girls so much! They're just so cute and fluffy, I just cant!! Ahhh~" I mean, that's just me. I await the day someone describes my body as handsome or striking rather than beautiful or fluffy, but someone else might be appreciative of that message (clearly, the women who are themselves sometimes plus-size think this or they wouldn't say it). And maybe to others the identity of the speaker really does matter, for the multitudinous sociopolitical reasons discussed throughout this thread, but for me it just kind of all blends into a general clumsy broadcast of one's feelings.
posted by picklenickle at 11:43 AM on January 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Man: OMG your body type is so attractive to me
Woman: [silence]
Man: If she had a problem with this, I'm sure she'd say something!

Man: OMG your body type is so attractive to me
Woman: I don't care
Man: Whatever, I know you do!

Man: OMG your body type is so attractive to me
Woman: SHUT UP I DON'T CARE I DON'T CARE LALALALALA SHUT IT PLEASE
Man: Ugh, why do you keep talking about how much you don't care? Talking about how much you don't care is proof that you really do care!

[repeat for an entire lifetime]

Fin.

(Also: As long as male approval and attention are prioritized, if not outright fetishized, to the degree they are today, women will still be forced to either justify their desire for it or explain why their lack of desire for it is not materially equivalent to misandry. It's a really fun tightrope to walk, trust me!)
posted by amnesia and magnets at 11:50 AM on January 21, 2017 [79 favorites]


I think if anyone write a blog post claiming "IDGAF about X". Well probably yes, they GAF, maybe only a small F about X.

Or, y'know, they GAF about everyone assuming they GAF about X. Which is not the same thing.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:42 PM on January 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


I can see how you'd think it was totally creepy and inappropriate for someone to comment on what they find attractive if that's what your interractions have boiled down to. That hasn't been my experience, and so viewed through my lens I don't find that youtuber to be gross like some others. I had weight loss surgery 5 years ago and I'm at a place now where I'm happy with myself, but unfortunately I never got to that place when I was overweight. I wasn't one of those confident fat women, I was one of the frumpy wallflower ones that did everything she could to not be seen because I didn't think anyone could possibly ever find me attractive. So, I personally am glad that a straight man is stating that he actually might have considered me attractive. I could have a million women and gay men telling me that I was attractive, but yes, in that particular context, the opinion that really mattered was... could a straight man find me attractive. That probably makes me sound pathetic and writing it out like that makes me cringe, but it's the truth. I 100% support Amanda's thoughts on this because her feelings are valid, but the counter point is that there are also a lot of women that do crave the approval that she doesn't need.

I will also say that women do this all the time too, it's not just a man thing. Women comment on strangers bodies and what they find attractive, so there is a double standard there. I was just talking about this to my husband as he works with women, and he was saying how they're always commenting on guys when they're around him, but it would be super creepy if it was the other way around.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 3:09 PM on January 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


augustimagination I would say more that a proportion of male allyship is *initially* based on sexual attraction, but once we move past that to a point where we're not strangers it usually resolves itself. Either you make unwanted advances at me, don't get the message that i'm not interested, and thus are written out of my friends list, OR you get "friend zoned". If we have nothing in common other than the fact that you were initially attracted to me then that will naturally fizzle out, and whoever is left must actually like me for myself or whatever. Some of my male friends were guys that I approached in college because they had "awesome hair" or "wow, look at his eyes!". It's really hard to go against such a primal instinct.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I 100% support Amanda's thoughts on this because her feelings are valid, but the counter point is that there are also a lot of women that do crave the approval that she doesn't need.

From my perspective, this craving for approval is a learned thing which can actually harm us. The objectifying of women is so ubiquitous that we internalize it and objectify ourselves, much of this specifically tied into our appearance. It alters where we put our time and attention from meeting our internal needs to meeting needs associated with our self-objectification.

