I am currently writing an article on abjection and the fat black female body in Colombian media/culture. Since I work in English and for an Anglo-American academic audience, I am usually in need of providing some cultural contextualisations when in the process of advancing certain arguments. I decided then to translate into English an outrageous opinion column by Colombian socialite, presenter, and model Alejandra Azcárate, published in Revista Aló in July 2012, where she demolishes fat women. This text offers the context for certain claims I make in my article. Although the column stirred a huge controversy at the time of publication, and was badly received by many, it shows the extent of contempt fat women evoke in a society obsessed with very narrow understandings of female beauty and desirability. Defending herself from the reactions to her column she claimed –perhaps not untruly– that she just ‘spelled out what everyone says in corridors’ (see). The original article in Spanish can be found here. (The original text is not very well written, so certain parts required interpretation rather than translation).
Seven Advantages of Being Fat
by Alejandra Azcárate (unauthorised translation by Virago)
I like the body to be light, agile and flexible. I identify myself –because of my own genetic imprint and metabolism– with a body aesthetics that lacks protuberances, prominences, disproportions. However, today I decided to distance myself from my primary understanding of beauty in order to open my mind and analyse the advantages of being fat. A woman that is born fat or that becomes fat must have certain assets that deserve being highlighted rather than criticised by skynny women like myself.
- Fat women don’t think when it comes to eating, which translates into an invaluable feeling of being free. They do not bother themselves about the adequate time for ingesting food, and even less about choosing food. A bandeja paisa for breakfast does not appear to them as an absurd possibility. Indeed, it could be a weekly reality.
- When fat women go shopping they don’t spend hours trying clothes because it is rather infrequent they find their size. Their shopping is done quickly because it follows the logic `This fits me?’ I take it. Period.
- They feel like real princesses because they are the ones to know true gentlemanliness from own experience. Men offer them their seats because they fear these women will sit on top of them; they look at them with tenderness in order to avoid aggressions; they smile at them; greet them with a tap on their shoulder; move their chairs because otherwise they won’t fit; open the car’s door for them just to be sure they can get into the car; and don’t lust after them because it would be plain abomination.
- Fat women enjoy friendship to the fullest. They don’t arouse envy, which means that besides being great friends they inspire trustworthiness, which is then rewarded with loyalty. They never suffer the pain of betrayal nor the poison of deception. [I guess she means that if there is no room for love, there is none for betrayal or deception either. She contradicts herself later on this point though. N.T.]
- When having sex fat women are free from inhibitions. Rather than having complexes about their bodies, they are so self-assured that they can even make for great lovers. They always give themselves as if it were the last one time, because indeed they know it could quite be. They know no limits, they don’t care about the lights being on or off, no sexual position unsettles them, they know for certain that their strength resides in giving pleasure in order to make their sexual partner forget the feeling of being kneading a bulging sofa.
- Going to the beach or to the swimming pool does not inhibit them either. One can spot them shamelessly parading around without a sarong. They put themselves under the sun like beached whales [sapos desparramados N.T.] without any sense of modesty. As the sun cannot get into their body creases, their body ends up covered in tanned and untanned lines as if a lion had attacked them. But they don’t care. They go outside wearing tank tops, ombligueras [very short tops that show the navel N.T.], or shorts without a hint of worry.
- Fat women don’t waste time looking for treatments, tricks or systems to get the ideal figure because they know their own reality and accept it without putting up useless fights. They love themselves as they are and are loved in the same way.
Summarising, fatness leads to freedom, which is something very few people can have access to through their entire lives. Clearly sometimes fatness can generate dissatisfaction and make people want to struggle to modify the state of things. On the other hand, fat women move easily away from pressures and make of their body they biggest asset in building self-esteem.
Despite all this, let’s don’t lie to ourselves, it is better to be slim. Therefore do not trick yourselves any more. Stop thinking that your bones are big, that you suffer from water retention, and that black will make you look thinner. You are fat! Live with it. Although it sounds cruel it is the truth. Don’t pay attention to the thyroids but to the “toothoids”, and beware of never forgetting that the only fat beings that are pretty are babies.