Anatomy Lessons: Fighting Body Shame (aka It’s a Celebration, Bitches!)

indexIn 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

The Body as an Ecosystem

From the treatise on tapeworms by Marcus Bloch, 1782 (Courtesy Wellcome Library)

From the treatise on tapeworms by Marcus Bloch, 1782 (Courtesy Wellcome Library)

I first set eyes on the original version of this engraving while seated on a hard wooden chair—was it from the middle ages?—at the Université Montpellier in southern France. “Worm heads so cute,” I wrote in my notes, sure that I would be able to use the information later. At last that time has come. All week I have been working on a chapter for a book about eighteenth-century reproduction. When the editor asked me to write something related to my specialization in the history of childbirth, I refused. “I want to wax poetic about worms and dead body parts instead. Take it or leave it.” Luckily, he took it, for my research on tapeworms ultimately led me to the topic of this post: the idea that the human body is an ecosystem. Continue reading

The Tanned and Butt Ugly: Photos I Cannot Resist Showing You


This gallery contains 32 photos.

After finishing my book, which is now in the hands of external referees, I realized that many photographs—taken by the incomparable artist and designer Patrick J. Reed—could not be included in it. I think his images offer feminist interventions in the often heteronormative, … Continue reading

Excerpts from My Forthcoming Book

Feminist Figure Girl: Look Hot While You Fight the Patriarchy 

September 08, 2010

September 08, 2010

Introduction Becoming Feminist Figure Girl

Even more appealing to me was the chance that my plan would fail, and that I would be unable to compete on stage. My literal failure was certain, for I could never win a figure competition, and would likely not even place in the top ten at an entry level contest. Continue reading

Interview with a Figure Champion

Naomi Sach's presentation pose, June 2012.

Naomi’s presentation pose, June 2012.

I have a special treat for you this week: a written exchange between me and an impressive woman I have not yet met in person, but will be cheering for when she competes in the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation’s National Figure Competition in New Westminster, British Columbia on August 11, 2012. Amazingly, Naomi qualified for Nationals during her first year on stage, after placing first in her height categories at both the local and provincial levels! In spite of her rigourous work and training schedules, she took the time to respond to my sometimes probing questions.  Continue reading