If I get called a manatee, I know the person speaking is not referencing the fact that I eat a lot of vegetation and enjoy swimming, although both of these things are true. It’s inevitably a reference to the manatee’s perceived fatness, because their fatness is ostensibly the most central feature of the species (as can be socially true for fat people as well), and the hyperbole is meant to make me feel badly about myself. You’re so fat you’re not even a person anymore. It doesn’t work, because I know better.
So while there are definite problems with these animal analogies, and while I’m not saying people aren’t allowed to feel their feelings about it, I just can’t get worked up about the whole deal. Sometimes life is too short to think of a manatee as anything but a rad thing to be compared to. You can call me a manatee anytime and I’ll take it as a reminder to connect with my zenlike inner sea cow self — something I should do more often anyway.
(via CALL ME A MANATEE ANYTIME: Why I Wasn’t All That Bothered By Target’s Plus Size “Manatee Grey” Dress Debacle | xoJane)
But what about Rebel Wilson, currently featured in teen a capella comedy Pitch Perfect and bad-girls-wedding-movie The Bachelorette? Or Donna, played by comedian Retta, the funniest thing in Parks and Recreation? Sadly, those two are consistently and totally defined by their weight. Their problem is different than Dunham and Kaling, though, because both Wilson and Retta are actually fat. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it just as a descriptor, nothing more. They’re both also funny and pretty, too.
Stanley writes, “A lot of rules are being broken in romantic comedy,” referencing Wilson getting the handsome groom in The Bachelorette. Dude, one limited release comedy does not equal a broken rule; it’s just that we haven’t seen that since Hairspray. And, as Lindy points out, it’s still all about her weight.
Do fat people get fat because they’re hanging out with a bunch of fatties — in other words, is it a causal relationship fostered by shared behaviors? Alternatively, do fat people initially make friends with other fat people simply because, as the study suggests, “birds of a feather flock together,” which would indicate these individuals are connecting because they were already fat in the first place?
OR, do fatties gravitate toward each other based on a biological impulse to pool information about where the best pie can be had in their local community? (OK, I made that one up.)
In neighboring Thailand my embarrassment was caused when a Bangkok tailor used “special” fabric to create a one-of-a-kind shirt for me. Only when I was seated in the lobby of the world-famous Oriental Hotel and noticed the stares of guests did it become clear that my shirt had been made with the same material used to cover the hotel’s furnishings. It brought a whole new meaning to blending in with your surroundings.
“Size is a subject of considerable controversy in fashion, but it is equally so in American life. What is big? What is too big? What is not big enough?”