For today’s Say Something Sunday post I want to talk about activism that reader Wendy Dirks recently engaged in (and gave me permission to share with you.) Wendy e-mailed me about an advertisement she saw from Amazon [linked provided, but trigger warning for fat hate]
http://www.advertolog.com/amazon/adverts/yoga-20911555/ The video is of a yoga class made up of women and one larger-bodied guy. One of the women sees the man in Balasana pose (I think – I’m not a Yoga expert so correct me if I’m wrong…) she stares at him, and then a hand and wrist come into the frame holding a meat thermometer which then LITERALLY POKES THE FAT MAN. In the next frame the fat man is replaced by a turkey which is then impaled with the meat thermometer and we find that all of the proceeding fat shaming was in the service of selling the Amazon app that would allow this woman to think about needing a meat thermometer and then buy one using Amazon’s app.
Wendy e-mailed me:
I thought it was going to be something romantic – then, when the meat thermometer appeared, I was gobsmacked and burst out, “What the fuck is that!”
I am about to write to Amazon. Everyone should write to Amazon.
Wendy wrote a truly excellent letter:
Dear Customer Service:
If you check your records, you will find that I have been a customer of yours for many years and that I shop with you regularly. Last night I was watching the Newcastle United vs Manchester United football match when this advert came on: http://www.advertolog.com/amazon/adverts/yoga-20911555/.
At first I thought it was going to be something cute and romantic, like fat lad gets the lass. Then I watched as she imagined sticking a meat thermometer into him. Fat man as fat roasted meat. I cannot begin to tell you how offensive I found this. So many things were so incredibly wrong with this advert.
First of all, men do yoga. He was the only man in the class. Fat people do yoga. He was the only fat person in the class. If you doubt this, let me tell you that although I am a woman, I am fat woman who been practicing yoga for almost 30 years. Please have a look at this video, which is a lot closer to reality.
Or perhaps you need to see fat men doing yoga. Here’s a fat male yoga teacher.
We don’t need to apologise for ourselves in yoga classes and we certainly don’t need to have somebody broadcast adverts that compare us to fat juicy roast chickens. In fact, we don’t have to apologise for our existence at all. How many of your customers do you think are fat? We’re supposed to be the fattest nation in Europe. I would to guess that you have a lot of fat customers. Do you really want to alienate them that way? Our money is just as valuable as that of thin people.
I look forward to your response.
Dr Wendy Dirks
That’s how it’s done! Maybe you change the world, and maybe you don’t. Too often we don’t engage in activism because we’re afraid that we won’t be perfect or that it won’t be enough to create change. But perfection isn’t the goal – taking action is. The outcome isn’t within our control, all we can control is what we do. Nobody is obligated to engage in activism, but everyone is welcome to engage in whatever way works for them – from posting something fat positive on Social Media to going to a protest.
If you’re thinking about justifying this, or saying that it’s no big deal, or not worth fighting, I welcome you to check out this post. The fact is, that people can make engaging and interesting ads that do not, in any way, involve cheap fat jokes. (And if they can’t then they should seek employment elsewhere.)
If you have activism that you’ve engaged in that you’d like to tell me about, feel free to leave it in the comments or e-mail me at email@example.com
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