Ridiculous men in dresses, calling themselves women – how we love to praise them!
Handmaidens applauding left, right and centre, potential Prime Ministers who can’t even spit out a description of ‘woman’, politicians who ‘see people’s souls’. So perhaps it should come as no surpise that everyone’s favourite girly girl aka Eddie Izzard is wanting to move into a career in politics, running for parliament as MP for Sheffield Central. The October press was all over this, unctuously declaring its support and- always, always- referring to this parody of womanhood as ‘she’. Kellie-Jay Keen (aka Posie Parker) has said she will stand against him. Now, if that happens, I’ll be getting the popcorn out.
Keir Starmer (leader of the opposition) whose thoughts on being a woman stretch to ‘for 99% of women it’s a matter of biology’ recently refused to say whether Izzard would qualify for an all-women shortlist. Labour MP Rosie Duffield- who actually is both stunning and brave- had already announced, “I’m absolutely not the only Labour woman MP who will leave the party if Eddie Izzard gets on to an all-women shortlist.”
Eddie has revealed that he will not be applying. Not because for a man to do so would be completely fucking unreasonable and absurd but ‘because,’ he tells the Grauniad, with a stunning lack of self awareness, ‘I’m gender fluid’.
If Eddie is successful, he should feel right at home with the gaggle of fawning parliamentarians who profess to be unable to define what a woman is. It’s enough to make you sick all over your sexy summer wardrobe.
Back In August, Izzard was photographed out and about wearing a pretty little Zara dress, spun in lightweight pink and white cotton and sporting a button front and very short hemline. The press informed us that Izzard was ‘rocking’ the £32.99 dress, which I have to say left a lot of us feeling somewhat incredulous. I am a similar age to Monseigneur Izzard, although with a (slightly) less expansive waistline and I can only think that Zara must have changed their sizing policy since the last time I was in there: I’ve never found a Zara dress I could comfortably pour myself into. Which might explain why Monsigneur Izzard went for the clingy look.
As fashionista Twist says to Marsha in Spaced, “I can really see what you were trying to do there.”
No, I’m not being very gracious. Eddie has no more of a gut than many men his age. Why shouldn’t he wear a dress? Yada yada.
Let’s not forget that until a recently as 2015, Izzard was very clear that wearing a dress didn’t make you a woman. My issue is with the fact that now he does. And with the fact that he can go out looking a right state in a dress that doesn’t fit and everyone gushes about how great he looks.
This does not happen to women.
“You can’t wear that!”
We have so very many double standards for men and women & they seems to prevail even when those men are claiming to be women. Men’s weight is rarely commented on in the media. If a female celebrity Izzard’s size had squeezed herself into that dress I’m pretty sure the press would have been screaming ‘woman looks fat! Is she pregnant? Fashion faux pas for feisty fifty-something!’ Etc etc…
While Izzard was ‘ready for summer’ and ‘giving off summer vibes’, when Queen Letizia of Spain wore the same dress she came in for criticism. It was obviously impossible to infer that she was ‘too fat’, instead ‘fans’ (aka the press) speculated as to whether she was ‘too old’ to wear it. Letizia is almost a decade younger than Izzard.
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where we weren’t judged as ‘too old’ or ‘too fat’ to dress as we liked? Where we could just wear something because we liked it, without judgement? But that isn’t how it works. Men become distinguished, women get old. Men take up space, women are fat. Queen Letizia is seen as getting above herself – whatever is she thinking? Eddie is stunning & brave. Can you guess which is the man? Shhhh. Don’t be a bigot.
Izzard has more important things than sexism on his mind. Himself.
“I’m still gender-fluid.” Izzard told Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year, “I’m still performing male roles in dramas, in boring mode. But stand-up, activism and endurance running are all girl mode.’ “
It’s all very convenient. The term ‘womanface’ is a somewhat controversial one with its close and controversial alliance to ‘blackface’- a major difference being that unlike skincolour, the trappings of femininity can theoretically be discarded by women should they so choose. Izzard however, with his fake breasts and his talk of ‘boy mode’ and ‘girl mode’, clearly sees ‘womanhood’ as a costume, declaring himself to be a woman only when he’s sporting froufrou clothing, heels and a ton of slap. How anyone can view this as anything other than wildly insulting to actual women bemuses me.
