Britton Delizia, Las Vegas resident and gym enthusiast, lives in a really interesting, special world. It’s a world where fat people are not only tolerated, but glorified and held up as an ideal to which all women must aspire. High-fashion magazines are filled with size-22 models, for whom Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada clamor to make the finest clothes. Thin, fit women are shunned on the street, sandwiches hurled at their Lululemon-clad figures. And man, you don’t want to know what happens when a woman with a finely honed six-pack walks into a spinning class at the gym. The stares, the whispers—it’s hell.
Yes, this is Britton Delizia’s world, and she feels that you should know that it’s a dangerous, dangerous place. To wit:
Its undeniable that when we stand a skinny, athletic or even average sized female next to a larger (even if less healthy, overweight or obese) female, that…we as Americans will assume that the heavier person is funnier, smarter, nicer, and less sexually promiscuous, all because she is not as thin or physically fit than the girl next to her.
This thing has already taken a life of its own , the insurgence of women who feel they have been put into box where they are allowed to be attacked but are not allowed to defend themselves, where they can be mocked and assaulted for having an ideal size, or for working on their body , but where the inverse is a protected category of people who if you were to repeat to them the inverse ( Girl you look like you need a sandwich VS You should skip a meal) you could be fired , assaulted, or arrested for a hate crime.
Yes, that’s right. Britton Delizia is mad as hell about how thin, fit, well-formed women’s bodies are treated in society. And to combat it, she’s using Kickstarter to fund and create a book of photos of thin, fit, well-formed women’s bodies. What would differentiate said book, from, say, 90 percent of books or magazines consisting of photos of women? Well, this one has a purpose: To raise awareness of this cultural discrimination, and to once and for all MAKE IT STOP. The curiously punctuated book I’m Learning to apologise for my Metabolism is going to be a game-changer, y’all.
Here’s the thing about Britton Delizia, for those of you who perhaps feel that while, yeah, this is a dopey project, and SOMEONE should learn the definition of “bastardize,” calling this person a douchebag is way harsh, Tai. It’s not at all douchey to propose that discrimination and trash talk about women’s bodies is something that sorely needs to end. It’s not douchey to suggest that this trash talk perpetuates the idea that women must necessarily be in competition with other women for societal approval, male attention, and other dubious cash and prizes. And it’s definitely not douchey to believe that the very fact that we consider women’s bodies—all bodies, really, but women’s especially—to be in the public domain, just waiting to be assessed and judged and declared “beach-ready” or “cankle-y” or any other of a thousand adjectives coined solely to apply to women’s physiques, is a problem that is worth fighting.
However. What is douchey is creating the kind of antagonism that Delizia has created with this project, which conflates the quotidian cattiness aimed at thin, beautiful women—a cattiness that is a direct result of the belief that women’s bodies are always in competition with one another!—with the actual discrimination faced by fat people.
And while Delizia claims that the project’s aim is not “to bash or assault any single body type, quite the opposite,” the photo on her Kickstarter page—of a woman holding a sign reading “I’m sorry the butt I work for isn’t as good as the one you ate for”—tells a very different story. For Delizia, weight is a binary. And people are never so quick to feel judged as when they themselves fail to practice nuanced thinking.
The excellent Lesley Kinzel, writing at xoJane, summed up the fear that undergirds this project—the idea that suddenly, fat people are more visible and less apologetic than perhaps they’ve been in the past:
“She might be thinking, wow, suddenly there’s fat people EVERYWHERE, and they’re not all actively hating themselves. They’re living their lives! Being seen in public! Not hiding themselves in muumuus and basements, only venturing out in darkest night to replenish their stockpiles of bacon and lard, diving back into their hiding spaces like waddling flabbified vampires returning to their grease-stained lairs at the sunrise. They’re acting like people. Like they have a right to human dignity! THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO STAND!”
And certainly that’s part of it. But Delizia’s writing evinces a real disconnect from reality that is both puzzling and, let’s face it, just a tiny bit hilarious. Take this earnest plea to think of the children:
I think this book will probably upset a few people, i think it will be looked at wrong by some people.
But.. if it just makes it into the hands of ONE little girl who feels like she has to be overweight to fit in with the current 70% of the overweight population of America, and it gives her the strength to know that being healthy isnt a bad thing.
Yes, please! Free the little girls from the tyranny of magazines like Fat Seventeen and Your YM Fat Prom, with their brainwashing photos of girls Photoshopped to look 40 pounds heavier! Free them from the damaging influence of unrealistically fleshy Barbie and her glitter-festooned pink muumuus! Stop making girls think it’s cool to be fat, American culture!
The point isn’t that Britton Delizia is a terrible person with a fiendish vendetta against fat people. I mean, she might be, but the point is that she, like almost all of us, has internalized years of insecurity and misery and perspective-warping cultural chatter about weight and well-being, and is processing it in the form of perceived discrimination, just as others process it via eating disorders or, in the case of Ricky Gervais, cruel self-hating humor. She’s free to do that, though it remains to be seen how many people care to actually fund her project. (After all, an issue of Women’s Health or Shape magazine pretty much gets the same job done, and is readily available on most newsstands.)
However bizarro the world Delizia claims to live in may seem, it’s ultimately not unlike the world that the rest of us live in, in one crucial way: It’s a world where women’s bodies stand in for their entire beings, and, however thin or heavy they are, bear an unfair weight of judgment and expectation.