A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Size Discrimination Comes In All Sizes

This is Bill (with and without the makeup he usually wears, and with his slightly less flamboyant brother):

As the frontman for the German band, Tokio Hotel, he might be simultaneously one of the most loved and hated people in all of Europe from what I can tell. Despite being relatively polite (he bows when shaking hands, it’s quite adorable) people find him dreadfully threatening, or they totally love him. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of in between ground. I kind of suspect the problem is that he isn’t gay; if he was it would be like “oh, okay then, wear makeup – you’re fine!” But he actually has the audacity to be straight and still mess with people’s heads like that, which seems to piss them off, and amuses me to no end.

As always, people who can’t easily be crammed into one box or another get roughed up a bit.

I enjoy his band and their music a great deal; they’re like a throwback to everything I loved about the late 80’s and early 90’s in pop rock and roll (oddly, it was totally okay for rock stars to wear makeup then, I’m not sure why it’s not now).

I also think that Bill is one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever personally seen.

I am not alone in this opinion; there are a LOT of people who agree with me. This kid gets away with turning his hair into a giant palm tree, dressing like a disco ball, dancing like a scarecrow and wearing more makeup than Tammy Faye Baker and girls still throw themselves (and their underwear) at him on a regular basis.

Despite all that I strongly suspect that his self esteem actually isn’t all that great.

The world frowns deeply on two things: women who are too big, and men who are too small. And Bill Kaulitz, despite being over six feet tall, is a small guy. He’s a VERY thin guy. Observe:

I don’t think he’s unhealthy, I’m pretty sure that’s just the way he naturally looks. He’s been famous since he was about thirteen and he’s always had the same body type so if he had an eating disorder I doubt he’d still be alive. Also he lives with his identical twin brother (yeah, there’s two of them that look like this) who would undoubtedly have done something by now if he was starving himself.

My point is this; when you’re overweight people are at least a little delicate about your issues. For the most part, they still try to be discreet when telling you that you could stand to loose a few pounds. When you’re thin, especially if you’re a thin guy, especially if you’re a thin famous guy it’s pretty much a free for all. According to European press Bill has been in imminent danger of death from “Manorexia” for… well… I guess most of his life. They analyze they criticize, they demean.

You never, ever see this kid with his shirt off, from what I can tell he never wears shorts either – and gee, I wonder why? The flurry of obnoxious feedback would probably be more than even he could deal with. And despite one entertainingly John Lennon-esque moment I saw where he got fed up and simultaneously smiled pretty, accepted an award and cleverly verbally body-slammed the media into submission he seems to take it all with pretty good humor.

I often champion the cause of the overweight and healthy but in this instance I have to give some attention to the other side of the coin. Skinny girls get bad feedback too, but heck help you if you’re a slim guy. Especially here in America that is just a no-go.

When will it be possible to simply accept people the way they are? When will it ever be enough?


  1. This is not size discrimination at all. If Bill Kaulitz ditched the makeup and grew a beard, none of the same resentment would be there.

    It's a form of aggravated jealousy. Men never feel desirable. The guy who wrote the article I linked won an award as "America's Hottest Professor", but still doesn't feel desirable. The culture says men cannot be desired. If we see a hot man in a commercial, it's comedy. He's guaranteed to be upstaged a few seconds later by butter. If you compliment a man, he doesn't really internalize it. If a woman says something nice about my looks, and I take it in at all, it means to me that she'd like to see me across the table in an expensive restaurant where I'll be picking up the tab, not that she'd like to see me naked in her bed.

    It's the fault of media culture, not the fault of real women, and it's sad that media culture has so much more influence than what we hear from the real people around us. You already know all about that.

    But it seems like there's one exception to the rule that men can't be attractive. That's men who look like drag kings. Bill Kaulitz, for example, has none of the physical characteristics associated with growing up with significant levels of androgens; e.g. strong jaw, facial hair, bone growth (broad shoulders), muscle growth. Bill could easily be a woman dressed as a man. Men feel like the only way they can be attractive is by looking like a woman, and resent the hell out of it, and men who can and do take that route to attractiveness get the resentment poured onto them.

  2. This may also be a corolary of the Uncanny Valley or Uncanny divide.

    Here I am ignoring "technology" reference and substitute sexual cues like makeup or dress style..
    "cf. body modification), ... So long as these enhancements remain within a perceived norm of human behavior, a negative reaction is unlikely, but once individuals supplant normal human variety, revulsion can be expected.... "pageant retouching" photos, especially of children, which some[32] find disturbingly doll-like."
    There seems to be an effect from an instinctive level to reject someone who is not a healthy functionally "normal" member of a tribe. People often notice a level of variation at some visceral level and act defensively to reject the outsider. Hence Geeks/Nerds are often rejected because seen as too affected by non-intutive motivations like a poor self-image that is then interpreted as aloofness or lack of interest in "normal activities." Normal is subjective so it's going to be a variable effect.

  3. of course there are reasons we may not protect our gene pool from all the "freaky" people. http://www.fotolog.com/breakfast_cereal/53371972