Friday, March 12, 2010

When Vanity isn't so Fair

So today on I stumbled across an article "Can talent outweigh size in Hollywood?" Before I go on, just look at the picture above and what do they all have in common? The title of this is cover is "A New Decade, A New Hollywood" These are the faces of the "New Hollywood" now many have asked, why Zoe Saldana (who's not overweight but she's not white either) or Oscar nominated actess Gabourey Sidibe weren't on the cover? Howard Stern, being the shock jock that he is goes on air and says "What movie could she play in?" Stern questioned on his live broadcast. "You feel bad because everyone pretends that she's part of show business (why isn't she part of show business?), and she's never going to be in another movie." the growing sentiment seems to be tht he's only saying what everyone else is thinking. Jeffrey Wells says "Gabby is a lovely person and a fine actress, but the hard fact is that she's way, way too fat," adding that the actress will suffer from health problems as well as limited career opportunities if she doesn't lose weight. Since when is Hollywood concerned about health? Every other week we find out about another celebrity dying of an overdose, prescription drugs, or suicide. So she's fat, but who's business is that? Wells states"I don't want Gabby to not work, but the only roles she'll have a shot at playing will be down-market moms and hard-luck girls working at Wal-Mart," Wells continued. "No casting director would choose her to play anyone in the upscale executive world ... because no one in the executive world looks like her." In the modeling industry, there is extreme pressure for women to be skinny, sometimes dangerously skinny, they develop eating disorders that are sometimes fatal. Models don't look like the average American, in fact statistics show that America is becoming more overweight so riddle me this...Speaking in terms of film, is life supposed to imitate art or does art imitate life? What is to be said of talent? Gabby's life was far from her role in Precious, she pulled out the authentic grit and emotion to carry out one of the best performances i've seen in awhile. Why can't she be great? It begs the question of the relevance of beauty and success, should talent go unnoticed for the fat, short, darker skinned, less physically attractive? Gabourey is a classic example of why you should dare to be who you are, dare to step outside of your shell and be great because no one would have ever imagined or believed if you told thim that she would be nominated for an Oscar. People are still in disbelief as if it were some green one eyed unicorn that will never happen again. We are to defy stereotypes, we are to love ourselves, and we are to be examples for those coming from the rear. And by "we" I mean anyone affected by adversity, or that isn't the cookie cutter image of perfection. People's perceptions and opinions are just that, perceptions and opinions...I'm rooting for Gabourey, if she loses weight fine, but if she is the one breakout actress that just so happens to be fat and dark, then so be it, the world is yours!~

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Fatolitics: the Politics of being Fat

So I was reading one of these "Urban Entertainment" blogs and there was a post about Mo'Nique being okay with her husband having sex outside their marriage. Firstly I do believe that marriage is a covenant, it is sacred, and a commitment. I can't say I think that's a good idea but that's her...And to each his own. Well after I read the post, I scrolled through the comments and couldn't help but notice almost each of them mentioned her being fat. The overwhelming issue that people had with her is her weight citing her low self esteem is the reason she would agree to something like that. People got really foul, I mean fat this, fat that, if she would put down the food this...And i'm like daaaaamn what is the real issue here??? I know it's a far stretch for me to take it there but should "fat" be a protected class in America? Now this has less to do w Mo'Nique post as it does with the trending concerns on the rise in the news concerning obesity. The statistics are alarming, we are a fat country. Children are having medical issues that don't usually arise in most people until their 40's and it's a legitimate concern that our weight directly affects healthcare. People who are overweight develop diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other medical issues as an effect. I've read the statistics and understand the implications but what does all this do to overweight people socially? How do people react to overweight people? Is it fair? Are they discriminated against by employers? Is it fair for airlines to charge an overweight person double? Can that be justified? Should there be a fat tax? Should fat people be happy? Before I go any further on that, let me clarify with a few examples about what I mean by that. Mo'Nique started a big is beautiful movement meant to empower fat women. She wrote a book that both satirized and humanized the struggles of being overweight. The message in it all was for women, especially overweight women to love themselves. Some people took issue with that. To some people, there's nothing worse than being fat and happy. If you're fat you should be either doing something about it or somewhere in seclusion hiding yourself from the world. There's little sensitivity when it comes to weight and the effects thereof. My friend's husband treats her like a drug addict when it comes to her weight, he said it's the same as any person addicted to crack. I'm a big girl and I've dealt with depression, low self esteem, ridicule (as a child), seclusion, and many other vices. On one hand you hear to love yourself first, make people respect you, you can do anything, don't settle for less, but on the other hand society tells you you shouldn't love yourself, thin is beautiful, your peers ridicule you, men tend to use you or don't want to touch you with a long handled spoon, you get excluded from cliques, family pressures you to be different, the people you see on tv and the magazines don't look like you so it becomes difficult to see through all the shut doors. You have to acquire thick skin because your adversities are great and the biggest struggle of all eventually becomes the internal struggle to Love yourself, to pick your head up and come out of your shell of depression and loneliness. It's difficult not to feel like a victim, you're not but you feel like it. It's also important to say that not all fat people go through this dark spiral. Right now approaching 30 I don't have the issues I did growing up, but still do have some of the residual effects. I'm finally accepting that some men like a well kept beautiful woman even if she has a few extra pounds and I have something to offer, lots to offer. That are the politics of being fat? Why shouldn't weight be considered a protected class? Now i'm not saying that it should, only posing the question...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Therapy (yet another passive aggressive post)

