‘Curvy’ Christina Aguilera Elicits Full Range Of Media Fat-Shaming

It’s been funny watching the media deal with Christina Aguilera not beating herself up for being a bit ‘curvier‘ than your average gal in Hollywood. The undercurrent varies from one of mild astonishment to one of repulsion, but all runs along the lines of ‘she is BIGGER than she once was and yet she’s not performing in a Snuggie!, WTF?’ Of course, most don’t outright criticize Aguilera, because that wouldn’t be fashionably “body positive.” But entertainment bloggers, lifestyle-section reporters et al. are masters of the fat-shaming code.

Even if you don’t think you’re familiar with fat-shaming code, you probably are. It’s all those insidious ways that people — in the media, in real life, in comments sections — talk about women’s size that implies criticism or negative judgement without saying it directly. Take the Daily Mail article Briana wrote about yesterday. A comment on Aguilera’s body and outfits at the at the American Music Awards Sunday night, it’s titled ”Christina Aguilera is unapologetic about her curvy figure as she spills out of two costume changes at the AMAs.”

Oof. Describing someone as “spills out of” something is obviously a dig. But the use of “unapologetic” is more high-level fat-shaming code. It could be read as positive, in a ‘f**k yeah you show ‘em’ kind of way. But in the context of the rest of sentence/article/everything the Mail has ever published, the word ‘unapologetic’ is clearly more of a subtle suggestion that Aquilera should have something to apologize for.

The Mail is really the master of keeping fat shaming (or general woman shaming) pieces just  contradictory/convoluted enough to leave room for plausible deniability, and so the Aguilera article begins by tittering that she “burst onto the AMA’s” Sunday followed a few sentences later by a description of “the blonde superstar in two jaw-dropping, clinging outfits.” It also suggests that Aguilera’s “fuller figure” is an act of “defiance to the skinny” — another statement that could be read as either a (misguided) attempt to celebrate fuller figures or a backhanded way to call Aguilera not skinny.

I know the Daily Mail exists to troll us, but look around at other media — you’ll see the same coded fat shaming language and machinations. Here’s Fox News, leading with a bit about what a bombshell Aguilera was at the AMAs followed quickly by a roundup of nasty tweets about her appearance. Here’s a writer from Complex magazine deciding that Aguilera being “a tad plus-size” is okay because it makes her cleavage “way more noticeable” and because for reasons he can’t fathom, she does seem comfortable with it. Here’s a blogger starting a post about Aguilera’s AMA dress by pointing out that Aguilera “vehemently insists she’s happy with her fuller physique.”

That’s the biggest weirdness, perhaps — everyone’s reaction to the way Aguilera ostensibly feels about her body. We don’t know how she really feels about her body, of course, but the fact that she’s wearing curve-hugging dresses and performing in corsets seems to suggest she’s cool with it. And this just boggles people’s minds. We do not know what do with (white) women above a size 4 who aren’t actively trying to lose weight or recovering from an eating disorder or on the cusp of some terrible downward spiral. We do not have a familiar narrative for it.

I think that’s why you get the the suggestions that Aguilera can’t actually know how she looks like, because if so she would never be out in public or dress like that. This is an amazing conceit because it involves someone being sure so that their particular version of what’s attractive is the most correct/important that anyone not living up to it should be ashamed.

I also think it’s why people are so ready to cast Aguilera or other “fuller figured” celebs as rebels, in a defiant crusade against prevailing body standards and thin women everywhere. Maybe Aguilera et al. actually just don’t give a shit; maybe they’ve just decided they have better things to worry about right now. But that goes against what women are supposed to be like and hence the more familiar skinny vs. fatty narrative.

Seen any particularly egregious fat-shaming code or ‘I can’t believe she’s not skinny’ articles yourself? Do share.

 

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    • nicole

      She looks AMAZING. And not fat, but like a normal human being in comparison to most people in entertainment. My guy friends couldn’t stop commenting on how hot she looked. I wish media would stop making this a story.

      • healthnut

        She looks fat and that is not attractive! Nor should it be considered ‘normal’ because fat people are now the majority of the population we live in! Don’t hate on those of us who do care about our health enough to eat good food and exercise to stay healthy! It’s not always ‘vanity’ to maintain ones health! I am middle aged and have had eight children. I look half my age and have maintained a healthy weight when most women my age have let themselves go! Disgusting and unacceptable!

    • Dave

      i see hotness only

    • Dave

      oh yeah i didn’t read the article

    • YOUNAMEITBOB

      FATTIE

      • Jaclyn

        fucktard

    • jamiepeck

      I tried to make it clear that I don’t think her “rebelliousness” is really intentional, but rather she is a rebel by default because we live in a culture that makes it so. By which I mean, curvy (or even, gasp, fat) women are “rebelling” each time they do anything society tells them not to do. (Which is pretty much anything other than hide indoors and diet.) Whether or not they mean to.

      • http://twitter.com/enbrown Elizabeth

        Oh, yeah, that’s how I took it. Sorry if I made it sound otherwise; I really liked your post.

