It’s drafty in here (and the Chubby award goes to….)

My drafts folder is getting slimmer and slimmer. This would not win it any awards at the Miss Chubby beauty queen pageant which announced winners at the start of August. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Beauty pageants have never thrilled me. If I ever sat and watched one, it was because there was something even less interesting on the other channel (yes boys and girls, Minion grew up in a land with only two television stations! And she had to pull her ass off the couch and twist metal dials around and around on the funny box in order to switch back and forth between them! Wow! Zany!). To my way of thinking now, they’re really no different than what farmers and 4H kids still do with their animals at exhibitions. There’s great satisfaction in walking away with the prize bull or heifer.

In terms of selling sperm, calves and meat later, I can see why people want to rank animals by their looks, size and qualities. It’s a financial matter. So why do women do it? (Worse, why do mothers do it their girls?) Is it a financial matter as well? Are better looking women better earners in the long run? The Independent was reporting a 12% improvement in wages back in 2007 for this reason.

The main reason for the apparent victory of the lookers is that they are seen as more helpful and co-operative.

In the study, reported in the Journal of Economic Psychology, University of California researchers studied three groups of subjects according to general perceptions of physical attractiveness. Their behaviour was observed and their different incomes taken into consideration.

“Attractive people make more money than middle attractive people, who in turn make more money than unattractive people,” declared the researchers.

The scientists said their work was applicable across different societies and work settings.

The researchers concluded that attractive people make more money because they found it easier to generate co-operation among their co-workers. The team ruled out another possibility – that the more successful were just more selfish.

Depressingly fascinating. Of course, a woman’s beauty is still one of those somewhat superficial measurements of worth that can vary from era to era but livestock judges are trained on how to rank animals and there are manuals they can follow year after year to make sure everything is judged as fairly as possible. Nobody would dare write up such a book to rank women that easily, here’s hoping.

So, onto the Chubby awards.

Angela Scognamiglio said she was “very moved” when she was named on Saturday night as the new “Miss Chubby” at the complex-free contest held in the Tuscany village of Forcoli, near the city of Pisa.

“I am very moved, I feel as if I’ve won the lottery,” the 33-year-old from Naples said after beating out 30 other contestants for the title.

As in all past 20 editions of the pageant, there is only one condition for entry: you have to weigh more than 100 kilograms.

She weighs 170 Kg, and she had to be on a scale on stage to prove it. Again, not that I want to compare women to cows (as I am a somewhat large woman and have been called a cow at least once in my life, I’m sure) but I don’t get the compulsion to want to enter these kinds of things, as a large woman or a slim one. What kind of message do they ultimately send out, that looks really are all that matter and all that need to matter?

No big prize for the winner, just a huge cake to share around, and perhaps for all the contestants a boost in self-esteem in contrast to the mockery many obese face.

“When we get on a bus, people nudge each other, and whisper, making fun of us, and it’s the same on the beach,” said redheaded Marilena Amato.

“We are the victims of severe discrimination, it’s as if we are second class citizens,” said another contestant, Antonia Bartolo, a 37-year-old nurse from the Milan region.

That’s a problem all right. There is a hell of a stigma attached to weight and weight problems. Whether people want to assume it’s lack of willpower, or laziness, or whatever – a person of size is instantly judged by the size and then often ignored. And trust me, it’s far better to be ignored than face the taunts and ridicule we might get otherwise.

The contest is also about “entertainment, a chance to get to know people who face the same problems I do”, she added.

The contest’s founder, Gianfranco Lazzereschi, says the event showcases other types of beauty in women.

While I’ve never been the size these women are, I’m still floored that the Man expressed so much interest in me when I was at my largest and wasn’t fazed in the least by it. I treasure that about him, mind you. I just don’t “get it.” I suspect this inability to accept the fact that someone thinks I’m pretty damn fine as is stems from mass media in some ways, but also from cultural cues I’ve experienced over the years. I think there will always be some little part of me that won’t believe it’s possible anyone would want me when I look like I do.

That said, I’m sure more people would be into larger people if the stigma didn’t extend to them as well. I suspect there are people in the world who wind up lying to themselves and others about what they really think is attractive because they fear, or at least worry, about how others might react. Or people want to think of this kind of attraction like it’s some fetish interest that isn’t necessarily going to be made public or treated as a mainstream and completely normal thing when it truly ought to be.