There's something about my personality that i'm just starting to recognize in my adulthood. Something that I don't quite like about myself but it is so natural for me. Something I wish I could change, but don't know where to start. So let me introduce myself in a "12 Steps" manner of speaking. Hello, i'm Toy and i'm Passive Agressive. As a child, I was quiet, I never wanted to be in trouble and I had a problem saying no. So what happens to a person that never says no, they tend to agree to things they really don't want to do. Which in turn gives you a negative attitude about doing it, and then causes you sometimes agree to doing it and then not doing it. I'm an emotional person, you may hear me start off sentences saying "I feel..." Also, I was always a letter writer, i'd have a dispute and say nothing immediately, then write a letter later. I get upset when people probe and try to find out what's wrong with me becuase I never think they'd understand, and I don't ever want to hurt another person's feelings. But what normally happens is that I end up making them more upset by not just saying how I felt to begin with. I'm always late and my learning style is procrastination, I have short term memory lapses and sometimes feel inefficient. Confusing? Not to me. This is a real disorder and classified in the DSM. To give a textbook definition:Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of expressing your negative feelings in an indirect way — instead of openly addressing them.

People who are passive-aggressive appear to agree with the requests of others. They may even seem enthusiastic about them. But they don't perform a requested action on time or in a useful way, and may even work against it. In other words, they use nonverbal behavior to express anger or resentment that they can't express verbally. An example is showing up very late to a meeting that you didn't really want to attend and then making up excuses for your lateness that deflect attention from the real reason you were late.

Signs and symptoms of passive-aggressive behavior include:

Resentment and opposition to the demands of others
Complaining about feeling underappreciated or cheated
Memory lapses
Cynical attitude
Although passive-aggressive behavior can be a feature of some psychiatric disorders, it isn't considered a mental illness. Researchers are studying how to classify habitual and problematic behaviors such as passive-aggressiveness. If such behavior is troublesome or interferes with your relationships or daily activities, consult a therapist who can help you identify and change the behavior.

Some people, especially people with type A personalities, tend to have problems thinking oudside their realm of understanding, so i've encountered people who are just like "Just say what you mean" and want me to be accountable for why I may not have shown up to an event or some other thing. And while I understand their mode of thinking, I really do try to make myself do things I don't want to do (which could be a problem in and of itself). I hate making up excuses, but what bothers me more is people asking me to give a full acount for the things not done. I'm thinking I may need therapy, just to talk things out rationally. I understand this may be my Hamartia. And what makes it so bad, bor years this has been unconsciuous behavior. Just a thought...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Your turn John Mayer. The Dunce hat is all yours!

So everyone's got something to say about Black people these days. Today it's John Mayer. In the interview he calls his peen a "White Supremacist" and then goes on to discuss people saying he has a "Hood Pass" and then drops the "N Bomb" well, just to quote him verbatim, here's a snippet of the interview.

PLAYBOY: If you didn’t know you, would you think you’re a douche bag?

MAYER: It depends on what I picked up. My two biggest hits are “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and “Daughters.” If you think those songs are pandering, then you’ll think I’m a douche bag. It’s like I come on very strong. I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.

PLAYBOY: Because you’re very?

MAYER: Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a ni**er pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”

PLAYBOY: It is true; a lot of rappers love you. You recorded with Common and Kanye West, played live with Jay-Z.

MAYER: What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude’s.

PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you?

MAYER: I don’t think I open myself to it. My d*ck is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a f*ckin’ David Duke c*ck. I’m going to start dating separately from my d*ck.

PLAYBOY: Let’s put some names out there. Let’s get specific.

