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Everything we know about obesity is wrong, and everything about who we listen to on the subject of fatness and fatphobia is bullshit.

By Hess Love I can't blame Michael Hobbes for writing “Everything you know about obesity is wrong” or for writing what seems to be meant as a compassionate piece. It was well written, factual, and even my fat Black ass learned something. It is not necessarily Hobbes who is the problem when it comes to thin white people writing these articles. It's the people who value to voices of thin white people who write about fatness over the voices of actual fat people. Those that rely heavy on “Ally Culture” to introduce them to perspectives outside of their own experiences—the Jane Elliott or Tim Wise effect. It's a phenomenon where those who have the most privilege exercise that privilege in a way that ironically continues to elevate them and sideline the voices of the marginalized people they attempt to speak on behalf of. I cannot count the number of people who bypass my fat Black ass and my social media posts about fatness and fatphobia, bypass me and my physical and rhetorical loudness, but shared Hobbes’ article with glee. A performance of acceptance and progression that they themselves do not possess. I, and many other fat Black women, have been saying the very same things that Hobbes writes in his article for years, but they don't listen to us. Our society sees Blackness, fatness, and oftentimes even “womanness” as unhealthy, disqualifications, and ultimately as sins. Many people believe Blackness is the mark of Cain, that fatness is the mark of gluttony, that untamed womanhood is the mark of disobedience and chaos. A walking embodiment of the Pandora's Box, “apple-shaped” bodies symbolize the forbidden fruit that caused the world to fall. To embody all of those things in a Judeo-Christian society, and then to have the audacity to talk about our right to happiness, leaves us being unheard. Happiness, in the form that people feel it is, is supposed to be, and the way that they have been programmed to believe it is, is not a right of ours. We are a living and breathing sin in a world where people hate both the sinner and the sin, no matter how much they tell themselves that they can separate the phenomenon from its actualizer. But fatness is not a sin, and fat people do not need visiting pastors to proselytize on our humanity despite our conditions. Fat people do not need translations of how we move in the world. The language that we use to talk about our experiences are not foreign, however our bodies are seen as alien and intrusive. To exist as a fat person is to be seen as a societal burden, so to talk about that existence, especially in a way that indicts society, is seen as a nuisance.  

It's time to focus on the people who built movements, not just the ones who conveniently profit from them.

Édouard Manet’s “Olympia” depicts a nude white woman laying in bed upon a pile of pillows while a Black maid serves her. Olympia is, of course, the focus of the painting. She's white and stands out against the darker backdrop that the nameless maid blends into. When I read stories of non-Black women taking from Black women's labor while centering themselves, taking up space in movements that other, far more oppressed people have fought for, I think of this painting. When I read about Jameela Jamil's intellectual thievery from a fat Black woman, taking the words of Stephanie Yeboah and presenting them as her own in order to make herself visible in the body positivity movement, I think of this painting. Olympia's world cannot exist without the work and labor of her nameless Black maid, but it is Olympia who gets all of the focus. This is exactly what happens to the work of Black women time and time again. The labor that we do is co-opted and used by people who are more conventionally appealing to the public, garnering all of the credit. Fat Black women are especially erased, even from movements they've founded. For a salient example, see Tarana Burke and the white feminist co-opted #MeToo movement. Now, what Jamil said, that the movement has been “taken over by slender white women”, is true and not a new discussion in the body positivity sphere. Many activists have been having this conversation for some time now. I've made similar comments in my own writing. It is not a new idea, and that is totally fine because that is not the issue here. We can all talk about the same concepts, and we should because the more we discuss them, the more they are noticed. The issue here is that Jamil was educated on the matter by Yeboah and her words were almost verbatim to what Yeboah had told her. This is ironic because the discussion is about the co-option of the body positive movement in marketing and here's Jamil, doing the exact same thing. As a woman of color herself, you would think that Jamil would be more conscious of this issue and support Yeboah better, but it is also true that the labor of fat people, emotional and physical, is seen as something that is up for the consumption of the masses, to be used or tossed aside as they see fit, especially when they are fat, Black women. So it's really no wonder that Jamil would take Yeboah's words and use them as her own.

Nappily Ever After would have significantly benefited from hiring Black people, especially women or femmes, and allowing them creative power.

