Talking About Weight In Black And White

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The Huffington Post's Hannah Seligson published an interesting piece today on the issue of women — particularly those in the public eye — and their weight.


Seligson argues that culturally, we engage in a dizzying pas de deux when talking about weight, moving between "ogling over rail-thin models" and "overcompensating with a bizarre brand of body empowerment that seems gratuitous."

In some ways, our cultural dialogue about weight resembles yo-yo dieting. On one hand we indulge our appetite to talk about weight, ad-nauseum, and then loudly and all too conspicuously applaud women, like [Jennifer] Hudson, who aren't a size two.

Seligson goes on and calls out Vogue editor Anna Wintour for describing March cover girl Jennifer Hudson as "...a style icon whose happiness in her own skin is something we can draw strength from." While we agree with Seligson's argument, what she doesn't address is the fact that the media's new lovefest with "normal"-looking women seems to be specific to women of color...or women over 50, a focus which feels unsettlingly patronizing, at least to us.

Take Glamour editor Cindi Leive's March letter from the editor, which featured a prominent picture of Jennifer Hudson in her role as Effie in Dreamgirls. Citing Hudson and Ugly Betty's America Ferrera, Leive wrote: was such a pleasure to turn on the Golden Globes and watch as one after another, women with all manner of bodies took the stage to claim their awards.

Are we the only ones not only sick of the cultural obsession with weight but with magazines applauding the normal-sized (and usually black or Hispanic) women who sometimes appear in their pages? Magazine editors rejoicing in the fact that women like Jennifer Hudson, America Ferrera and Tyra Banks don't suffer from eating disorders sounds suspiciously like those patronizing, clueless people (John McCain, are you listening?) who refer to Barack Obama as "articulate". It's an easy way for them to take something normal (i.e. having a healthy relationship to food, or speaking clearly) and give a person of color a pat on the back.

Almost makes us want to stick our fingers down our throats and...well, you know.

Weight: Not A Weighty Topic [Huffington Post]