The rejection of benevolent sexism and objectification is one way of countering this self-objectification by addressing some of the external sources of it. Doing so publicly is a way of encouraging other women to join in the rejection of all forms of valuing of who we are based on the desires of others, even the ones which seem positive.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:38 PM on January 21, 2017 [21 favorites]


Something that strikes me is that Jay himself seems to seek the same approval. You don't get that kind of body by accident; it takes some serious commitment. He's shirtless in most of his videos, and the comments are all mostly along the lines of 'omg you're so hot!' I don't know Jay specifically, but I know plenty of "Jays" - guys who's own self-worth seem based in part on seeking constant reassurance that they are hot and desirable.

I don't mean this to negate any of the above criticisms, but rather to add another layer of complexity.
posted by kanewai at 4:39 PM on January 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Kanewai, what you're saying is a version of "but, patriarchy hurts men, too!" It's not a "layer of complexity" that the women missed; it's a derail.
Why I don't say "But patriarchy hurts men, too"
Geek Feminism: "Patriarchy hurts men, too"
And
Yes, it's thin privilege even if you worked for it
posted by wonton endangerment at 5:57 PM on January 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Hehe this is great.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:12 PM on January 21, 2017


the thorn bushes have roses,

I found your response helpful, thanks engaging my comments in good faith.
posted by Telf at 6:18 PM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


wonton endangerment,

Sorry, I didn't realize you were the OP until just now. I didn't mean for you to feel that I was insulting the quality of your FPP, I also understand that this isn't the issue at hand. That is a separate apology in case your felt personally offended by my opening comment. Also, preemptive apology if the assumption that I should apologize to you, or me thinking that you care about my apology is some sort of perceived insult in its own right. It never feels nice to have a negative first comment in an FPP.

Regarding the other parts of the conversation, I think maybe we're talking past each other. I am not trying to invalidate your opinions with that comment.

For the the health of the thread, I'll bow out. I'm not sure if you wanted me to respond to any of your comments, I don't suspect that would further the conversation in a meaningful way. Not sure if the tone of this comment comes off as a smarmy, mansplain-y tactic. I think this is a situation where anymore writing will just cement people's opinions.
posted by Telf at 6:37 PM on January 21, 2017


After reading the Bustle article and a fawning article it references, I don't know who the intended audience for Jay's body positive YouTube blog is. I don't have any disagreements with the author that fat women don't owe this guy anything even attention, but I do think if men (especially younger men) are finding his videos he might be doing THEM a real service . It can take a lot of effort to undo all the programming done by society, and not feel guilty or think that you're wrong or there's something wrong with you for liking someone(s) you're not "supposed to". More men speaking honestly and realistically to each other is a good thing.

I was at a panel where one of the speakers was a plus sized sex worker who said that "guilt-ridden men who couldn't think of being seen with a fat woman" paid her college tuition. It's a really fucked up situation that fat people can be so dehumanized in this country that even people who are attracted to them might think to sever their libido from their hearts and only pursue them illicitly.
posted by elr at 6:46 PM on January 21, 2017 [12 favorites]


Can't you have both without it being a brawl? Jeez- if you keep telling people not to say nice things to you they will stop. And I know it feels condescending, but take it in the spirit it's intended and move along.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 9:29 PM on January 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


And I am not dismissing the way the world works. I have been 100 lbs and I have been 200 Lbs. I was equally anxious at both extremes. That was my problem, not what other people think.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 9:38 PM on January 21, 2017


Jeez- if you keep telling people not to say nice things to you they will stop.

Once again, many of us do not consider "I want to have sex with you" to be a nice thing to hear. This is also the reason that catcalling is wrong. It's okay to tell someone you think they're sexy only if you know that they're going to be pleased to hear it. It is not an acceptable thing to say to strangers. Something being a nice thing to say is not dependent only on the vocabulary used--it's also based on who hears it and whether it's a welcome message.

If someone fails to care whether the person they're "saying nice things to" is going to feel good upon hearing them, then they are not, in fact, nice.
posted by Sequence at 9:46 PM on January 21, 2017 [19 favorites]


But he thinks that people WILL be happy to hear it. Whether or not everyone is- it is intended in a good way. Again, I have been a woman on this planet too. Unwanted attention is certainly something I experienced. A lot. About an hour ago in fact.There are plenty of men who say nasty, ugly shit to women. Shouldn't we encourage someone who is at least trying not to be a jerk?

