Barbara Kay: Jordan Peterson enters choppy waters in Sports Illustrated swimsuit controversy

It’s not fair to force people to truly affirm that they see beauty in things they find objectionable

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Canada’s most notorious cultural gadfly, Jordan Peterson, is a brave man. He looked at Yumi Nu, the busty swimsuit model on the cover of last month’s Sports Illustrated (SI) swimsuit issue, and didn’t hesitate. Comment on Twitter“Sorry. Not beautiful. No amount of authoritarian tolerance will change that.”

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The backlash was so swift and so severe that Peterson announced he was quitting the social network. Societal attention to “fat phobia” appears to be back. In its original incarnation, feminists associated obesityphobia with patriarchy. Their theories spawned a field of study called “fat studies,” which is premised on the premise that unhealthy fat is “part of an oppressive, patriarchal beauty myth that forces women to remain traditionally attractive and refined, and Doesn’t take up much space.”

It appears that women are largely resisting this so-called patriarchal pressure. A Johns Hopkins study found that more than half of college-aged Americans are overweight or “obese,” a term thought to trigger anti-fatphobia activists, according to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health. Should be replaced by “bigger body.”

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Peterson announces he is quitting the social network

Alas, manipulating words does not alter physical reality. Established science believes that weight and health deficiencies are closely related. As a poignant example, a study in the United States found that nearly 80 percent of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were either overweight or overweight.

I have “personal experience” with this issue because my mother’s house had larger bodies. Jealousy of being slim has always bothered me. I sympathize with all the losers in the genetic lottery that play a big role in weight gain. I agree that obesity is an outdated vehicle for humor. I know the obsession with losing weight is a class or a culture. I know some guys are attracted to bigger girls.

But I have a healthy respect for reality. Even if we all agree that our culture is wrongly obsessed with physical perfection (and not just women), our understanding doesn’t automatically translate into admiration for magnitude.

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Body shape trends change over time and place. Kings and queens may have been fat before Edwardian times, but thin royals are essential these days. A 16th-century painter of full-bodied women might find the angularity of the average SI model unpleasant. What is considered beautiful in Samoa is not considered beautiful in France.

Popular fashion catalogs a few years ago started featuring older women as their baby boomer clientele were aging. But their silver-haired models are still slender and lovely at their age. This is a marketing decision. Now, due to the rising weight of all demographic groups, they have launched plus-size models. It’s also a marketing decision. (But their plus-size models wore modesty-themed stealth swimsuits.)

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Unlike companies like Lands’ End, however, SI doesn’t sell swimwear. It sells women’s beauty (at least its annual swimwear issue does). The magazine’s Yumi Nu cover aggressively proclaims: A woman can be a beach belle of any weight, dare we say you don’t (Dare Peterson). If the SI editors really believed it, they would have gotten into the habit of this cover. The chances of this happening are slim (excuse the expression).

As an extension of the complaint against Virtue Signal Magazine, it’s also unfair to limit reasonableness in the name of diversity in the entertainment industry. Sometimes untrustworthiness is inevitable. There is no huge pool of high-end opera talent, so opera audiences have to get used to suspending beliefs, as in the German opera “Elektra,” Orestes’ exclamation: “What have they done to you? They starved to death.” Are you? Your cheeks are too hollow,” was delivered to the fat Erica. (But interestingly, if you noticed, both male and female opera singers are slimmer than they used to be.)

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But in other forms of entertainment—stage, screen, television—the actor pool is huge, and it’s a buyer’s market for quality performances across all racial, gender, ethnic, and linguistic boundaries. Diversity and rationality can easily coexist in harmony. If the acting is superb, I can forget it’s the woman who played Cassius in Julius Caesar. Black, white or brown makes no difference. But she had to be slim because “Casius looked thin and hungry.”

Why shouldn’t a big woman play a romantic lead?

It’s good that big actors are no longer automatically relegated to comedy foil roles. Why shouldn’t a big woman play a romantic lead? There is absolutely no reason. But make it reasonable. In the captivating Netflix film “In Love with Figaro,” the protagonist Millie is played by a very beautiful but fat actor. She is intelligent, kind, accomplished, and personable. Her weight is never mentioned as that fits the point of the film. all is well.

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But in real life, she wouldn’t be paired with her movie boyfriend Charlie, played by a tall, shapely, gorgeous actor with twinkling dark eyes and a charming smile that you couldn’t take your eyes off of. Why can’t her boyfriend look normal?

If they really believed that weight didn’t matter, then Millie wouldn’t have emerged from the bed with a choreographed sex scene completely covered up. Like the SI cover, it’s a gaslighting exercise.

We should strive to suppress judgmentalism in our speeches around obesity. But it’s not fair to force people to truly affirm that what they think is objectionable is beautiful, or to deny that weight is irrelevant in the mating market. We must acknowledge and respect the cultural influences we are subjected to.

National Post

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