But how would we know he was a woman otherwise?
So while Eddie is out and about with his fake tits, his badly-applied foundation and his pregnancy belly let’s have a quick look at what is going on across the pond, where another overweight man is making waves by- you guessed it- covering himself in gawdy clothing and loads of make up and declaring himself a woman.
No, I’m not referring to infamous Canadian Jonathan ‘Jessica’ Yanif, who sued a beautician for refusing to wax his balls and a beauty pageant for refusing him entry. Oh, and pissed off the local firebrigade by repeatedly calling them to hoist him out of the bath. Yanif eventually caused red flags to be raised after speculating about showing 12 year olds how to use a tampon & posting ‘bathroom selfies’ with schoolgirls in the background. The Yanif story was peak trans for many women. The tale is an incredible one, but you’ve almost certainly heard it before. This isn’t about him.
This is a very different story. It happened just last week in a small town in New Hampshire, with a population of around 35,000.
Meet Brian Nguyen.
Brian has just been crowned Miss Greater Derry 2023.
Brian (she/her/hers) is a 19 year old Freshman at Nashua Community College. Going forward he plans to create ‘sustainable, ethical, and inclusive products such as clothing, cosmetics, and accessories’ and ‘to continue to grow my career in the modeling and social media industry’.
Brian (now pronounced Bree-Ann) has an Instagram account featuring a speech where he talks about fat shaming, leading ‘authentic lives’ and various other bits of bland meaningless feel-good twaddle. An example?
‘I can be proud of myself,’ he declares, ‘because I decided to thrive’.
Brian is a self-described social media influencer with over 50k followers on TikTok where he flicks his hair about, does some little dances and describes himself as a ‘plus model and advocate for marginalised women’.
The irony of the situation is, of course, that a fat woman would not win a beauty pageant, even if she were stereotypically beautiful, because regular pageants are about conforming to certain stereotypes and being overweight is not one of them. A quick Google shows that while there are pageants for ‘curvy girls’ and women with disabilities or medical conditions, hugely overweight women do not win regular pageants or beauty contests.
A fat girl can’t win, but a fat guy? Well hey, why not?
The American pageant scene is very different from the lesser found ‘beauty contests’ of the UK. Some girls undergo training for years to take part and start competing very young. Being a Pageant Queen is highly valued in many places- it looks great on your college application and can even tip the balance on admissions.
When the winner of a pageant is announced, so I am told, it’s traditional for the other contenders to clap and shriek with joy; to act as if they couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.
As you can see, the young women below comply perfectly and express their delight effusively.
Brian has a ‘social impact initiative’ #QueensAreEverywhere which aims to “helps the next generation develop self-confidence, realize their potential, and become the leaders of their destiny”. I couldn’t find out anything about it online although, although I did watch a livestream with that hashtag where he talks to another pageant queen and they whoop excitedly over her little dog. Brian now hopes to expand his hashtag into in-person events and appearances.
What of Brian’s social media presence? In one video on tikTok, (lower left above) he struts around in a swimsuit, his objective being to show how he no longer cares if people call him fat or a man. In another video (lower right above) he shares photos of himself before and after make up application, hair brushing and clothing changes.
It’s all very superficial and ‘me, me, me’. One might be forgiven for thinking that Brian’s performance was, well, pretty much that of your average drag queen if it wasn’t for a couple of important points.
The main one – and this he has in common with Eddie- is that for some reason people take him seriously. I’m not talking about his advocacy: the politics of the ‘fat is fun & fab’ movement is a whole other can of worms. I mean that people take him seriously as a woman. They use his preferred pronouns. They are willing, for all intents and purposes, to pretend they think he IS a woman and claim that anyone who doesn’t is a ‘transphobe’.
Hence he describes himself as a ‘trans asian woman of colour’ and nobody bats an eyelid. He claims that he is ‘an advocate for marginalised women’ and that’s just fine and dandy. The adults- because lets face it he is practically a chjild himself- not only let him enter but they let him win a women’s beauty contest! And oh, how perfectly the young women gush & gasp and pretend they are delighted when he is announced the winner! Every one gaslit by gender ideology. It is not reasonable, it is not kind and it most certainly is not fair.