He did not direct this at her- she chose to engage.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 10:25 PM on January 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


He did not direct this at her- she chose to engage.

This seems a problematic statement. You would never say this if the statement were negative i.e. Trump made fun of a disabled person. That comment wasn't directed at all other disabled people, they just chose to engage?

But because it's benevolent, she shouldn't respond? Come on. He was talking about plus size women. She identifies as plus size. Therefore, she has a right to an opinion on the subject.

But he thinks that people WILL be happy to hear it.

Well, I do believe she is trying, in this article, to disavow him if that notion.
posted by greermahoney at 11:11 PM on January 21, 2017 [7 favorites]


Telling fat women that we should be happy with what we get and then saying that if we're not appropriately happy that men will stop being nice to us is so gross. Implying that we should be prepared to face negative consequences if we don't gush over every man who tells us in so many words that he'd hit that even though most men find us disgusting is...problematic.

It's totally fine with me if dudes want to express their attraction to fat women to each other or in respectful, one on one ways to a woman (just not, like, random ladies on the street trying to go about their day). Men are harmed by society's insistence on a very narrow and nearly impossible to attain definition of beauty right alongside women. I think it's for the good that men who prefer fat women are speaking up and helping other men feel free to do the same.

I don't think anyone here is arguing that Jay should STFU but we're allowed to be annoyed that it's such a special thing that a guy admits to appreciating "plus size" women. This whole white knight thing, like we should be grateful about it, is ridiculous, it's bullshit that women's self esteem should depend on whether men find us fuckable. (Needless to say, as a lesbian I especially don't give a fuck what men think about my body.) To the women here who appreciate the idea that men find you attractive: great! But not everyone needs/wants that validation in this particular way.

There's a difference between a sincere compliment from someone you know—someone you trust and have reason to care what they think or you—and having a stranger's opinion of your body forced upon you. Metafilter has discussed that extensively and I think most people can see the difference between those two things. Men online talking about how much they appreciate fat women aren't the latter but they also aren't the former. We should be able to choose to engage. That's all that's being expressed here and I find it really odd that there's any controversy in that.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:08 AM on January 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


I think the intended audience is actually important here (and yeah, I think intention is also important, despite its tendency to derail a conversation). It was kind of on my mind when I was writing out my last comment, but within the messy topic of body acceptance, fatness and objectification is also acceptance of one's preferences. The article is worded as "Dear hot guys..." but it also functions as "Hey, fat women, you can be like me and DGAF what men think! Even the ones you find attractive!" Similarly, Jay's video blog is not necessarily directed at fat women, but functions more like "Hey, fat-haters, I like fat women!" and "People who like fat women, you're not alone!"

And, I see myself in both Amanda's article and Jay's videos. I'm not inclined to shower Jay with praise or give him cookies (btw, I don't really think he's expecting these things... I think his videos are just hitting a nerve in such a way that the author and many commenters in this thread are reminded of those guys who are like that). But I also see where Jay is coming from. I've occasionally seen the most viscerally disgusting, hate-filled things that some women say about short men, and then I'll see short men being super bitter and insecure about their height. It just makes me want to go "No!! I like short guys! Short guys are awesome!!" I'm well aware that short guys don't need my validation. It's more that I want to send the message to my peers, or to people in general, "Scuse me, but please do not make short guys feel bad, because I like them, and it should be normal for me to like them!"