MAYER: I always thought Holly Robinson Peete was gorgeous. Every white dude loved Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And Kerry Washington. She’s superhot, and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, “Yeah, I sucked his d*ck. Whatever.” And you’d be like, “What? We weren’t talking about that.” That’s what “Heartbreak Warfare” is all about, when a girl uses jealousy as a tactic.

Let me first say, it is't all that bad. Stupid, but not terrible.
I can't explain what it's like being black. It's funny because everyone has an opinion of you and now that there's an African American president, all of a sudden we're Post-Racial and supposed to pretend race doesn't matter and when these pseudo celebrities get on TV and radio and makes comments like this we aren't to respond. If we do respond, we're told we are being sensitive or that we are obsessed with race. People treat the inaguration of a black president as if that's reparations. And the sentimet that I gather is, "Now you have what you want, get over it, you can no longer say that race matters in America" B.S. As long as there are inequalities in pay, education, employment etc...We're not over race as a country, I can't deny the progression, but racism is far from over. Now back to the interview, I'm not extra emotional about it, everyone has preferences but it's the way in which he said and meant the statement that was offensive. He isn't open to having sex with black women and the term "white supremacist" just turns on the racist radar. Who uses the term "hood pass" except white people? There is no such thing. Why are some non-blacks so obsessed with the N word? People disect the word and get upset at the notion that whites can't use the word without being considered racist and somehow thinks there's a double standard when it comes to the fact that we still use it. It's strange, everyone's got an opinion about black people, some feeling, some notion, some feeling that they understand us. But each time I read an article like this, the more I realize that we have so far to go to say that race doesn't matter. Race matters to white's as much as blacks, just in different ways. So now that Mayer has apologized via twitter about using the "N word" we're supposed to get over it? He said that he's done with the media and got all pissy about the media for how this has turned out, and now he wants to go back to strumming his guitar but to me it's like a person getting mad at the camera for taking a picture...You can't get mad at the medium used, you can only be upset at yourself for making it available for public scrutiny. If you don't want people to judge what you say, then keep it simple Shut up! And to think I actually bought one of his albums.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The thing about Facebook

Facebook to me began as a surprisingly addictive and fun way to re-connect with old friends and family. So I started out with like 25 friends, cool...Then it turned into 75 and now about 150. So what might you say is the problem? I know personally all the people on my friends list with the exception of maybe 3 people. Now in this pool of people are friends, family, people I went to school with (from elementary to college) mutual friends, church folk, co-workers, brief acquanitances, old and new friends etc...The problem is, I can't be candid. You might ask, why can't you keep it real Toy? But lets face it you are not going to have the same conversation with a high school friend as you would the person you sit next to at church. I don't, so when I update my status, i've got to be very general. My sense of humor is an acquired taste it you will, and the things I want to say may not always be in good taste, and sometimes I might have a day where I feel encouraged so I want to quote some scripture but to me it's a little like going in front of every person i've bumped shoulders with in life and making little announcements about what's going on in my life everyday. My pastor made a good point when he talked about why he doesn't want a FB page and why he would discourage others from having one, he said because it will connect you with people that God may have taken out of your life or should I say that you have purposely distanced yourself from. I'm beginning to see what he means. I've been getting friend requests from some of the very people i'm thankful that are no longer in my life and I don't necessarily want them in the mix. I guess I could deny the request but it's not always bitter, sometimes you separate yourself from people for personal growth and I don't want to come off rude...So while i'll continue to make my random general updates, i'll reserve the more introspective and personal thoughts for The Gift of Gab.
Oh, and one more thought about FB...I have a friend i've known since grade school, I mean we've been best friends for years. She was going through a situation, and was discouraged so she sent me a message in which I attempted to respond in a way that to me was optimistic and straight from the heart (I also but a bible verse or two in the message) and from my perspective she responded in a very sarcastic way, like yeah ok i'm better, everything is all good now but not really, then she made a post on her wall that I responded to in the same manner and her reply seemed really cold so I decided to delete my message and leave the whole thing alone. Sometimes you have to let people go through what they're going to go through, give them space to breathe, maybe she didn't feel what I was saying but it hurt my feelings (i'm a sensiive thang)and made me wonder if I should even call or respond. But I know how these things can go, sometimes distance can stretch out for seasons and before you know it you can't build the gall to call or even say hi. This whole thing played out on FB and I don't know if the whole thing was even worth it.
Anyhow, Facebook is cool for re-connecting with people with those you love, but it can be a whole 'nuther (sic) thing if you let it...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Post-Racial America?

