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What Taylor Swift’s ‘antihero’ controversy teaches us about fatphobia in feminist politics

Taylor Swift recently deleted a scene from her music video. anti heroafter being denounced by several fat-positive activists across social media. fat phobia scene.

In this scene, Swift’s two selves are in the bathroom: the real girlfriend and her “antihero” character. When Swift’s true self stands on top of her scale, her antihero persona is pointing downwards at her, and the word “FAT” appears on her scale. Swift’s face looks disgusted. The scene received considerable backlash online.

Receiving video, fat positive therapist Shira Rosenbluth Posted on Twitter:

Taylor Swift’s music video stares down a scale that says she’s “fat,” but it’s a crappy way to describe her body image struggles. Fat people needn’t repeat once again that looking like us is everyone’s worst nightmare.

white celebrity feminism

As white feminist academics emerge in the arts, addressing anti-racist and non-colonial practices and tackling divisions in feminist politics, this is an isolated case of one artist. not. It reveals a division about fat positivity within white feminism.

White feminism is not just an identity, it is a structure. As women’s studies scholar Kayla Schuller writes, “It attracts people of all genders, races, sexualities, and class backgrounds, but white middle-class women are its chief architects.” did”.

Taylor Swift is dressed in white on the scale in the bathroom.
A scene from Taylor Swift’s music video “Anti-Hero”. The video was edited to remove the word “fat” after Swift was accused of fat phobia.
(YouTube/Taylor Swift)

Fat activists have grappled with taking power away from the word “fat” and using it as a neutral descriptor. It shows an internalized fatphobic message. According to Swift, her body’s fame and public scrutiny were the main causes of her eating disorder.

Some have expressed concern that Swift’s removal of the scene from the video watered down her feminist message. How does removing the , especially dilutes the feminist message?

This suggests that fat becomes a feminist issue only within the context of market-friendly celebrity feminism and in the context of the harm of eating disorders from the perspective of white women.

Fat activists replicate trends in depoliticized, individualist feminism that ignore the racial, colonial, disabilityist and socioeconomic issues behind issues such as eating disorders. has criticized Swift’s video and reaction for doing so.

Swift was able to fend off criticism with the support of fans and media writers who jumped to her defense to defend her image.

Erasure of Others’ Experiences

online answers Criticism of fat activists speaks. Swift’s advocates belittle and demonize fat activists and align with the stereotype that fat women are unmanageable.

As feminist scholar Alison Phipps argues, white feminism is an identity deeply invested in victimization, suffering, and injury.

Swift’s silence and her angry defenders make it clear they’re complicit in recreating white supremacist fatphobia.

A book cover featuring a naked fat black woman.
Body is not an apology Sonya Renee Taylor.
(Penguin Random House)

Rhetoric obliterates the fatphobia experienced by black women and other racialized people. We live under a system that forces us to judge, devalue, and discriminate against other people’s bodies.

White feminism supports the idea that feminism is about individual empowerment, freeing artists from the hook of answering to repeated injustices in their art. Moments like this are regular in feminist politics. It is a missed opportunity for the Coalition to reject the critiques of activists who have arisen violently and are bold. It strengthens the power of white feminist gatekeeping.

feminism and eating disorders

This division between feminism and fat activism often revolves around conceptualizing the harm of eating disorders. Fat positivity has a lot to do with our culture’s obsession with thinness, and how we enforce and maintain body hierarchy. You have to work on how you curse yourself for being fat.

Swift’s videos are like many other white feminist artists resolving bad body feelings in public as a way of dealing with the harm of negative body image.

A continuing theme in Swift’s work is to ridicule misogyny in the media. Since moving away from her storytelling, she has transitioned to a pop persona, reveling in her “funny” flaws, talking about the “real person” beneath her persona, and making her feel relatable. increase. Fat phobia is a personal flaw here, not an organized social problem.

White feminist responses to criticism of fat activists reveal the limits of fat positivity in feminism. increase.

[The feminist] The ability to reject the demonization of fat in one context and accept its negative stance in another suggests that one view of fat (the bad view) stems from sexism and the other (the good view) It is based on the idea that it stems from sexism. health. It is wrong to equate a woman’s worth with her appearance, but it is acceptable to encourage weight loss for the same woman if it improves her health.

Swift’s permission to express fat phobia in terms of being detrimental to her health maintains her victim status, thereby reducing the afflictions of thin women to discussing fat phobia. concentrate on

The message I received was that it is good to be positive about your body, but there is a limit to that goodness, and it is only for people with thin bodies.

Swift has undoubtedly become a critique of beauty culture, but that culture cannot be separated from its capitalist, colonialist, and white supremacist roots.By identifying lipophobia as being primarily about female appearance, Swift and others blur the structural and material oppression experienced by fat people.

These divisions in feminism will continue as long as white feminism defines fatphobia and insists it is an issue to resist individually.

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