This is where ‘be kind’ has got us. Let’s try ‘be truthful’. The picture below shows a group of tiny, beaming women and girls in skimpy outfits surrounding a chubby bloke in a full length flowing gown, his blokey hands grasping all the prizes.
It takes the absurdity of self-ID to a whole new level. The picture is pure #peaktrans.
We are all expected to pretend we see a woman. But none of us do.
“We know he’s not a woman because if a woman looked like he does she wouldn’t have entered a beauty pageant in the first place.“ observed @CAMOCAT6 on Twitter.
“There are some incredibly beautiful fat women out there who would never enter a beauty competition because they KNOW they haven’t a snowball in hells chance of winning….. But this chancer……” added @Highlandelder
“They (the women) look exactly like kindergarten teachers applauding a child reading a new word in a book. Or sticking tissue paper and googly eyes to a toilet roll.” noted @millicent_pea
“Vacuous tradition that reduces females to their looks now reduces them to cheering on penis-peoples participation yaay” pointed out @emmajohanes3
“And if he was female he wouldn’t even have been chosen to enter. Being overweight and male has never been a barrier to men before so why would anything change now?” observed @thisfemaletruth
“Sadly no women looking like that would have qualified” tweeted @lesleymcdonald “Not only are females being disrespected they have to be seen to be complicit, celebrating their relegation to second, third & unplaced, by an obvious male. As an example of oppression of women it’s up there, and pretty sad.”
But this is about more than the absurdity of a fat bloke winning a beauty pageant and everyone clapping. Because money and prestige are involved.
As @NinoushkaLondon pointed out, “this is not just a ‘beauty pageant’ they award scholarships to the winners. So Brian has just taken a scholarship away from a young woman.”
What’s in it for him?
The Miss Greater Derry Scholarship Program, Inc. has been providing scholarship opportunities to young women in the Greater Derry area since 1987.
A preliminary event to Miss New Hampshire and onwards to Miss America, the pageant’s rather dated website has not been updated since 2017. It does tell us that in 2003 it was the third highest awarding pageant in the United States and that in 2003 it awarded $28,450 in scholarships.
At least seven previous Miss Greater Derry winners have gone on to become Miss New Hampshire. We know that In 2021, the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Foundation granted $100,000 in scholarships to the 26 contestants who competed after winning their local titles. The winner of the title received $20,000.
These scholarships could make a huge difference to the educational opportunities of some of these young women, especially those from poorer backgrounds.
“Totally sad system that in order to get an education one has to prance in front of people and smile if one is poor“ observed @Tea94852859
Poor or not, and whether you think young women’s pageants are a chance for them to let their inner beauty and skills shine through, or cattle grounds of misogyny and exploitation, surely we should all be able to agree that Brian had no place in this one?
If men are to be allowed to compete, the scholarship program should be throw open to both sexes.
How did he win?
Information given out to contestants for the 2017 pageant read “you will compete in a 10 minute interview, talent presentation (1:30 minutes max), presence and poise in eveningwear, and physical fitness in swimsuit (Miss Division), Fitness (Teen Division). addition, you will be asked one onstage question.”
To win, Brian presumably excelled in each of these categories: articulate in interview, sparklingly talented, composing himself with poise & grace in eveningwear and looking both hot and healthy in swimwear.
There can be no other explanation.
Why does it matter?
Because Brian won, a young woman lost out. She didn’t get to win. She doesn’t get her photo in the paper, she doesn’t get to wear the sash and the tiara. Most importantly, she doesn’t get the financial help for her education which she she worked so hard for, which she rightly deserved and earned. We don’t even know who the real Miss Greater Derry might have been. Want to talk about erasure? There it is, right there.
Miss Greater Derry‘s facebook page is kept up to date. Its profile picture is currently of Brian dwarfing the younger girl who won the junior event. What must have been going through that poor child’s head I can only imagine. She will, of course, have been thoroughly briefed on how to react & advised to keep smiling throughout. After all, it isn’t really about her, is it?
Fatness & Feminism
As Susie Orbach stated back in the 70s, Fat is a Feminist Issue.