By Jazmine Joyner The natural hair movement celebrates Black hair in its natural form and encourages people of Black descent to embrace their afro-textured hair. I went natural in the fall of 2012, after years of relaxers which gave me burns on my scalp that looked like someone had put out a cigar on my head. By consistently having my hair chemically relaxed, it became so damaged that I went from having shoulder-length hair to a pixie cut. In the Southern California suburb I grew up in, having natural hair was an added difficulty on top of being one of the only Black girls in my school. I wore my natural hair in middle school, with my giant afro puffs proudly displayed à la Jazmine in “The Boondocks. My dad would tell me that I was “Rough and tough with my Afro Puffs.” At home, around my family, my natural hair was considered cute and stylish, but the moment I stepped onto school grounds I just had “nappy hair” which all the white kids around me stuck their hands in and pulled at. During my freshman year of high school, I wanted to blend in and look like my favorite band at the time, My Chemical Romance, and I begged my mom to let me get a relaxer. She was against it, having worn her hair natural for as long as I could remember. Her loose curls frame her face perfectly, she and my sister have 3C hair, a more manageable texture, while I have 4C hair, a kinkier texture to which I applied protective styles including braids and cornrows. Our different hair textures meant that my mother couldn’t quite figure out a way for me to wear my hair in a pre-YouTube tutorial world, so it was often easier to just braid it up. Eventually, she gave in to letting me get a relaxer which led to my senior year’s pixie cut. I was over trying to manage the dead and fried hair that eventually sat on my head due to the relaxer chemicals, so I took some clippers and shaved it off, thus beginning my journey of returning to natural. Black women spend nine times more than our non-Black counterparts on hair and beauty, spending about 1.1 billion dollars annually. There are documentaries, books, and television shows about Black women and our hair—a whole industry has been built up around us and our hair, including Netflix’s newly released film, Nappily Ever After, a movie based on Trisha R. Thomas’ book by the same title and starring Sanaa Lathan as Violet, a woman who cuts her long tresses and begins her natural journey following a traumatic event. Our hair is politicized and policed in many spaces. From a young age, we’re told by schools that locs, braids, and our natural hair texture is unacceptable—and this mentality is carried over into our professional lives where natural hair is often considered “unprofessional”. Brightly colored hair on non-Black people is fun and edgy, while on Black women and femmes it is often considered ghetto. Our hair and our experiences surrounding it is something so intensely personal that if there is a film about the experience of returning to natural, I would want and expect a Black woman or femme would be the one to tell the story because experience and perspective in a heavily racialized and anti-Black world matters.

When Asian women are objectified and dehumanized, this reinforces the idea that Asian women lack agency.

By Linh Cao Worldbuilding is tricky. Creators have to spend hours researching before they can even begin writing. And once they start writing, they might run into a obstacle that can only be addressed via more research. After the story is written—what then? The real world isn’t stagnant. The readers grow as people. One would assume the author does so as well.  But once stories are written, they’re done. It’s been told and you can’t take it back once it’s out there in the world, rattling around in the global conscious. And any attempt to make changes to it will often be met with scrutiny. When it was announced that Claudia Kim was cast as Nagini—Voldemort’s snake in human form—in the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”, people of color worldwide understood right away what the implications would be. Some supported the casting, on the tail of “Crazy Rich Asians” and the Asian American representation movement, saying that “all representation is good representation.” But what if that representation meant she would be a cursed, possessed object for wizard Hitler? Up until this creation (and I truly do believe JKR decided this recently), Nagini was the pet snake and a horcrux to Voldemort. Neville Longbottom ultimately beheads her, which is seen as a satisfying victory for those who oppose the Dark Lord. Some supporters of the casting think we’re angry and disappointed because a woman of color is cast a villain. No. We’re angry and disappointed for two reasons.
    1. No care was taken to understand the ramifications of casting a woman of color as a white man’s pet.
  1. The lack of research and thought put into Nagini’s character and her curse.
To understand the first reason, readers must understand how power and privilege work and how Nagini’s casting fits into the current real world we live in. Asian women are hypersexualized, objectified, and seen as either meek and quiet or as dangerous “dragon lady” types. People view us in this regard because of stereotypes perpetuated by white media, and because of where we sit at the intersection of Asian and woman. To cast Voldemort’s pet turned horcrux as an Asian woman plays into many of these stereotypes. She’s literally objectified by being turned into a man’s physical possession.  

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