In a memoir called Fat Girl: A True Story (2005), author Judith Moore concludes “I am ashamed and I am resigned to my shame.” It is hard to blame Moore for failing to take pride in her fat body. Large bodies have been associated with inferior, primitive qualities, and considered to be unproductive, undisciplined, and weak for a very long time. Amy Farrell dates the rise of fat phobia to the end of the nineteenth century, when an emphasis on industrial efficiency made fat bodies seem wasteful, undermining their previous status as alluring signifiers of wealth (Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture, 2011). Continue reading
A while back I was posed a pretty open-ended question regarding how my creative endeavours influenced and were shaped by my unrelenting desire to, as FFG puts it, ‘pick up heavy shit, put it down again, and then pick it back up’. Continue reading
‘Wow these bagel heads are geniuses!’ I proclaim, showing the digital photos to my LSP. ‘They are not geniuses,’ he calmly announces. ‘They have saline in their heads.’ ‘Yes, but in the shape of a bagel,’ I protest defensively. Continue reading
I have been trying to remember my first time. Sorry to disappoint, but I am not referring to my debut orgasm, which involved me getting it on with a spin-cycling washing machine. Nor am I invoking my first sexual experience with a live person rather than an inanimate object. Continue reading
Every once in a while the FFG blog gets a boost in readers, and a sudden spike appears on my informative wordpress dashboard. It happened this week because another article was published about my incredibly thrilling research project. Called ’Muscling Into Theory,’ it was in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly American online news and job information site for academics. A number of my American conference friends e-mailed me congratulatory messages, so I guess it was kind of a big deal:
While I wrote the article, it was edited and re-titled, and I did not choose the photo, though in the end I am happy with the one included. I look accurately dorky and uncomfortable in my bikini plus ultra-tan. I was especially pleased to hear from a number of people previously unknown to me, all fit academics using their valuable time to send me a shout out. Equally rewarding was the $350 cheque that I found in the mailbox the next day. Academic publishing usually pays nothing except elusive cultural capital, which is hopefully cashed in later as professorial salary. Certain presses will ask its authors to choose between payment in books or a smaller lump sum of money. I always take the money.
One notable message came from an American academic who had recently won a bodybuilding competition. I immediately asked him to guest blog, inviting him to become a celebrity poser on the FFG stage. Expecting him to be overwhelmed with writing deadlines, grading, and intensive training, I was sure that he would decline. Once I learned about his incredibly successful publishing career, however, I was not surprised that he instantly sent a draft text, generously and efficiently contributing to FFG world. As I read about his road to becoming a ripped tenured professor, I thought ‘Wow this guy is an ambitious maniac, just like me.’ We both completed a PhD and attained a tenure track job before reaching the age of 30, got early tenure, and then continued to ‘produce’—academic terminology—while excelling in other domains. ’We are the same person!’ I pompously exclaimed. Well, except that he is younger, an African American, and has a penis. But other than that, exactly the same. Oh, and he also won his national-qualifier competition, instead of being bralessly ranked in the middle of the entry-level pack like me. Still. I want to stress my respect for this relative stranger. Just as those who have never competed do not really know what it feels like, physically and mentally, to be onstage as a bodybuilder or figure girl, so too do very few understand what it takes to be a successful tenured professor these days. I am not talking about that asshole professor played by Robert Redford in that crappy movie I regret having watched on an airplane; nor do I mean those fucking old guys who would never be hired today, and should retire but never will. They are determined to die in their dusty offices while staining their bad-breath brown teeth with one last coffee. Will I regret learning how to adminster CPR and use a defibrillator? Fingers crossed that I won’t be on campus that day. Whenever a fresh faced young student comes by my office to assert: ’I want to be a professor, like you!’ I can’t help but grimace and try to talk him or her out of it, explaining what is actually involved, including 10-15 years of university education, a low chance for success, and little choice about where to live. If you actually want something called ‘life-work balance’ then steer clear of this business. But enough of my blathering. Today you can look forward to a nice breath of fresh air from Guest Poser. Take it away GP.
I have been bodybuilding for almost four years. I have competed in both the National Physique Committee (NPC) and National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA). I am currently a national level bodybuilder in the NABBA and recently won the NABBA Great Lakes Open Lightweight class. In May, I won the NPC Vermont novice lightweight and open bantamweight classes. Perhaps, more importantly, I am a tenured history professor at a university in New England. My fields are the British Atlantic world, slavery, and African American history. I should also mention in the interest of full disclosure that I am African American. How many African American historians are national level bodybuilders? Continue reading