Sometimes, I make people uncomfortable. I am loud and cuss a great deal. I wear lots of colors all at one time. I tell stories that require wild hand gestures. My personality takes up space, but not nearly as much as my body does. I am 274 pounds, and to some, I am uncomfortably fat.
As a chubby chick I have rules that I have to live by. My hair must be clean if I am to leave the house. No Tweety Bird shirts at any time. Never can I wear tennis shoes with no laces. If eating at a buffet, I will never be the first one in line, and if there is one left of anything I will not eat it. These are the unspoken but real rules of being fat in America. They were created to fight a stereotype which is often perpetuated by the media and TLC. There is another stereotype that bothers me just as much as the chicken leg gnawing, off-brand Ked wearing, redneck one, and that is the “but she has a pretty face” stereotype.
The “but she has a pretty face” stereotype is what the Dove soap advertising campaign does. The women are lined up next to each other in white panties and bras, and while some of these women are bigger than others, they fall well into the average category. My body is not depicted. If this was truly an ad that was embracing women it would have me, Gabourey Sidibe, and Beth Ditto. Women who are or who have been truly plus sized, and have stretch marks and body flaws. One of my breasts is a cup size larger than the other. My stomach is a mess of stretch marks and my belly button is deep and wide. Tattoos and scars cover my skin. My double chin is near legendary in my mind. In the shower I soap my body and lift my heavy breasts. I open the shower door and prop a leg up on the sink to shave my legs. I lather and watch the puddles form on the bathroom floor. I am too big to shave my legs with the shower door closed. This is me. This is my life as a plus-sized woman. This is the life and body of a real women and not what Dove is trying to sell you.
I am many things, and I will admit that fat is one of them. I am never going to be in a Dove campaign hugged up against other women with a smile on my face. My head will never be thrown back in false glee as a photographer tells me what to do next. Dove is lying to you and selling you a false sense of confidence. They want you to believe that all women are beautiful, but they won’t show you my body, or Gabourey’s body, or Beth’s body. They want to be seen as inclusive but not too inclusive. That is the lie that is being sold.
Check out this article by Erin Keane for more conversation about Dove and their advertising campaigns. http://www.salon.com/2013/04/18/stop_posting_that_dove_ad_real_beauty_campaign_is_not_feminist/