So the new buzzword is "post-racial". Folks we just aren't there yet, electing a Black president doesn't somehow mean that the issues of race in America don't exist. We have to be real about the racial inequities in employment, housing, education, criminal justice, health and other arenas. I don't know many people that would say that race is irrelevant everywhere. With that said, i'd also like to make clear that I believe race is no longer an excuse. There is no such "the man" dominance or oppression or monilithical sentiment amongst African Americans. I can imagine that the reason so many people are believing that we have steeped into a post-racial era is probably because of the yardsticks being used to quantify the progress and status of African Americans in this country. I don't think it's too far off to say that non African Americans tend to measure how far we've come while many non African Americans measure how far we have to go. The most complete picture, of course, requires both measures. But who can be surprised that blacks and whites each tend to gravitate toward the measure that is most forgiving of their individual groups, that shoves the onus for change off on the other? The black yardstick, after all, leaves black people no obligation other than to demand justice and equality from white people. The white yardstick requires of white people only that they exhort black people to become more self-reliant and take more responsibility for their own problems. But what if you are an American who realizes there is no either/or here, no need to buy into a false dichotomy that requires you to choose one yardstick over the other? Once you've turned off the television and encouraged black children toward academic excellence, you still must contend with the fact that their schools are too often crumbling, underfunded and staffed with inexperienced teachers.
Once you've gotten black women and men to raise their children in the context of families, you still have to deal with the fact that those families need places to live, jobs to support them and doctors to keep them healthy, all of it elusive as long as structural discrimination persists in all those areas. And, once you have convinced black children to stop defining themselves by denigrating stereotypes, you still have to fix a racially biased justice system that treats them as crimes waiting to happen. The Urban league recently released a report that Blacks remain twice as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be imprisoned compared with whites, according to the group's annual State of Black America report issued Wednesday. To pretend these realities are a thing of the past is to make yourself part of the problem. I am inspired by the notion that a country with such a sordid racial history has progressed to the point where we now have a Black President. I also know we have far to go, I have started with myself, finishing my degree, teaching myself financial discipline, waiting until marriage to have children, trying to be a role model to my siblings and being proactive in my community...Starting with self is the best we can do.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feeding the poor is like...

A woman comes into the office obviously ashamed because of what she has to do. She tells me over and over again that she's never done this before and that she doesn't know what she is doing. Her pride kept her from coming sooner but now her situation is dire, but she doesn't want to be like "one of them". A friend told her about public assistance and where to go so finally at her wits end here she is standing in front of me near tears holding a lump in her throat handing me what she considers a piece of her dignity. I am empathetic but I understand the reality, people need help sometimes. Shame comes from what our parents tell us about "welfare" and we have our our own perceptions and judgements about "those people". It's a reality check when the tables are turned and your state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. When your spouse is unemployed and overqualified for most of the jobs that are availble. When you are running out of the basic necessities and your home is facing foreclosure and somehow all you can think about is how awful it makes you if you have to apply for government help. Even thought you paid taxes your whole life that benefits this kind of help, you don't want to be labeled. I could understand but I also see the flaw in that mode of thinking, but it's my personal opinion and I don't want to use this as a platform on how I feel about welfare and the prideful. I say all that to say this. It's people like SC Lt. Govenor Andre Bauer that help form the ideology in this nation that devalues an entire class and demographic of people. So this guy makes a bold comparison of people receiving public assistance to feeding stray animals. At a town hall meeting Thursday, Bauer, who is running for governor in his own right now that Sanford is term-limited, said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that." I mean it's like saying that if you feed the poor then they'll have have kids, so let them starve because we don't want that problem. If we as a nation gan give BILLIONS in foreign aid and donate to other countries in need, then why do so many people have a problem with helping our poor? Here's the thing, welfare "ain't" what it used to be, since welfare reform and the government instituted the welfare to work programs there is a limit on how long a person can even receive certain benefits. Also there isn't just the generational poverty we're dealing with now, it's situational poverty. What happens when a person that's been laid off after working at a factory for 20 years and has depleted their savings with no job opportunities immediately and unemployment's barely enough to pay the bills let alone feed the family, what to they do? Starve? As a Christian, I believe in charity, giving to the poor and being a need meeter, it's part of my calling to give. I just can't understand how he could build up the gall to say those things. Republicans lately have been going for the shock factor and actually publically verbalizing their racist, elitist, bigoted thoughts and I don't like it at all. From what I understand Bauer recieved free lunches as a child, so it's the same concept somebody else is paying for the food that you eat. Shut up and sit down Andre Bauer.