    • Vanessa

      The more I read of BlissTree, the less I understand what kind of female ideology you’re aiming for here. I understand that you’re anti-fat-shaming, advocates of a healthy body image, pro-feminist, etcetera. This is all great, and by all means, I agree… but then a quick scroll to your front page reveals about 6 different articles on how to maintain your diet on Thanksgiving. So while simultaneously telling women that it’s O.K. to be comfortable in their bodies and not subscribe to ridiculous media standards of thinness and beauty, you are also telling them that it’s critically important to fret about what and how much they eat on ONE holiday meal that occurs ONCE a year, as if it is the end all to their self concept.
      This just doesn’t make sense to me. How about “hey, it’s okay to think about things other than the size of your waist for a day”… or heaven forbid, for a holiday meal! It’s almost like telling females everywhere that self acceptance is only appropriate as long as you follow the rules.

      • Briana Rognlin

        Hi Vanessa,

        Our philosophy is that it’s possible to prioritize your health in a way that isn’t all about how you look. And a lot of the advice we’ve posted for Thanksgiving is actually about how to strike a balance between making healthier choices (like avoiding super processed Tofurky, or super hormone-filled meat, for example) and allowing yourself to indulge and enjoy the holiday so that you’re NOT stressed out about it.

        Different experts we’ve interviewed have different approaches, but in general, we don’t publish posts that tell people to worry about “the size of your waist” or discourage people from enjoying a holiday meal. I think if you read some of the posts we’ve written about how to stay healthy throughout the holidays you’ll see that we’re not telling anyone they have to “eat this way so that you can stay skinny on Thanksgiving” — it’s more about wanting to enjoy your food and, at the same time, not feel like total crap afterward.

        Hope that helps,

        Briana

      • Vanessa

        While I appreciate the sweeping assumption that I have not read any of the posts I mentioned, that would be incorrect. I am- and have long been- an avid reader here at BlissTree, but I can no longer ignore the ongoing ‘shaming’ theme you have going on. Sure, you claim to advocate ‘proper diet’ and ‘prioritizing health above beauty’, but what you really do is throw around the usual health jargon and “pro-tips” that every Dr.Oz-esque health franchise does, all of which are basically media-established criteria for how women in society should look, but dressed up in some nice politically-correct upholstery. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read an article here that is all about “don’t eat this!” “eat this!” “workout X number of minutes a day!” “watch out: this could be ruining your diet!”. And then there are the faux-angry option eds about how celebrities are wrongly judged based on their bodies, posted alongside an article on tips by “nutrition experts” (read: authors of books on arbitrary diet tips and food, with nary a PhD, MD or any mentionable credential in sight) about how to “not ruin your diet this Thanksgiving!”. How can a website like BlissTree even agree to give credence to an author whose book is titled ‘Sweet and Skinny’? Or a personal trainer whose holiday health concern is ‘fitting into her spandex’?
        If you open a Health Psychology textbook, I assure you that you will not find glowing appraisals of the word ‘skinny’ and tips on how to ‘keep trim and beautiful’. If you’re so concerned about health BEYOND looks, why are the vast majority of your posts based on how to attain this ever elusive “beauty”? Women do not need to feel like they’re risking prosecution from the Health Police every time they eat something that hasn’t been given an O.K. by some online health guru, or haven’t slaved away their daily recommended minutes on the treadmill.
        I’m not saying that you’re wrong (or unique) in doing any of these things, but if you insist on being like every other propaganda health blog on the web, don’t turn your nose up at other bloggers who are doing essentially the same thing, but with more transparency and less choosy vocabulary.

      • lalala

        I 100% disagree with you. As someone who has been in recovery from an eating disorder for the past two years (after having it for the majority of my life), I have frequented many, many sites about how to lose weight in my time. I love Blisstree because it has helped me realize that food isn’t all about how to lose weight, it’s about nutrition. This site pulled me back from what was about to be a relapse. I went on, and everything was so heavily stressing health over size that I re-evaluated the direction I was heading in. Honestly, Blisstree has helped me more than nutritionists and doctors combined, and I’ve seen a lot of them. I think you really need to calm down.

      • Vanessa

        While I appreciate the sweeping assumption that I have not read any of the posts I mentioned, that would be incorrect. I am- and have long been- an avid reader here at BlissTree, but I can no longer ignore the ongoing ‘shaming’ theme you have going on. Sure, you claim to advocate ‘proper diet’ and ‘prioritizing health above beauty’, but what you really do is throw around the usual health jargon and “pro-tips” that every Dr.Oz-esque health franchise does, all of which are basically media-established criteria for how women in society should look, but dressed up in some nice politically-correct upholstery. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read an article here that is all about “don’t eat this!” “eat this!” “workout X number of minutes a day!” “watch out: this could be ruining your diet!”. And then there are the faux-angry option eds about how celebrities are wrongly judged based on their bodies, posted alongside an article on tips by “nutrition experts” (read: authors of books on arbitrary diet tips and food, with nary a PhD, MD or any mentionable credential in sight) about how to “not ruin your diet this Thanksgiving!”. How can a website like BlissTree even agree to give credence to an author whose book is titled ‘Sweet and Skinny’? Or a personal trainer whose holiday health concern is ‘fitting into her spandex’?

