2:41 pm - 03/30/2014

Links Round Up: Week Ending 28 March 2014

Hi and welcome to the latest installment of our Links Round Up. For folks who don't know, the LRU is a compilation of items from the past week that may be of interest to VPers and is intended to broaden the kinds of conversations we have here.

To submit articles for next week's round-up, e-mail vpteam@vaginapagina.com. If you have additional articles you'd like folks to know about this week, feel free to comment directly to this post.

As a reminder, in lieu of trigger warnings, I use keywords describing the themes of the piece. Please skim these before deciding to read the excerpt or click through for the full article. Outside sources are not safe spaces, and mainstream sources' comments should almost always be avoided. The links I highlight don't necessarily reflect VP's views, or even my own, for that matter.

This week's round-up includes: on the idea of a "weight problem," young adult heroines and body descriptions, and normalizing obesity.

  1. My Weight Problem Isn’t My Weight by Issa at Love, Live, Grow (Keywords: weight, body shaming, weight stigma)
    I got to thinking, what is a “weight problem”? We hear that phrase a lot. “I have a weight problem.” “I have a problem with my weight.” “My weight has always been a problem.”

    Do I have a weight problem?

    Well, yes.

    I weigh what I do, and because of that I have a few problems.

  2. Must Every YA Action Heroine Be Petite? by Julieanne Ross at The Atlantic (Keywords: young adult literature, body image, gender norms, body shaming)
    When it comes to recent young adult sci-fi and fantasy literature, this is typical. Divergent is just one in a spate of recent young adult novels—three of which saw big-budget film adaptations in 2013—to emphasize the diminutive stature of its main character.

  3. Normalizing Obesity by Ragen Chastain at Dances with Fat (Keywords: body shaming, weight stigma, weight loss)
    The hypothesis that Dame Davies seems to be working under, of course without a shred of evidence, is that fat people will all get thin if we never see anyone (including a mannequin) who looks like us shown in a positive light.

As always feel free to share your thoughts on any of these articles, along with whatever you've been reading or writing this week!
claire_chan Let's end weight stigma promptly!30th-Mar-2014 10:29 pm (UTC)
I most liked the third link, but now I'll check the other two since the third one was of such quality.

Tehe, the woman illustrating the YA article looks like my Public Speaking teacher!
Why are YA heroines nearly invariably portrayed as diminutive? ...it does make smaller people feel a bit better about their own sizes they can't control.

The first article: that's pure marketing - demean potential customers' appearance so they'll be more inclined to purchase items to make "the problem lesser" - even if there is no actual problem.
I have a problem with clothing manufacturers who don’t want to produce clothes in my size.
YES! YES! YES! It was most horrible in China. The girls I was with begged me to go shopping with them. Nothing fit, as I am more Russian than Chinese in origin, so I am of a more towering height and hip width than standard Chinese clothes. Some salespeople really tried to get me to buy their wares, though.
I have a problem with people who give me dirty looks when I dare to eat in public.
The person with whom I ate lunch on Monday looked down on my Pacman eating style. I reported this to my sister who told me to get away from him, at the very least not to date him since it came across to her as his controlling my dietary habits. It took until this morning to completely separate yet still maintain reasonable social ties. For, you know, I'm positively inclined towards the eastern European culture, too...
fallconsmate 31st-Mar-2014 12:08 am (UTC)
here's another thing to think about:

fat people have health problems...because they put off going to see a physician because they DO NOT WANT TO BE SHAMED ABOUT THEIR WEIGHT.

i was put INTO a health crisis by an endocrinologist who kept pushing weight loss surgery at me, and missed the bad liver enzymes tests that went on FOR A YEAR despite me complaining that i had itching SO BAD that i wanted to tear my skin off and that i was starting to have yellowing skin and eyes...until i showed him in a medical journal's website that this can be signs of liver problems caused by statin use (to bring down cholesterol). i spent 5 days in the hospital over that.

he totally ignored all that RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM because i weigh "too much". he also ignored the fact that one of the side effects for diabetes medications, ALL of them? weight gain. instead he wanted me to undergo a surgery that mutilates one's internal organs in search of weight loss. and he pushed it HARD every time i visited him without my husband present. it's ridiculous that in this day and age i would have to hide behind my husband to get medical care.

i have pain in both my shoulders now, and i've lost the range of movement to the point that it HURTS to shampoo my own hair. raising my arms entirely straight is impossible. but i won't go in to the doctor because i do not want it to become an issue of my weight.

i'm borderline buliemic. if i get a panic attack (and i do) the first thing i want to do is punish my own body and that's the FASTEST way to punish it. *sighs* this is not an easy life.
eavanmoore 31st-Mar-2014 04:13 am (UTC)
I appreciated Julianne Ross's piece; she is quite right that "slender" is too common among YA heroines in general and those blessed with film adaptations in particular. I would have liked her to demonstrate broader knowledge of the YA genre, though; Karen Healey's Guardian of the Dead featured a non-skinny heroine and it would have been nice to see that mentioned as an example of positive representation.

Edited to add: Ellie Spencer does martial arts in a fairly action-packed novel, so I think she qualifies as a "strong female character" by the definition used by JR. But I also wish JR were not so quick to fall in line with the idea of a "strong female character" as someone physically powerful.

Edited at 2014-03-31 04:17 am (UTC)
jocelina 31st-Mar-2014 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for mentioning Guardian of the Dead! I hadn't heard of that, and, based on the description on Amazon (and what you said about it here) I'm eager to check it out now.
lurkerwisp 31st-Mar-2014 03:05 pm (UTC)
I know they're not really recent, but I remember Tamora Pierce's YA heroines as having more variety in size too - especially her younger ones from the Circle of Magic series. Tris and Daja are definitely strong female characters, and definitely not described as small.
mycorrhizoid 1st-Apr-2014 12:03 am (UTC)
I have to disagree with the second article.

Most of the books she mentions are dystopian (granted, it's the craze right now) and feature street urchin heroines who are quite likely malnourished. In that specific context, it makes sense for them to be small.

I also interpreted the "Lena Beana" nickname to mean she was tall and skinny . . .

I agree that books should "actually reflect and affirm the diversity of the young readers who idolize them," but at the same time I wouldn't necessarily look to the fantasy genre for this type of development. Fantasy is often about the story itself and characterization/description tend to be shallow and often glossed over. Most of the time I'd prefer to decide what they look like myself anyway.

P.S. Besides Circle of Magic which has already been mentioned, The Girl of Fire and Thorns also featured a not-small heroine.
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