Oh for God’s sake, Jessica Simpson is not freaking “fat”

Let me first say that I generally object to all dissections of famous people’s weight gains and losses. I have to be realistic and say that one hand, this sort of thing is inevitable, but on the other hand – maybe if we had a slightly more inclusive beauty standard, it wouldn’t happen so often.

I am personally really tired of the slightly androgynous, petite, zero jiggle beauty standard that is currently meant to define “classy” or “fashionable.” I’m not saying that there aren’t women who totally rock that look – but come on. Some people just shouldn’t try to fit into that mould to begin with, but are told that they have to. The truth is, it doesn’t work for everyone, and its exclusivity doesn’t make it more appealing, just boring, because people who ought to know better are nattering on about how fabulous it is. At this point, it’s like hearing some twelve-year-old talk about how “awesome” Nickelback are. It’s been done, over and over again. If I was twelve, I would have been right there too. But I’m not twelve, and society must mature with me, dammit.

You know what? I hated it when Angelina Jolie was shown as having dropped at least a size in “Wanted.” It. Didn’t. Work. For. Her. Notice, I’m not calling her a “waif” or sneering about how she should have eaten a cheeseburger. What I am saying is that with her face and body structure, or, actually, divinely-inspired architecture, you need a little oomph and fat. If your body is not meant to weight 120 pounds, it will cry out in protest. And the strain will be visible to all.

I’m not even going to attempt to dig into all of the class and race issues surrounding body weight that we all carry around in our collective beauty culture. I still remember how Cindy Crawford was quoted at being amazed, and not in an especially positive way, that J. Lo could flaunt her decently sized butt like she did. Am not saying that Cindy’s racist (I kind of heart Cindy), but how long is it going to take people to catch on that, hey, it’s not a one-size-fits-all, and not everyone finds the skinny, granite-like supermodel ass attractive, and that it’s OK?

I know what many of you are going to say – “but Natalia, why not do away with beauty standards altogether?”

I say, fat (haw haw) chance. As my friend Octogalore recently said – we’re human beings, not celestial beings. We inhabit bodies, at least on this here good earth. And we react to each other’s bodies.

Now, I have felt the desire to do away with beauty standards. To do away with beauty. This desire comes and goes and is – surprisingly? I think not – connected to depression. Depression, I believe, often inspires a curious visual asceticism. You respond to colours differently. You can go days without noticing, say, particularly good weather, the sunbeams slanting just so through the window. You don’t even have the energy to wash your damn hair – and when you do, the end result doesn’t delight you. You search for split ends or complain about roots coming in. You don’t feel right in your body. And those feelings are displaced on everything around you.

Of course, beauty standards do not comprise all that is joyful in this world. Beauty standards can kill people. Many times, they go hand-in-hand with classism and misogyny: the foot-binding (I’m so rich, my wife doesn’t need to walk!), the tightly-laced corsets, the tanning beds (I just flew in from the Maldives!), the toxic bleaching creams, and so on. I wish that every person had the time to examine every beauty ritual that he or she participates in, and truly decides whether or not it’s right for them, or if it’s time to move on.

I don’t think we can ever eliminate judgment on looks from our culture. I think any attempts to do that are whacked-out, because if you think that waxing is a denial of our basic human nature – then guess what, so is saying that “we should never respond to each other visually, ever.” We will respond to each other visually. And we will police each other. We will lean across the table and go, “OMIGOD, what in the nine circles of the Inferno is this person wearing?”

But, maybe if we gain a little perspective, we will realize that this sort of judgment itself is a relative thing that can never quite be finite in its nature. That vanity is just that, vanity. And that OMIGOD SHE GAINED FIVE POUNTS SHE’S SOOOO FAT thing is just another variable.

P.S. Having said all that – is it just me, or are those jeans simply bad?

31 thoughts on “Oh for God’s sake, Jessica Simpson is not freaking “fat”

  1. Yeah, those jeans are bad. High-waist pants rarely work, and when you add those scoop pockets…not flattering.

  2. The jeans are bad. BAD.
    Really enjoyed this post. My whole perspective changed when I realized I simply shouldn’t try and dress like a size zero tween – I should dress to fit my curves and the little plump I have. I should dress like a woman! I’ve felt much better since coming to that realization…

  3. The jeans are, in fact, That Bad.

    didn’t Angelina Jolie (to be kinda shallow and gossipy for a moment) drop a size in Wanted cuz her mom had just died and she was depressed? I seem to remember hearing that somewhere; for sure I heard that one reason she wanted to do Wanted (heh) was because she wanted something fast, action-packed, physically intense but dramatically unchallenging to take her mind off things.