I totally get that between men saying fat women are fugly and men saying fat women are sexy, it just feeds into this cycle of objectification and judgement of women's bodies. And I also get that, there are allies who want cookies for when they think they're saying a nice thing, or they'll say a thing they think is nice and it ends up coming off as fetishizing or patronizing. Ideally, we should all just stop caring about height/weight/etc and let our preferences form from a blank slate instead of being imprinted by culture. But realistically, that's not going to happen. It's as unrealistic as expecting "color-blindness" to become a thing (I'm going to kick myself later for making this analogy but it's the best I can think of at the moment). What I mean is, if you take away men saying "fat women are sexy" then you STILL have fat-haters saying "fat women are ugly." And it's a significantly harder battle if you only have fat-haters vs. fat people. After all, fat-haters probably won't give much heed to fat people, but they might listen to an athletic guy, and that's a legit function that privileged allies serve. It should not, by any means, be the spotlight of the overall discussion on an issue--allies exist as a supplement to the voices of the underprivileged group. There are probably better ways for allies to voice their opinions--ways that don't come off as objectifying or patronizing--though I'm going to guess this is tricky because the subject of fatness and body acceptance is inextricably tied with attraction and beauty.

Like, personally I'm not super bothered by variations of "I think fat women are sexy," but evidently others are bothered by it. So, maybe it would be helpful not just to say "no, this is a bad thing to say" but to give an example of what a good thing to say is? Is it "I sympathize with fat women--you guys have it hard!" Or "Fat-haters, shut up, you're awful!" or... what?
posted by picklenickle at 12:31 AM on January 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I don't think there's a controversy, but I just feel like I'm somehow being told that I feel "wrong" things and that I should be different. I get that it's not a great thing to not 100% love yourself and need to rely on external validation, but a lot of us are flawed and sometimes weak. I'm not sure what the solution here is, because while I understand Amanda's point, I also don't necessarily agree with it personally - I hope I'm wording that correctly. To be clear, I'm not disagreeing with her *feelings* on the matter, obviously her feelings are valid, but it's not a universal feeling. She doesn't need/want the approval of that man, but if someone else does need/want it, we can't look down on them and say "well, you're wrong for feeling that way, because you don't need someone else to validate yourself".

I really wish that I didn't seek the approval of anyone, my life would seriously be so much easier. I have ADHD and I absolutely cannot motivate myself to do anything at all if I'm not getting a pat on the head or some type of external motivator to make me do it. Likewise, if I didn't worry about what other people thought about me, I probably would get lazy with the hygiene and flossing etc, because me loving myself does not at all motivate me, uuuuugh. It sucks.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 2:19 AM on January 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


I don't think Amanda or anyone here was looking down on people who want that type of approval. Are you able to point out what parts make you think she is?
posted by harriet vane at 3:25 AM on January 22, 2017


While not "looking down on," this comment is pretty damning about the need for approval.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:23 AM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was reacting to the general vibe of the comments here, not really to any specific comments, just the overall message that I was taking from the thread. In a perfect world I wouldn't need someone else to tell me I was beautiful, and Jay wouldn't need to tell women that he finds them beautiful because they would already know that. I just haven't yet reached that space, most of my friends were self deprecating and NOT loving their curves. If you're confident and you have a good sense of self worth, it must feel dumb and patronizing to have someone say "fat girls are beautiful", because in your mind, duh, of course they are. But another girl might have a completely different reaction, it might actually make her appreciate herself. If someone else thinks I'm beautiful, then maybe I really am? Then you become that confident woman that gets annoyed at men stating the obvious on Youtube :)
posted by Hazelsmrf at 4:36 AM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


harriet: I don't think Amanda or anyone here was looking down on people who want that type of approval. Are you able to point out what parts make you think she is?


It's implicit in the language throughout this whole thread.

Comments from people who are more or less in line with the article:

The world does benefit from women taking such assumptions to task, and asserting their own rights to determine the worth of their bodies.

...many of us do feel uncomfortable...

Of course fat women fucking care about that,

...don't expect fat women to be grateful for that.

As long as male approval and attention are prioritized, if not outright fetishized, to the degree they are today, women will still be forced to either justify their desire for it or explain why their lack of desire for it is not materially equivalent to misandry.

...this craving for approval is a learned thing which can actually harm us.

Telling fat women that we should be happy with what we get and then saying that if we're not appropriately happy that men will stop being nice to us is so gross.



vs, comments that are going against the grain of this thread:

I don't find it gross if someone finds me attractive if that's all it is,

...as much as self-worth and self-confidence are important, I don't think I can completely decouple these things from a desire to be desired sexually by others

That hasn't been my experience, and so viewed through my lens...

