So apparently Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner ….a republican Rep from Wisconsin thinks Michele Obama is a hypocrite for advocating for a healthy life style. He says “She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself” …..Ok so lets deconstruct this….First thing is first…alot of blogs already have attacked the elements of fat shaming involved in this …so I’ll only touch on this lightly. It has been said before and I will say it again…you cannot tell the level of health a person is at by LOOKING at them. No one has EVER been able to do that. You cannot SEE high blood pressure, you cannot SEE diabetes or heart disease by looking at a person. You cannot SEE bad health in a person. Bad health has to do with the LIFESTYLE of a person, NOT the way they look. And it is NOT for Sensenbrenner to judge anyone’s health, even if she WERE unhealthy, it does not negate her desire to help children get healthy.
But more than the fat shaming involved here (because lets be real, Michele is hardly THICK and she CERTAINLY doesnt pass for fat) is the racial element. It disturbs me that a bunch of feminists are focusing on the fat shaming element of this and completely ignoring the racial implications of Rep. Sensenbrenner’s statement (an obvious case of white privilege). Having a big ass is attributed to the black girl stereotype. Black women’s bodies have ALWAYS been on display for the public eye. Attention has always been called to them for the size of their hips and asses, they have been compared to animals for their genetic proportions (like primates)…for physical proportions that are NATURAL and not inherently unhealthy for black women. The only part of Michele Obama that can be attacked is her backside, because to the eye she meets every other standard set by white patriarchal beauty idealism (outside of her color). But like so many other black women, her genetics makes her a deviant…..everything that makes her NOT a white woman makes her deviant. Rep. Sensenbrenner calls her unhealthy but in my mind he is calling attention to her body. This is less a case of fat shaming and more about calling up those controlling images that have plagued and oppressed black women for CENTURIES. The image most prevelant in my mind right now is that of the jezebel. The Jezebel image that sexualizes every black woman, calls them sexually deviant simply for the shape of their bodies, makes them everything the cult of white womanhood is NOT. Rep. Sensenbrenner has sexualized the first lady, his words automatically call attention to her body, automatically sexualize her and no matter how modest she dresses people are going to be looking at what Sensenbrenner thinks is a fat ass. Not even the first lady is free from oppressive images like that of the hottentot venus….sure, no white man is taking Michele to a party to show off her ass but capitalizing on the First Lady’s behind, to point out that she is a hypocrite when it comes to health, is nothing short of a red herring. It draws sexual attention to the First Lady….
White men have ALWAYS looked at the bodies of black women with lust and a mindset of ownership, and through eyes that call black women hoes, whores, sexually and morally deviant…. and Sensenbrenner attempting even VAGUELY to police the body of Michele Obama, again, calls up harmful controlling images that are still prevalent today. The majority of women who are colored have large hips and thighs and asses, the black female athletes, mothers, teachers, doctors….. making these physical characteristics automatically equal to bad health, marginalizes an already oppressed group even further….. Black female bodies have always been the “domain” of white men, Sensenbrenner is reminding us of this….its not okay for white feminists to ignore the underlying racism in this statement and the repercussions it is going to have for other women of color who already feel inadequate for having big thighs, big asses and big hips….the inability of black women to meet standards that are put on every woman but are really based off the perfect image of white women has been covert for a pretty long time….it is statements like that put it out in the open.