  4. I’m surprised, Natalia, that you identify as feminist.

    For your information, not all people who want beauty standards to disappear are uber-depressed freaks, Some of us want actual equality with men. In this century.

    Please don’t tell me you didn’t realize that beauty standards hurt women worse than men.

    You and that Octogalore chick shouldn’t be claiming the feminist label. Octogalore’s pictures on the sidebar tell me everything I need to know (showing off your boobs is so! very! empowering!) and as for you, you seem like a girl who got into feminism because you can feel superior to other women in it. People probably compare you favorably to “butch feminazis” and you probably love it.

    Your Non-Fan in California.

  5. Yeah, those jeans are hardly flattering, but they do look rather comfy. Heck, I’d wear them, and I’m considerably ‘plumper’ than Simpson. And my career is considerably less hung up on my looks.

  6. Those jeans are bad. No argument there.

    Great post. I want to ask one thing, do you think that saying someone “isn’t fat” is just as judgmental and damaging as taunting someone for being fat? It just feels to me another way to judge someone where it isn’t our place to judge. Your whole post was beautiful and spoke well of body acceptance, but I really feel that saying someone “isn’t fat” is just another way of judging someone. I am so not trying to be hostile or anything, b/c I read and respect your work greatly, it is just that the title of this post kind of made me cringe just a little. If Jessica is happy, her fatness or lack thereof isn’t ours to evaluate.

    But the rest of the post, love it. Even if I too am judging those pants. HA.

  7. Heh-heh, wait til you all are 40 and have had your tummies stretched by pregnancy. High-waisted jeans act like zip-up girdles and neatly tuck-in all that flabby stuff you need to be a comfy coach for kids.

    This low-rise phenom is murder on tummies like mine. It’s worse than the muffin-effect, it’s like the muffin tin was tilted in the oven and spills over to one side.

    That said, when one reaches the post-40 tummy syndrome, one is very careful about such scoop pockets, and wearing tiger belts that emphasize the lack of waistline. 🙂

  8. Ouyang – well, as I mentioned in my post, we all do judge each other and that part is pretty natural. We look at each other’s bodies, we evaluate them, and we form an opinion. There is a philosophy that we should all keep our opinions to ourselves, but I don’t think that opinion in and of itself is the problem here.

    I think that the problem is joyless rigidity, combined with a generous sprinkling of misogyny on top (because, let’s face it, whose entire worth is pretty regularly evaluated solely on looks alone? Not the men’s).

    Kinzi – you’re right, I actually recently published a fashion piece with exactly those sentiments – that low waists just don’t do moms any favours! I think high-waisted jeans can be awesome looking if they are nice, though I personally just don’t feel comfortable wearing them. I think I look weird.

  9. Well, hello there, “Claire Fisher” – sad to see this little diatribe from a fellow Six Feet Under fan.

    First of all, there is nothing “freakish” about depression. Neither did I make blanket statements – I was talking about myself. Can I extrapolate from this example? Sure, I can. Yeah, I think some people who treat notions of beauty as some sort of anathema are pretty depressed. This doesn’t just go for physical beauty.

    Nice slut-shaming of Octo you have going on there. Really rather classic. Did you even bother reading your blog or did you go “OMG CLEAVAGE” and run away screaming? You sound a bit like one of those dudes who preach fire and brimstone from the pulpit but honestly just can’t contain their willies in their pants. Good show.

    As for me – I actually got into feminism because there was free beer involved. There, see! You found me out! Whatever shall I do with myself now?

    Thanks for clarifying that you are, in fact, a “non-fan.” Because I was really confused. “Does she love me?” I wondered. “Does she love me and is too afraid to say it?” I was going to put on some Simon & Garfunkel and brood about the whole thing, so you really did me a favour there.

    Run along now.

  10. The Arabian Desert produces the most beautifully curvaceous and shapely women. We do not understand why the infidels prefer their women to look like malnourished goats.
    In Arabia we like our women with some meat on them we feed them the premium beef.

  11. I agree with Claire. I took one look at Octo’s picture and I knew everything from her personality to her beliefs and principles. Truly, it is a revealing photo. Personally, I think it’s borderline ‘adult content’.

