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.
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?