I just read about this charming episode at Big Fat Deal (in which a couple of male ballroom dancers on Dancing with the Stars criticized female dancers on the show for their weight), and I am incensed.  First of all, do NOT fucking presume to tell me why I watch or should watch a TV show. I don’t watch DwtS, but if I did it would be for the same reason I watch So You Think You Can Dance–for the dancing. Especially do not presume to tell me that, effectively, the reason I watch it “should” be to get inspired by stick-thin dancers. I may be inspired by their dance ability or someone else’s writing or artistic ability or accomplishments, but I am not “inspired” by images that encourage me to get on some kind of impossible hamster wheel so that someday–if my dreams come true–whatever man is making this kind of ludicrous pronouncement from on high might declare me worthy of being looked at as a sex object. I have more important things to do than make a career out of looking acceptable to men. Especially if “acceptable” means “thinner than women who are professionals in a field that is already well-known to be fraught with eating disorders and unhealthy weight standards.”

Also, I bet you a million dollars that whatever BMI is represented by these two dancers is at least 5 points below any level at which male dancers would start to get any grief about their unsuitability as role models. But, you know, these two guys are just concerned for our health. I’m not sure what’s worse–the sexism or the idea of two out-of-touch dudes riding up on a white horse to save stupid fatties (who might otherwise actually be fooled into thinking that these two women [link also via BFD] are plenty thin enough). Who will end the OBESITY EPIDEMIC if van Amstel and Chmerkovskiy are prevented from conveying the important, totally health-related message that although Burke and Schwimmer may look just fine to obese, ignorant hayseeds like ourselves, they are actually “heavy” (per van Amstel)?

All I can say is, thank god weight standards for women are so objective, beneficial, and completely unrelated to men’s sense of visual entitlement. I don’t know what I’d do without these guys looking out for me.

I know this won’t actually help, but since I never miss an opportunity to plug the show IRL, why not just cut your losses and start watching SYTYCD instead? Love. Well, except for some of Nigel’s more fatphobic and homophobic moments, but that’s another post.

ETA: I found out this morning (thanks, wriggles) that the men are claiming they were misquoted. I did skim past the comment on BFD that made that point last night, but I was typing this at about 4 a.m. and the comment didn’t really sink in for whatever reason. Anyway, here (van Amstel and Chmerkovskiy, respectively) are the links to their explanations so you can decide for yourself. FWIW, the claim of being “taken out of context” is not that compelling to me because I’m not sure in what context such comments would be appropriate… and therefore Chmerkovskiy’s post is not that convincing to me (and I don’t really like how he appears to pin the blame on van Amstel), but as I stated in comments, it’s possible a language barrier is making his “tone” read differently to me than what he intended, so just know that he did claim he was taken out of context, and draw your own conclusions from his words. van Amstel’s post is quite full-throated and I appreciate his clarifying the situation.

Even if the two men are the victims of misquoting or having their words twisted by the reporter, I think it’s really interesting and says something profound about our society that the reporter’s misquote took the form of totally ignoring the men’s main point (if they are to be believed)–that they personally had gained weight and were musing about their suitability as role models–and made it all about the women on the show. This is so typical and representative of the general view that women’s bodies are public property and women have a responsibility to meet the standards of the male gaze (no matter how stringent or unreasonable) at all times. Add in the fact that you can hide behind the Obesity Epidemic and “health” pretty much no matter what you say, and it’s like hatred soup (and although I don’t want to unfairly slam the dancers if they did not in fact say these things, in a larger sense it almost doesn’t matter whether they or the reporter said them… the thrust of the words is so predictable and telling). Mmmmm!

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