Saturday, September 15, 2007

"I'm full of contradictions - I'm a human": Ditto finds a get out

Beth Ditto's been sharing her poorly-thought-out politics with Radio One, but does at least seem to have realised that very little of what she says actually makes any sense. So, she's come up with a cover-all get-out:

I'm full of contradictions - I'm a human.

Well, yes. On the other hand, saying one thing and doing another could suggest another word beginning with 'h', too, couldn't it?

Beth starts by telling us how you wouldn't know how she suffers:
I think what makes me unhappy is how unhappy people are with me. If you're not big you really cannot possibly understand. You can be dead, you could be a drug addict as long as you're not fat. And I think that's so absurd.

If you are big you cannot possibly understand. Yeah, Martin Luther King, you think you're so hard done-by. Matthew Shepard? You had it easy; you don't know discrimination. Lots of people are bullied and picked on for different reasons, Beth, and to suggest that being bigger than other people is not only so much worse than any other bullying flashpoint is a little presumptive, and to claim that smaller people would be incapable of empathising with you is insulting.

Oh, and to suggest that the dead get treated better than the fat is insane - unless nightclubs in the US are markedly different to the UK, I've never heard of bouncers going down the queue picking out the corpses to let them in ahead of everyone else, for example.

The trouble is, of course, that at heart Ditto has an important point - society does treat people of all non-standard body types pretty badly; the constant stream of government reports and Tonight With Trevor McDonalds that focus on obesity, as if it must be a character fault rather than a blanket term covering a range of causes and lifestyles. Ditto could be a powerful voice calling down this - instead, we get "the dead get a better deal".
When I was a kid I had weird idols. I was really into Miss Piggy - she was extremely girly and extremely tough.

I feel like when I was a kid it was just so different. At least you had Cyndi Lauper who totally looked so weird and now it's so Hollywood Paris Hilton. It's a joke.

Beth has clearly been getting good feedback on the Miss Piggy anecdote, and will be using it for the foreseeable future. But was Piggy a great role model?

Yes, she was girly, and tough. On the other hand, she was vain, shallow and self-obsessed and in constant need of male approval to validate her. Added to that, her only response to people with a different point of view was to go "hiiiiii-yaaaa" and hit them, which hardly speaks of a great intellectual powerhouse.

And to suggest that back in the day "you had Cyndi Lauper but now it's Paris Hilton" is a bit of a stretch, too, as if the late 80s were some sort of feninist Eden from which we've fallen. Cyndi Lauper co-existed with Baywatch and, surely, Gwen Steffani isn't a million-miles away from Lauperesque "mainstream pop dressed up as slightly kooky" stylings?
We said no to Top Shop - it was really important for me not to take money that they offered, not to take the bait and be sure and strong in myself. But the thing is I'd still wear Top Shop. I'm full of contradictions - I'm a human.

Well, yes. And you're working with one of their designers, which suggests a little more than "contradiction".
It's so obvious but so deep about our culture, and what it says about women and their worth in the world.

To be a zero and like, that is your ultimate goal - not to be smart, or appreciated, or be an amazing artist, or be an amazing nurse or doctor or lawyer.

The biggest thing in your world is to be nothing - I think that is so intense. How about getting rid of the zero and putting a number to that, even if it's a small number? People are naturally small.

Now, here there's actually a good point there - the idea of aspiration to zero is a strange one; a wish to disappear completely which keys in to some motivation that some anorexics talk about.

But if you're worried about people killing themselves inspired by catwalks, isn't "changing the number" of size zero to some whole number a little odd? The eye-catching "zero" gave a hook on which a lot of the reaction to super-thin models could be hung - would headlines talking about "Girls starving themselves to get to size four" have created such a reaction? - and, surely, an unhealthy bodyshape is an unhealthy bodyshape regardless of what you call it; calling it something warmer might actually be an encouragement and endorsement?

Oh... and "people are naturally small", are they, Beth? Does that mean larger people are, in some way, unnatural? You clearly have no idea how larger people suffer, young lady. Treated worse than the dead, they are.

Oh, no, hang on - apparently people aren't "naturally small" after all:
Some people are just really big, some people are short, some people are tall, some people have blue eyes, some people are completely blind - that's the real world.

But what people want to tell you is that the real world is harsh and cruel and the reality is that if you're fat and ugly no one will ever like you.

That's not true - that's not reality. Real life is your skin, your flesh, your heart, your blood, walking down the street. That's real life.

We're not quite sure what this means - it sounds a little bit like one of those pointless cod-philosophical waffle-burps that Mohinder does at the start of Heroes ("When we evolve, change comes suddenly. But a slow evolution does not mean that the door must always be closed to the instant alteration - for, in the blink of an eye, everything can be altered, and yet remain exactly the same..."). Ditto suggested at the start of the interview that life being larger is cold and harsh, but now she seems to be suggesting that it isn't. And if "people" will tell you that the real world is harsh and cruel and nobody will ever like you, but that isn't the real world, then who are the people telling you you're shit? Are they made-up?

But really, the saddest part of the rambling quote is this:
"[I]f you're fat and ugly no one will ever like you"

Even Beth yanks together 'fat' and 'ugly', as if they're synonyms. That's quite heartbreaking.


Anonymous said...

So now people don't like her because she's fat? I agree, that's a terrible reason to dislike someone, even if you are as worryingly obese as Ditto, and given the number of other reasons there are to dislike Ditto, like you know the whole not-having-a-very-nice-personality thing, it seems you'd have to be downright horrible to dislike her for that reason but isn't this is exactly what she does to thin models when she constantly criticises them for nothing more than their weight. I mean this whole "role model" argument could easily be used against her. She isn't a good role model. She's fat. Overweight. Obese. Full stop. Period. What ever you want to use. If she doesn't do something soon she's going to have serious problems. I saw some of the television coverage of her at Glastonbury on YouTube and I was shocked at how unstable she was at the end of the performance. She dived, nay stumbled, into the audience, only the audience couldn't hold her and she hit the ground. It took three BIG members of security to struggle to get her out. She then stumbled over to the side of the stage and practically collapsed. Now I can see that this is the reverse of what Ditto is complaining about with models but I rarely see these models going about announcing their hatred for her kind purely because they present an unacceptable image of the body. I've never heard them declare, with homophobic vigour, that it's all the fault of gay men. Who's the worst role model of the two?

David said...

Congratulations Simon on yet another successful dissection and demolition on everybody's least favourite one hit wondered gimmicky pop star who's outstayed its welcome.

Anonymous said...

"Even Beth yanks together 'fat' and 'ugly', as if they're synonyms"

And you consider 'fat' to have positive associations? I'm not going to reproach myself for finding morbid obesity unattractive.

I can understand her campaigning against people discriminating against porkers because of the whole "vicious cycle" thing but her 'fat and proud' stance is ridiculous. Nobody wants to look like a whale.

Lulu said...

"You can be dead, you could be a drug addict as long as you're not fat."

Poor Pavarotti. Now he's fat and dead. Society will never accept him.

Do we know what Beth's thoughts on Britney's new "fat" look are? Only being of a smaller persuasion myself, I need the Official Fat Spokeswoman to tell me what I'm supposed to think.

Janne said...

"Yes, she was girly, and tough. On the other hand, she was vain, shallow and self-obsessed and in constant need of male approval to validate her. Added to that, her only response to people with a different point of view was to go "hiiiiii-yaaaa" and hit them, which hardly speaks of a great intellectual powerhouse."

Coffee on keyboard time here.

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