    Personally, I’m a feminist cos guys, like, really dig that?

  12. I completely agree, I’ve never found that ‘perfect body’ thing very appealing. I find that it’s the little individualities about a person that truly makes them beautiful

  13. Well..I guess that leaves me out of the loop as per being a feminist…I don’t drink any alcohol. Well, that..and that “having a penis” thang. 😛

    Actually, to be fair with Jessica Simpson, I kinda think she’s hot, in a BBW sort of way. Way too conservative in philosophy and approach for me, though. And playing Daisy Duke in the last movie version of The Dukes of Hazzard (sorry, but Catherine Bach will always rule!!!) really spoiled any residual lust I could have had for her.

    Ashlee’s slightly hotter, IMV.

    But yeah….there’s really no such thing, in my book, as “the perfect body”; only what individual persons find “perfect” in their own bodies. Only consideration should be a person’s health in judging how they treat their bodies…otherwise, to each his or her own.

    High-waisted jeans do go well with blouses like the one Jessica’s wearing..but otherwise, they are Teh FAIL. If anything, Jess should go the other way and try out those hipster low-mast jeans….she certainly has the butt for it. (Sorry, Natalia….residual man-think taking over thongly..err, briefly. 😉


  14. “IMV” should be “IMO”. Sorry.

    And to “Claire”: Feminist Anonymist already owns the stalking rights here…quit cutting in on her territory.

    Natalia and Octoglalore are more feminist than you ever will be. Get a clue and a grip.


  15. I apologize Natalia. I wasn’t trying to troll. I was trying to mull something over in my head, and had to ask. I got your point totally. I too catch myself making those same comments, and cringing afterward. I think there is good intention in saying “x isn’t fat!”. I in no way meant that anyone should keep their opinions to themselves, least of all you. I may have missed a point. Please accept my apologies if I offended you.

  16. Come on people, it’s pretty clear who Claire is, no? Clearly, a dude attempting to decimate the feminist movement!

    First, let’s carve out everyone who’s realistic about the fact (yup, fact) that beauty standards exist. Even those who acknowledge that they should be more inclusive and that they prety on women. Outta the movement!

    Next, anyone who, amongst pics of her in jeans and sneakers with a toddler or in baggy cargo shorts and sturdy sandals in the rain, has one partial bathing suit negative up, needs to go too!

    Feminist content discussed on sites? Irrelevant! Off with their heads!

    Clearly, “Claire” is a troll, likely dispatched by Limbaugh or Schlafly, to attempt to impose external rules on the feminist movement to cut its ranks and thereby lessen its already limited power.

    Anyway, as to the post:

    — the jeans are bad. I agree with Anthony on the low waisted option. Jessica, even at a higher weight, has a tight stomach and would do better with this look.

    — Ouyang Dan: I don’t think saying someone isn’t fat is contradictory with believing there shouldn’t be a stigma to being fat. It’s factual that Jessica is not fat in the pictures shown, even at her higher weight. That by no means indicates that Natalia is going further to say she should be criticized if she were indeed fat. Just that: she isn’t.

    — Finally, regarding the comment section and the notes about being 40+ meaning that you are going to inevitably have various figure flaws. I’m calling ageism there. True, metabolism slows. But it’s by no means inevitable that being over 40 means either having a muffin top (and by that I am not stating that having a muffin top is bad, just that it is not inevitable) or dieting strenuously.

  17. My mom has a perfect stomach at 50, after two babies and no diets whatsoever (she works out, but not much), but everyone always tells me it’s “a fluke.”

    I think it’s very obviously genes, since all of her sisters never had to work much with their bodies either (well, one of my aunts is a personal trainer – but even so, she’s always the first to admit how comparatively easy it is for her to stay in shape).

  18. The thing is, though, that age isn’t the bogeyman we’re told. Most people w/o great metabolisms do have to work out to have good bodies. For every decade after ones 20s, it’s just an extra 100 calories a day difference — so basically in your 50s, to maintain a 20-something weight it just means cutting out one muffin a day or doing another half hour of exercise. That’s not a huge difference unless it creeps up on you, and it doesn’t typically require an unhealthily low-cal diet or really strict exercise regime.

    Not that anyone has to maintain a 20-something weight or should, just saying age isn’t some kind of inevitable fat machine.

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