About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

I Call Bullshit: Exercise is Important

My arms look this way because I eat kale seasoned with unprocessed sea salt. NOT.

Tosca Reno’s arms have been sculpted by kale seasoned with unprocessed sea salt. NOT.

According to certain “experts” in the fitness industry, fat loss is primarily based on nutritional choices. Exercise has little or no impact on body composition. The “Eat Clean Queen” Tosca Reno quantifies such claims, declaring that working out has an effect on the body of only 10%, with genetics providing another 10%, and food intake adding up to 80%. In other words: you are exactly what you eat, so stop blaming your genes. And stop worrying about working out, apparently. I call bullshit on these invented statistics and what they imply. Continue reading

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Responses to FFG: Five Years Later

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Five long years ago.

Five long years ago.

Exactly five years ago, I was standing on stage during an amateur figure competition, dehydrated and feeling like crap. It seems like a lifetime has passed since then. I rarely think about those days anymore, though I sometimes consider the book I wrote afterwards, inspired by the embodied experience of prepping for and analyzing the process of becoming a figure girl. Continue reading

Obesity and the Environment

water, peace and warAre fat people destroying the environment? Yes, says Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. According to Chellaney, the “obesity epidemic” is a key cause of the global water crisis. He writes that:

  • Growing prosperity, population size, and economic development are not the only factors behind the soaring consumption [of water]: the global population is also getting fatter, especially in wealthier countries. This promises to have a big impact on water demand, as fat people consume more water-intensive resources like food and energy than those who are fit, thus indirectly driving over-exploitation of natural resources, deforestation, and the release of greenhouse gases (Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis, 2013, xiii).

Continue reading

On Miscarriage: Guest Post

Two months ago I had a miscarriage. Miscarriages are things people don’t talk about, though I wish they would. Perhaps if we talked about them more, we who go through them would know what to expect. Did you know, for example, that if you are over 40 and pregnant you have a 1 in 2 chance of miscarriage? And that 1/3 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage? Continue reading

Naked in Different Places: France, The Caribbean, and South Korea (Collaborative Post)

merkinParis, 2010

After climbing five narrow flights of stairs, I push tentatively against an unmarked door. Is this the ladies change room? I enter a fitness class in progress. About 20 slender men and women wearing tight black pants are lying on their backs, thrusting their hips into the air to the rhythmic chant of “les fesses, les cuisses.” I slowly back away. Continue reading