        If you open a Health Psychology textbook, I assure you that you will not find glowing appraisals of the word ‘skinny’ and tips on how to ‘keep trim and beautiful’. If you’re so concerned about health BEYOND looks, why are the vast majority of your posts based on how to attain this ever elusive “beauty”? Women do not need to feel like they’re risking prosecution from the Health Police every time they eat something that hasn’t been given an O.K. by some online health guru, or haven’t slaved away their daily recommended minutes on the treadmill.

        I’m not saying that you’re wrong (or unique) in doing any of these things, but if you insist on being like every other propaganda health blog on the web, don’t turn your nose up at other bloggers who are doing essentially the same thing, but with more transparency and less choosy vocabulary.

    • Vanessa

      The more I read of BlissTree, the less I understand what kind of female ideology you’re aiming for here. I understand that you’re anti-fat-shaming, advocates of a healthy body image, pro-feminist, etcetera. This is all great, and by all means, I agree… but then a quick scroll to your front page reveals about 6 different articles on how to maintain your diet on Thanksgiving. So while simultaneously telling women that it’s O.K. to be comfortable in their bodies and not subscribe to ridiculous media standards of thinness and beauty, you are also telling them that it’s critically important to fret about what and how much they eat on ONE holiday meal that occurs ONCE a year, as if it is the end all to their self concept.
      This just doesn’t make sense to me. How about “hey, it’s okay to think about things other than the size of your waist for a day”… or heaven forbid, for a holiday meal! It’s almost like telling females everywhere that self acceptance is only appropriate as long as you follow the rules.

    • LarryNuffergate

      There’s nothing wrong with a nice young lady who likes to curl up in bed at night with a good book and a jar of mayonnaise…and a Hershey’s bar……maybe a pound or two of bacon…

    • http://www.facebook.com/spencer.eden Spencer Eden

      When it comes to women, no one criticizes them like other women. As a man, I think Christina is hot as hell!

    • blaize

      Love this article. Society as a whole- whether it’s bloggers, the tabloids, commenters on web sites, and even some public figures- has been unreasonable about Christina Aguilera’s weight gain over the past almost two years. With the amount of criticism she gets for her figure, you’d think she weighed 250 pounds. But in reality, her height being about 5’1″ or 5’2″, at the most she weighs about 135-140 pounds. I’ve figured this out because I have a family member who’s built like her. It’s funny to me how because she’s no longer a size 0, 2, or 4, people say “She needs to cover up now. She needs to stop dressing provocatively. She needs to at least be covered from her bust to her knees at all times.”
      People, Christina’s style has ALWAYS been provocative, wild, revealing, and daring, and she says she’s comfortable with her weight. So what makes you think she’s going to suddenly start dressing modestly and demurely now? She’s ok with her size, she loves her body, and she admits that she has always loved dramatic, theatrical style. Why should she tone it down? That would be a sign of defeat. I applaud her for exercising her right to wear whatever she pleases and rebelliously staying true to her preferred style rather than conforming to the critics like a coward. We as a whole have become so used to stick-thin girls on the runways, Victoria’s secret models whose only visible body fat is in their push-up bra-enhanced breasts, airbrushed images, and celebrities who work out as if exercise is their religion, that we don’t know how to act when we see a famous woman who doesn’t fit all those standards. We act as if something is wrong with her, because we’re so used to fabricated images of female ‘perfection’. At the end of it all, a person’s body-type doesn’t determine whether or not I like them as an artist.

    • Maggie

      I think she looks sexy, but I wish she would pump the brakes on those god awful spray tans.

    • No Conern

      This disgusting fat pig was the one fat-shaming Kelly Osbourne before her laziness overpowered her lingering metabolism. Now she is fat and gross and Osbourne isn’t.

      Her current state of disgusting fatness is karma for her earlier bully and fat-shaming of Osbourne, who is now in good shape because she isn’t a lazy ‘donna. Fat pig Christana pretends to be okay with her fatness because she is lazy and doesn’t want to work at changing her lifestyle for the better but she is your typical insecure artist and hates herself.

      And all the fat disgusting women are here to cheer on this former fat-shaming bully merely because she is one of them now, a sister in the herd, nevermind her own past behavior of fat-shaming and bullying. She is a fat disgusting mean-spirited pig playing off the insecurities of other fat pigs in some sort of girl power fat fetish orgy of laziness.

    • No Conern

      “Lady Marmalade got into the peanut butter again.”
      -Joan Rivers

      “She called me fat for so many f***ing years, so you know what? F**k you! You’re fat too.”
      -Kelly Osbourne

    • CW

      She probably isn’t all that big if one saw her wearing normal clothes- she just dresses in a way that doesn’t flatter her current size. She needs to fire her stylist and find someone who knows what to do with her curves. Something more drape-y and less “stuffed sausage”-y.

    • healthnut

      She is fat and looking very unattractive! Time for her to lose some weight so her health is not compromised!

    • healthnut

      How the heck can anyone feel comfortable in their body if they are fat? Why are we accepting obesity as something ‘normal’? Too many folks are way too fat and it is a national epidemic! Lose weight or suffer terrible health problems!