Tag Archive for: Privilege
As you know by now, Steve Jobs has passed away. I say this with confidence, although it is perhaps a little shortsighted; like (I suspect) so many others in the community of the tech-oriented internet, the news that he’d died seemed to instantly transmit itself into my consciousness. My barrier between in person and digital interfaces really is that thin.
I wrote on Twitter that Steve Jobs had a vision of the world that made me believe passion can exist and be cherished within business. That’s really what I understood about him, from an outside perspective: that he was passionate, that he was fanatical, and that he was successful. Immensely so.
Rest in peace, Steve.
My first job out of college was as a Mac Specialist at the Apple Store in Soho. What I remember most about that job was the company’s brand, the way it permeated every surface and every decision and every piece of corporate culture that touched its employees. That job is really where I cut my teeth on the idea of branding, that companies have stories and characters the way that people do, that those stories can be shaped, and that the process and impact of doing so is completely fascinating.
Last night I did a consultation with Zac’s new company on developing language to communicate their brand identity. I put the founders in a circle and made them talk about values, and themselves. And it was fun, incredibly fun. So fun that this morning I started researching if there is a way to get a graduate degree in branding. Because that’s how my mind works: if it’s fun it could be a career, and if it’s a career then someone is teaching how to do it. I realize this doesn’t always hold up, but there you go.
It’s hard to separate Steve Jobs from Apple, so intricately is he linked to the Apple brand. Thankfully it’s not as hard to separate my genuine sadness and sympathy for his family from the anger I’m currently dealing with in regards to the newest Apple release. Someone who made an immense impact upon my world and circles has died, and that is sad. And Apple has released Siri, their new voice-activated “personal assistant” program, and the way they handled the product’s branding fills me with frustration.
My issue with Siri, in brief, is that apparently no one on the Apple branding team stopped to think that it might be a wee bit problematic to release a personal assistant application with a female name, and to advertise it exclusively with a female voice. Skimming the Twitter chatter during the release quickly confirmed for me that while Apple may not be explicitly gendering the product as female, its users will. Yes, this is precisely what we need: the institutionalized sexism of human-to-human interactions duplicated in human-to-robot interactions.
This is a great example of a time when my first thought is that I’m angry, and my second thought is that I may be overreacting. Maybe I am being a crazy feminist, my contradictory brain says. Maybe it’s not such a big deal. Maybe it was too expensive to release multiple voices. Maybe they just weren’t thinking.
And then I’m angry again, because I know the Apple brand, and I can tell that they think about details obsessively, and that they do everything consciously. So I have to assume that a group of creatives sat around a table and came up with this product, language and branding concept. In addition, I have to assume that someone along the way probably said, “Hey, do you think this might be sexist?” and that someone at Apple with the authority to approve branding decisions responded with “No.” Or maybe, “A little bit, but that’s really not the point.” Or even, “I think that may be overly sensitive.”
That makes me angry, Apple. The reality is that I am a woman, and I am a lover of Apple products, and the very first thing I thought as I watched the coverage of the release of Siri was that it was a shitty move to make the application implicitly female-gendered. Not that it was cool, or shiny, or that I wanted to get my hands on it right this very instant; no. I thought, “I hope people hold off for a little while before they start making terrible secretary jokes.”
I expected better, Apple. Branding fail.
Yesterday morning A Practical Wedding started a discussion about weight. I played in the comments, and we talked about privilege. I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege recently; I feel sometimes as though I lack some of the basic language and tenets I need in order to express myself appropriately. It is an interesting and humbling experience. (See also, this post from the Double R Diner on writing from a privileged perspective. See also, this post on the basics of privilege. See also, my inability to adequately explain that a privilege check is not a judgment; it is a reminder intended to further positive dialogue, and can be meant in a kind and helpful manner.)