I don't have any disagreements with the author that fat women don't owe this guy anything even attention, but...

Like, personally I'm not super bothered by variations of "I think fat women are sexy,"...

That was my problem, not what other people think.


In the former, there is a lot of "us" "we" "fat women feel that..." and it's like, excuse me! Please speak for yourself, not for me! And just like you wouldn't want to be told to be grateful for this guy's video, don't tell me how I should feel about it either.
posted by picklenickle at 4:41 AM on January 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I am personally tired of even being in the mandatory Fuckability Pageant , which all women are enrolled in at birth, and in which all men are judges, even if this particular judge might give me a high score. I just want to be a person instead of a collection of attributes that do or do not give any random man a boner.
posted by emjaybee at 5:44 AM on January 22, 2017 [26 favorites]


I think a lot of the criticism here is absolutely spot-on, but Jay's videos are the smallest of small potatoes in the constant barrage telling us that women should be primarily judged by the way they look. I just watched Stephen Colbert's coverage of the inauguration, and I was struck by the attention he gave to the outfits worn by Melania Trump and Kellyanne Conway. He did make fun of Trump's faux pas in wearing an excessively-long tie, but that was more of a "you had one job" sort of dig. In contrast, the women's outfits had to be new, striking, elegant, feminine, and goodness knows how many other adjectives. He's supposed to be one of the good guys - how do we get it across that the whole "you are bad at being a woman" message is inherently toxic?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:41 AM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I am bad at being a woman. I am AMAZING at being a person. And persons - wear clothes. And want to be loved/desired/approved of. No matter what the gender, no matter what the body confirmation. Until the world changes radically (as it seems to just like going back and forth like one of those weird cat clocks) I personally will be enjoying it when people say nice things to me. Even when they just want to bang me.

BTW- boys that want to bang you can be made to do things for you. Just saying. And you don't have to - the promise is more often more than enough.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 8:02 AM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm more in emjaybee camp of generalized humanism; I didn't find this piece particularly insightful or interesting, and it's not about 'a woman being wrong about anything' any more than, at least to me, in the year 2017, the position 'gosh, Western capitalist culture sure is particularly shallow and commodifies sexuality to an amazing degree' is pretty much like saying 'I went outside and saw concrete.'

Cool. You have eyes.
posted by mrdaneri at 8:03 AM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


BTW- boys that want to bang you can be made to do things for you. Just saying. And you don't have to - the promise is more often more than enough.

I'm glad you've never had a boy who wanted to bang you decide that he was the only one who got to bang you and that he would do it whether you wanted him to or not. I hope you never have to experience that.
posted by Etrigan at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


Picklenickle, it's not operating on good faith to pull contextless quotes to prove your point. Which I believe is "everyone should speak for themselves because some of us do care what men think about us" and the quote you used of mine to prove that point was agreeing with you that of course some women care. If you want to make the point that everyone should speak for themselves, don't put words in people's mouths just because you feel like anyone who disagrees with you must be judging you. My entire last comment was making the point that we should all be allowed whether to engage in the kind of compliment Jay is giving.

Now that this thread seems to be talking about how little this matters in the scheme of overall misogyny and talking about it is pointless, I'm going to bow out because that's the epitome of someone trying to tell others how to feel and I don't have the energy for that bullshit.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


When I say self-objectification harms us, I'm referencing a variety of studies on the area in psychology. NYU has an outline of some of the basic effects that have been studied, and here's a sociological approach to the same issues.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:57 PM on January 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Etrigan, i never had that experience but I did have one that tried to end my life because I decided he couldn't any more.

I'm not in this to win the oppression olympics. Sadly, everyone here can probably say something similar about the way the patriarchy fucks us all over.

I am merely presenting my point of view on how I have dealt with it. Whether it's "healthy" as presented to us by a male dominated medical establishment, or "healed" or "well adjusted" is not my problem.

