Fats in a magazine

Last Sunday, News Ltd’s Sunday Magazine ran an article on fat stigma and fat acceptance, with interviews with Frances and Sam and Bri and…me!  (Hello and welcome to all the new people who found me via the article.)

It’s a great, positive article, and I think the writer, Jane Hutchinson, really ‘gets it’ with regard to fat stigmatisation.  It’s so encouraging to see these ideas being aired in mainstream media in Australia.

Click through for higher res files (look at that picture of Frances! Isn’t she incredible?! Also: So much yellow dress envy!)

It’s been really interesting for me being involved in this story (which is the first bit of media I’ve done).

One of the things I’ve been teaching my students at the moment is the idea of ‘framing’ – that is, what gets selected for show, what gets left out of view, what gets put around it.  We’ve been talking about it in regards to images, but it’s even more relevant to the construction of stories (and blog posts, for that matter).  I’m fascinated, both intellectually and, in this case, personally, by the way an hour and a half of conversation gets condensed to three or four quotes, and also by what kinds of quotes get selected.  I’m pretty sure I said some Deep and Fascinating and Profoundly Insightful things about fat stigma, but it’s the personal – and especially the emotional – bits which made it in.

Also, I think it’s hilarious that I’ve been quoted saying why I prefer the word ‘fat’ to ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ and the very next paragraph talks about how many overweight and obese people there are in Australia.  It seems terribly apt that we’ve been talking about irony in class today.

This isn’t a criticism of the story or the process or anyone involved – I think it’s a really great and positive piece, and the quotes were selected because they serve the story and the angle.  But deconstructing media is kinda what I do, and it’s completely irresistible given something I was actually there for.

ETA:  I also meant to address the whole “last acceptable prejudice” thing.  I talked to Jane during the interview about how I think it’s a bogus claim – there’s all sorts of prejudice which is enshrined in legislation, used for political gain, and casually bandied about.

I’m also amused that the headline on the cover reads “Proud to be fat: The women who say bigger is better”.   Pretty sure the message wasn’t about being ‘better’ so much as not being worse.

I do, however, think Jane’s analysis of the photos used to illustrate the Christine Nixon stories is very astute, particulary when she says:

…the implied message behind the photo was clear: this woman is obviously unable to manage her appetite and body weight.  how can she be trusted to manage anything else?

Now that’s the kind of analysis of framing I hope my students will make!

10 Replies to “Fats in a magazine”

  1. Yeah, I thought that was super weird when I read it (Also, congrats!). I saw that part and just went “Uh. Wow. Way to miss the point.” and then that “Last Acceptable Prejudice” thing made me cringe.

    I’m completely in favour of the article though. It was wonderful to see this, especially something from the West, which has a fairly conservative lean. Did you notice that there was a diet ad on the last page? Sigh.

    But we’re getting there! Yay! Good work!

    1. Thanks!

      I meant to write about the ‘last acceptable prejudice’ thing – I actually talked to Jane at some length about why I don’t think that’s the case. Her response was that there’s less pc policing of attacking someone on the grounds of their fatness than their gender, race, sexuality, etc. Which…yeah, to a point, but that doesn’t mean other prejudices are no longer acceptable. Just look at the current election campaign.

      Where’s this diet ad of which you speak?

  2. I saw this in the Sunday Times liftout thingy, think it was STM and I am not sure if it was the same article because it seemed more positive to me. But it did have the same picture of you leaping in the air which I thought was very cool. 🙂 Well done!

    1. That’s interesting if it was a different article. (I’m not sure which article you’re saying was more positive? I think the one I’ve posted was very positive, I just can’t help deconstructing….but critique is not criticism – at least, I don’t mean for it to be in this case.)

      That’s Awesome Frances from corpulent jumping in the air. She’s ace. I’m the one in the smaller picture on the second page. Wearing all black, like good fats do (hah!).

    2. What? Sunday Times? As in, the UK Sunday Times?

      PS. Jackie, I love that ‘Awesome Frances’ is catching on as my nickname. My plan is falling into place…

      1. In my head, your names IS Awesome Frances. Like Fashion Hayley but far more excellent and without the secret fat-bashing history (which, yaknow, people can change and all, but…)

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