Then, after I went out for lunch, I started trying to write a post about being a fat ally. (See also, an interesting conversation about the problematic nature of the term “ally.”) I put a shout-out on Twitter and got back some awesome results (complete list of links and references at the bottom of this post):
But last night, as I came back to the post and tried to find a way to finish it, I realized I was totally stumped. Because of this: The Tim Ferris Diet. Which I have been on for the past four weeks. I was stuck staring at a screen with a single sentence on it and a tiny, blinking, blank cursor below: Can I be a fat ally if I’m on a diet?
And it seems the answer, my personal answer, may be no. No, I cannot.
I could give you a lot of reasons why I have been on this diet. Like, I feel healthier. I have more energy. I don’t need as much caffeine to get me through the day. But the reality is those are sideline benefits, most of which are probably because I’m sleeping more. I have been on this diet because I wanted to be thinner than I am. Period. End of story.
(Because when I am thinner, oh you might ask, because when I am thinner I will be sexier/be better able to wear the clothes I want/be ready to dye my hair and get another tattoo/be more successful in my job/be more in line with what my lovers consider attractive/ be more loved.)
Finding myself in something of a literary corner, I clicked more links. I read the archives of blogs I have only followed in current form, thus far. And I ended up here.
Once you’ve really started believing in fat acceptance — as opposed to thinking it sounds nice for other people, but you still need to lose X lbs. before you’ll be acceptable — it can be hard to remember how you thought about these issues before (just as it can be hard to imagine what it would really be like to accept your fat body before you’ve done it).
Praise and adore the power of the Internet. Someone further along in their journey than me put into words exactly what I needed to hear, and then they put it online where I could find it.
So I have decided, “Fuck this bullshit.” I’m sick of diets that don’t work and I’m sick of feeling ashamed of myself when I’m on them, and more ashamed when I’m not. I’m sick of buying clothes that don’t fit and convincing myself they’ll fit once I’m thinner. (What the fuck? Am I a seamstress or not?) I’m sick of the reality that I still buy into cultural messaging that I believe to be damaging and wrong, as though it’s enough to acknowledge that it is damaging while ignoring that it is damaging me.
Of course it is not this simple; I cannot bop my body issues on the head with a magic wand and say “Begone!” I did not wake up this morning refreshed and fancy free of all possible troubles related to my body.
But I can make some active changes in the way I think about, talk about, and present my body, changes that have been brewing unconsciously for some time but have yet to be realized.
Like, spending the time I would typically use to worry about the “right” kind of food hunting down things to eat that are delicious.
Like, altering my problem clothing so that it fits better.
Like, photo blogging about fashion and what I wear on a daily basis, which I have never done because I am loathe to share pictures of myself so openly with the world.
Like, starting a newborn, shellacked and sparkle-eyed Tumblr to hold all of these new resolutions.
Like, reminding myself every day that I am of my own making, that my flaws are not intricately bound to my weight, and that I have control over my own narrative, lifestyle, appearance and dreams.
As I said, I did not wake up this morning refreshed and fancy free. But I did wake up with red hair.
P.S. Because Twitter has produced a ton of awesome links about the topic of fat acceptance and fat allies, here is a reference list for anyone who’s looking:
NOLOSE. “who we are.” Accessed April 4, 2011. http://www.nolose.org/about/who.php
Lesley Kinzel. “Two Whole Cakes.” Accessed April 6, 2011. http://blog.twowholecakes.com/
Kate Harding. “Kate Harding.” Accessed April 6, 2011. http://kateharding.info/
Marianne Kirby. “The Rotund.” Accessed April 5, 2011. http://www.therotund.com/
Erin Majestic Legay, December 2009, “FAT SOLIDARITY: THE BASICS,” INNER FAT GIRL. Accessed April 6, 2011. http://innerfatgirl.tumblr.com/post/1711026325
Shannon, April 5, 2011, “FA for not fat people and noobs.,” Nudemuse…daily nattering. http://blog.nudemuse.org/2011/04/fa-for-not-fat-people-and-noobs.html?zx=6d1b4cfe62eca705
Meems, April 5, 2011, “How to be a good FA ally,” The Inbetweenie. https://theinbetweenie.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/how-to-be-a-good-fa-ally/
The Chicago Manual of Style Online. “Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide.” http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html