While it is true that larger women are getting more representation in the media, they are always young and conventionally pretty. Acceptance of larger women is almost entirely of the ‘hey fatty, you can look sexy too!” kind. Likewise the acceptance of older women in advertising is based almost entirely on the grounds that older women must be slim and conventionally attractive. And larger and older women must be ‘healthy’ of course, mentally and physically, or at least pretending to be.
Men of course, can be pretty much however they want, although they do seem to worry a lot about going bald.
Women definitely can’t be old and fat and plain because the media would have no idea how to depict that as sexy. The idea that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ does not sit well with the media. What value have women if they’re not being at least 2/3 sexy?
Discussing our culture’s perception of overweight women and how they are portrayed may well make us uncomfortable, but it is important that we do it. The darker side of the ‘body positivity’ movement means that often when we try, accusations of ‘fat shaming’ abound. Even overweight women who wish to start a discussion around the issue are accused of having ‘internalised fatphobia’ or being abelist. While a bit of extra body fat protects our organs and keeps us warm, many people now believe that it’s perfectly healthy to be obese.
Weight has become one of those issues where there is a currently prescribed narrative that we are all expected to follow. Currently, we aren’t supposed to criticise the idea of fatness. Avoiding the phrases ‘being fat’ or ‘I’m fat’ makes sense, of course- fat is something that we have, not something that we are. But fat is the problem here and when we circumnavigate the issue by using non-specifc words and euphemisms like ‘larger’ or ‘heavy’ we ignore that. Women are told that they should be both slim and healthy but at the same time believe there is nothing wrong with being obese. Of course some overweight people are healthy and some slim people aren’t. But obesity is not healthy and we shouldn’t pretend it is. The normalisation of obesity is also linked to fat fetishism and ‘feeder’ culture, where men further objectify and disempower women by encouraging them to eat to the point of incapacity.
When we don’t talk about the problems associated with being overweight, we shut down important discussion surrounding issues such as the mental heath problems causing many women to overeat in the first place, as well as the health problems involved with carrying large amounts of body fat. Our hearts and lungs come under more pressure when we have more body fat. The much higher doses of radiation necessary to x-ray overweight people can increase their risk of cancer. We die younger.
But our bodies grow old, they become damaged, they wear out. We hold ourselves to impossible standards, we are not perfect. We need to be kinder to ourselves. It is not good for us to be fat, not because patriarchy doesn’t like it, but because it is not good for us: not for our physical and mental health, nor for our life expectancy.
And TV and advertising never ease up on us with their endless maze of contradictions. When a healthy diet fad becomes popular (think veganism) it is pounced on by the processed food market and regurgitated into more unhealthy gloop to guilt trip us with. Food magazines offer us cake and chips and the same publishers sell us diet magazines.
Our preconceptions about weight are everywhere. Most women are more likely to ask a friend if she has lost a few pounds rather than if she’s gained a few pounds, because the assumption is that most women would rather weigh less. While the ‘ideal woman’ on TV and in advertising wears a size 8 the average UK woman wears a size 16. Yup, the average UK woman is ‘plus size’.
Musician Lizzo discusses media attitudes to fat women (her words) here and here. She has yoyo dieted herself and is concerned with the difficulties and problems facing larger women. She worries about the inadequate medical care they receive, observing ‘plus-size Black women are still not getting the treatment they deserve in hospitals and from doctors’.
Reasons other than over-eating and unhealthy food choices can cause weight gain, certain medical conditions or medication for example. Dieting is known to cause weight gain, and a repeated cycle of weight loss and gain can change our metabolism. We get stressed. We develop eating disorders, sometimes small, sometimes vast, around food. Stress hormones act on fat cells to increase abdominal fat. We get fed up. We can’t sleep. We eat more. We can’t win.
Women should be concerned about maintaining a healthy body weight: not so we better conform to patriarchy’s idea of what looks fuckable, but so we are healthy.
Women in the media are expected to be young and skinny and pretty, but once in a while they are permitted to break one of the rules. They can be old and skinny and pretty or young and fat and pretty. This validates the myth that we live in as culture that supports diversity.
But the big triumvirate is : young, skinny, pretty. You must always score at least two out of three.
Unless you’re a man.