Ashley Anne Kirilow, a 23-year-old Burlington native, admits she faked cancer, ran a bogus charity and collected thousands of dollars from hundreds of people. She shaved her head and eyebrows, plucked her eyelashes and starved herself to look like a chemotherapy patient.
... When I first saw this news case, I thought to myself (yes, rather cynically): there is no way that anyone other than a young, attractive, normative person could have pulled this off. If Kirilow had been—for example—fat, in her 30s, plain-looking and homeless, few would've given her the time of day. Much of Kirilow's success seems attributed to the fact that she easily roused pity with her little lost girl story and her brave smile. Kirilow embodied a version of white womanhood that we want to believe in (or at least we've been socially conditioned to embrace it): pretty, plucky, determined, and in need of rescue.
Kirilow is a prime example of a sympathy grifter: a grifter who uses racist/sexist/classist/etc beliefs in their favour, to get money, affection and attention, or to (literally) get away with murder.
When it comes to roles on television and in movies, fat actresses have few options. Instead of portraying diverse, multifaceted characters, they are usually relegated to either sassy fat sidekick or supportive fat best friend. Of course, as Marissa Audia-Raymo illustrates in her BUST Magazine article "The Fat Friend" (August/September Issue), these stereotypes ring true in real life as well.
The fat acceptance movement has been active for a long time. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance has been around since 1969, challenging social attitudes about fat and fighting for fat equality. There are clear intersections between fat acceptance and feminism, as writers like Kate Harding have amply demonstrated, and there is also an unbelievable level of pushback when it comes to talking about fat in some feminist spaces; fat is bad, fat is bad for you, fat people are bad people.
In the many years that I've been editing book reviews, I've never been
pitched so hard on a title as I was for Roxana Shirazi's The Last
Living Slut: Born In Iran, Bred Backstage. The book's PR trumpeted that
it "is sure to be one of the most-talked-about and controversial books
of the year…the rock and roll version of The Satanic Verses." Weekly
e-mails and phone calls alerted me to the "unapologetic, feminist book"
and its "passionate, heartfelt tale of jilted love," urged me to
interview the author, and—with that Rushdie reference—suggested that
Shirazi's tale of cock-rock conquest could easily be grounds for a
After actually reading it, though, I'm thinking that if The Last Living
Slut does turn out to be one of the most talked-about books of the
year, it'll be mainly because those publicists can't stop fulminating
about how controversial it is.
Even though August showed up faster than product placement on Bravo, summer's not over yet, and you can get your sun on with this sampling of bands bringing back garage and surf rock to a town near you....
Verizon doesn't exactly have a reputation for being an organization that's empowering its users. After all, it is Verizon that's leading the fight against net neutrality, which would amount to an Internet that is basically the opposite of user-friendly. Perhaps that's why they've launched a new ad campaign designed to convince us that, through powerful transmitters, Verizon is on our side in the fight against prejudice. (I know, right?)
You know, I would really like to enjoy Snyder's films. Because they look nice. And also, I enjoy going to the theatre, turning my brain off, and being dazzled. But he keeps on having to throw these wrenches in my brainless enjoyment...
...My heart just cannot take any more films or TV shows (or books or whatever) that try to turn into entertainment our culture's (and many other cultures) long history of locking up people with psychiatric disabilities and subjecting them to horrendous and unimaginable and inhuman conditions, sometimes for their entire lives.
And let's not even get into the fact that Snyder's main character (characters?) is meant to arouse our sympathies simply by being that distillation of all that needs to be protected and cherished: the perfectly petite, panty-wearing blonde virgin. This is a formula that objectifies white women and erases all others, and it's just not going to fly much longer.
As there seems to be a basic lack of understanding of fat acceptance among many readers here, I think it's appropriate to take some time out and illustrate some of what I consider the main lessons taught by the fat positivity and fat acceptance movements. I recognize that Bitch does not regularly deal with issues of size and fatness, so we'll just discuss some key points and then we can go back to talking about fat in pop culture.
Truly transgressive art should make us uncomfortable. It should challenge us. Yet, a lot of supposedly transgressive art is created within very safe boundaries, by creators in positions of power, and it often reinforces harmful social attitudes and beliefs at the same time. People living in marginalized bodies who could produce groundbreaking work are only allowed to enter the pop culture sphere when they conform to certain expectations, and they are well aware that a lot of pop culture consumers will tune them out if they cross the invisible line.