Miss Chubby Winner

I think Ms. Scognamiglio is a very beautiful woman, so congrats on winning this thing, I guess. It’s not going to change anything, though. People will still avoid looking at her. People will still tell themselves they’d rather be dead than look like that. (Little boys will still bounce around behind her pretending she causes shock waves as she walks– sorry, flashback to my youth there.) Winning this prize will not change her personality or what kind of person she is. If she really is worth knowing and loving, she shouldn’t need a prize to prove it. She shouldn’t feel like she needs a prize to prove it.

And that is the crux of the issue, right there. Why is self-worth so wrapped up in a number on a scale? Why is this the kind of society we’ve willingly created for ourselves?

Could it have been any other way?

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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5 Responses to It’s drafty in here (and the Chubby award goes to….)

  1. Rantn'n'ravn says:

    It’s a complex issue. Like you have just analyzed you can logically see how wrong it is to judge a woman in such a way (as if she were cattle) and yet you do judge yourself that way (when you can’t understand how someone finds you attractive at your heaviest). Yes it has some to do with media images, but for at least two decades now there has been just as much media devoted to blabbing about both how magazines touch up the photos as well as the women having plastic surgeries to conform to the unrealistic ‘Barbie’ shape. As well as how the women who are so thin have serious issues like being anorexic and/or bulimic. So it’s not even that any of us look at the front of a magazine and think, oh I can look like her. Because we know what the reality is.

    The other side of that is that, people generally have a wide variety of physical appearance they find attractive. So most don’t really have a set size requirement. Regardless of how heavy a woman is, she still has all the right parts to be a woman. And most that I’ve ever spoken to, when determining what they’d like to hold onto, want something of substance to hold, not someone that might break if they use too much pressure.

    But overall, the thing that makes someone look most attractive is to be comfortable in their own skin whatever size it is, if you are confident and happy with who you are, then people will find you attractive.

    Now obviously one can discuss how someone of considerable weight has to think about their health and that is all true, and I most definitely feel that’s something absolutely worth focusing on, in a supportive way.

    As far as why women get heavy, I think there are more and more health studies coming out to confirm the overall problem is with the foods that are made available in a cheap easy format, because of subsidizing it, and our body metabolizes it differently.

    I think women have to just be happy with who they are and aspire to improve the things they feel they need to (like being healthier). And stop searching for the approval from the external. When those ads in the magazines aren’t getting attention they will then be forced to conform to what a real woman is.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment about this.

    I’ve got a book on the go that I’ll have to write about once I get further into it. It’s called Enlightened Sexism: the seductive message that feminism’s work is done by Susan J. Douglas. Media bias is playing into a lot of the mixed messages women get about how we’re doing as a gender compared to men. It’s pretty interesting so far, especially when the topics turn to how much of an opposite it really is to have a strong leading woman in a show like The Closer and still have blonde bimboes bouncing their boobs in bikinis to make horny men drool. While women may be encouraged to think it’s all about making those stupid men look bad, it really isn’t making us look much better.

    I don’t know if I even noticed the irony of my judgmental statements about my looks, actually. I think that’s also an issue – that women just aren’t realizing how much self-degrading stuff they’re doing to themselves. I’ve heard of mothers who get worried when their 6 year old daughters start thinking they’re fat and need diets, and yet where are these girls getting the idea that there is some near-impossible standard to aspire to if not from Mom’s complaints in front of a mirror 20 times a day?

  3. Rantn'n'ravn says:

    Exactly, it does no good to tell your child she’s beautiful just the way she is, if you are constantly trying to pour yourself into an unrealistic mold. Kids pick up a lot more of what we do, when we think they aren’t looking, than what we say to them directly.

    I don’t think the problem is that some women choose to run around in skimpy clothing bouncing perky breasts, it’s that the mindset that someone out there feels THAT is the only image that is attractive, and the truth is that attractive covers a much broader variety of features and sizes.

  4. 1minionsopinion says:

    I check on a regular basis. Often they’ll highlight an instance where excessive Photoshop tweaking has been done to a model and created a mutant more than a slimmer imaged woman.

    I also wrote about Lizzie Miller a while back, and the “plus sized” naked pictures she was doing that got more than a little press.

    I could also rant about today’s shopping excursion into the land of fancy bras, too. I wound up asking for a fitting and got told I was a 40 H. The girl promptly hurried out to get me something supposedly matching my chest and boob volume to the T. and it was a laughable disaster. I can’t fathom why giant bras require padding. I get why little titted girls want to pretend they have more but Christ.. I got plenty. I don’t need any more!

  5. Rantn'n'ravn says:

    Wow, that’s just….wow. I have never bothered being fitted, but yeah I have no need for padding or under wire. Work of the devil to begin with if you ask me.

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