My problem is can I enjoy my life without taking every thing other people say about who I should be and obsessing over it because I am not.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


wow. many, many amazing comments. thank you wonton endangerment for posting this article - both the article and the discussion made mine (male bodied person) and my roommate (female bodied person) nights.

I find that she humanized Jay, even as she disagreed with his need to state his obvious preference, powerful.

I have dated conventionally attractive people (both genders) who needed my approval and it DROVE. ME. MAD. Beauty is found within! "Do you feel beautiful?" would be my reply. Amanda, clearly, feels beautiful in her body. That is attractive. Not because she has a larger body (bias: I find comfort in being around people with larger bodies, especially women - hey, I like feeling safe. Don't you?), but because as other people have talked about, if she's at a place where she finds herself beautiful, she's done some looking inward.

Jay's perspective reads, to me, as the same well-intentioned condescending "you are so hot/good looking/handsome/adjectives I would never use to describe myself" I get. He means well. But I find that nature of dialogue, about approval of bodies, really disturbing. That conditioning about bodies and what they should look like is in both genders to some degree but it is weaponized against women, and as we all know, a nice person can hold a weapon and still hurt people with it. By promoting this one body type as incredibly beautiful, Jay just inadvertently insulted all the other female bodied people who looked at his 'body positive' channel and found a message that missed the point of body positivity.

Another way I read Jay's perspective is I substituted 'skin color' for body type and holy shit did his channel suddenly sound not positive at all and very racist. Which means to me, that the message I think he intended to get across - a positive one promoting that people of all bodies should be beautiful, especially the marginalized ones like Amanda's - gets lost in the murky subtext of what he DIDN'T say at that point.

Amanda's message is ACTUALLY body positive. Do whatever you have to do, as a person, to feel beautiful with who you see in the mirror. I love it! More of that please, and less bros with YouTube channels promoting one body over another. The comments about being able to hear this from people you know vs. people you don't I feel powerfully about; Jay's comments come across as patronizing because he doesn't actually TALK about any larger female people he knows, he just goes on and on about this archetype of beauty in his mind. That's fetishization! That's cool that folds and cellulite are your kinks on a person Jay, but have you looked at your savior complex recently?

LuckyMonkey, your comment about getting boys to do what you want for the potential of sexy relations is a derail from the topic at hand.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 9:46 PM on January 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I think people are reading more criticism of the need for approval into this conversation than is actually present. Every woman has felt the pressure to meet society's idea of attractiveness; some of us have felt the relief and pride that comes from receiving that approval after we've spent a lot of time, money, and/or mental energy on trying to meet that standard; there's overlap with the group of women who've despaired of ever meeting it; there are also women who don't realise how much effort they put into maintaining that approval. Plus all sorts of other varieties of care-factor and ability to achieve the impossible standard, and then it all varies over time and stage of life anyway.

The women who say they don't want that approval know exactly where you're coming from, Hazelsmrf, because they've been there too. It's just that some of us are trying to untangle ourselves from that constructed need, and there aren't many templates for us to follow. We have to discuss it on blogs and social media to even begin to figure it out, and if we discover something that seems to work (eg asking well-intentioned guys to keep their sexual preferences on a need-to-know basis) we have to share it in case it helps someone else.

But people working on Thing A they want to improve in themselves, for the sake of their own mental health, isn't a rebuke to anyone not working on Thing A. Maybe they're already busy with Thing B, or Project C, or just trying to survive the day with bills paid & the kids fed. Even if they know that Thing A isn't great, doesn't mean it's their top priority.

I try not to base my sense of self-worth on the approval of hot guys. Or any guy. But I've done it before, I'll probably do it again in the future, because I've got Projects C and D taking up my mental space and eh, I'm only human in a society that makes it difficult to be a fully self-actualised being :) I just find it helpful to hear from women who are further down that path than I am, to pick up any good tips for feeling better next time I'm confronted with the issue. If I'm very lucky, they'll have solved the problem before it gets to the top of my to-do list and I can just copy whatever they did :)
posted by harriet vane at 4:54 AM on January 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


« Older Lesser known heroes of WWII   |   Pressure!! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments