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Beth Ditto on the Cover of NME

So there's Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip on the cover of the latest NME. Time Out Chicago's blog is asking if it's a boon for size acceptance or just further "objectification masquerading as empowerment".

On the one hand, this is the first time I can recall seeing a naked fat woman on the cover of a pretty big magazine (but you can and should correct me if it's happened before) without any kind of negative, anti-fat message. On the other hand, it's still a naked woman on the cover of a magazine. (But that digresses into the whole aforementioned objectification question.)

Your thoughts?

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Sheana's picture
Sheana
June 1st, 2007 | Link | Beth Ditto is my fat, feminist hero.

I posted over at Seeworthy, but the main chunk of what I think about this is this:

Beth Ditto is the artist in this shoot. While someone is certainly shooting her, if Beth had declined participating in a nude Beth Ditto shoot… well, they wouldn’t have been able to get another Beth Ditto, or as far as I’m aware another fat, queer feminist punk rocker. Furthermore, unlike the Lo Rider video (or any other music video featuring sexualized fat women), there aren’t men peeking around Ditto’s body or leering at her from the corner of the frame. The focus here is on Beth Ditto as a fat feminist punk artist expressing her subjectivity; we’re viewing her fat naked body because she wants us to, because she realizes that it is a revolutionary act that can advance her cause and her art. Unlike Dworkin or MacKinnon, I get the feeling that Beth Ditto is a fairly pro-sex feminist. As such, she recognizes how being naked in a magazine - even a magazine for men (though this isn't necessarily one targeted towards men) - can be an act of feminist rebellion simply by showing those who consume those images the diversity of bodies.

Lady_Monster's picture
Lady_Monster
June 5th, 2007 | Link | Punk Rock Pro-Sex Feminist

Hi There,
I've been a reader of BFB, and just signed up for real.

I am also a fat feminist punk artist expressing my subjectivity. (Thank you Sheana).
I am a burlesque dancer, nude/lingerie/fetish model (and spoken word/recording artist).
There's more of us out there than you think. We just don't get on the cover of magazines like NME.

I say, KUDOS to Beth and to NME for showing the world another side of her courage, strength and beauty.
I always say, "I love my body, and the way that I look. If someone has a problem with my appearance, that's their problem, not mine." It's that self-love that others will see in Beth Ditto that is the strongest message of all.

Thanks everyone for providing your thoughts and comments. I have been spreading the word about this blog, and what an important means of expression and education it is.

Stephanie
Lady Monster

--The Power and Experience of Your Sexuality is Limitless.
www.ladymonster.com

Notblue June 1st, 2007 | Link | Beth is a Punk Goddess!

She is known for doing a striptease at The Gossip's live shows. She empowers herself and all women when she takes control of her body and allows people to see what they're missing in the mainstream world media. I love everything she stands for. Not to mention all of the fantastic music The Gossip has created, I believe this newest NME cover is causing such a commotion because it normally features scraggly rock-dudes and rarely a woman at all, let alone a large woman. I can't find this issue at my bookstore, but I want to buy it. I want everyone to buy it to send a message to the world that yes, we like big women and there are big beautiful women out there that deserve our attention! Hell yes! Evil

tgeller's picture
tgeller
June 1st, 2007 | Link | Hell, I just think it's hot.

Hell, I just think it's hot.

BTW, there's a bigger picture at http://www.nme.com/magazine.

Kim's picture
Kim
June 1st, 2007 | Link | I've never been able to

I've never been able to decide one way or the other how effectively a woman can use her naked body to make a statement. I pose for a website that bills itself as being punk and alternative... and it's great to see women with tattoos, unusual hair configurations and other non-mainstream nudie girl qualities. But at the end of the day, it's like... guys are jerking off to it still, right? I always detect a lack of reciprocity somehow.

Still, I think Beth is pulling it off better than most in this particular case. I like that they didn't airbrush her so that she just looked like a slightly larger version of the typical "Sex-ay!" silhouette. And love the smooch mark! She's pretty much awesome.

diane June 1st, 2007 | Link | Gee... a nude woman, and

Gee... a nude woman, and she's fat. Hmm...guess with every magazine featuring all those clothed fat women, they decided to get really different and feature a naked one. Oh.. I mean, it's radical and empowering cos she's a fat naked women. Right. Sure. If people buy that as empowering, then I have a bridge to sell..it's in Brooklyn....

GirlyGirl's picture
GirlyGirl
June 1st, 2007 | Link | I want to believe that this

I want to believe that this shot was entirely Beth's idea. Like they said "Hey be on the cover of our magazine" and she said "HEY Y'ALL what if I was NAKED on the cover of your magazine" and there were probably meetings and whatever and then they said "Well, alright but it's naked with a MESSAGE not just... naked." If a music magazine is trying to sell more copies, having a naked FAT WOMAN on the cover is hugely different from having a naked THIN woman on the cover. How many people see this and DON'T think it's hot?

So much of the punk rock "image" seems to be centered around clothes nowadays (like I'm old enough to remember old school punk) and I think that on top of being a statement for size acceptance, this is a statement against image in general. You don't have to be "cool" to like the Gossip. You don't have to be gay or straight, or fat or thin. You just be you and enjoy their music and tra la la we're all happy.

Beth is queer so I doubt very much that she cares if this shot appeals to men. I think it just appealed to Beth and she likes shocking people a little.

This isn't a generic naked fat woman, this is BETH DITTO who is also fat and naked. I think she's on the road to just being HER and not being the sum of her body parts and sexual preferences. Well, I hope so anyway.

I'm sure being outside the norm hoelps but I also believe that her talent is enough to make her HER and not just random singer girl. I hope to one day see an article about her where they don't point out her weight or sexuality and just say LOOK, TALENT!

She makes me proud, with or without clothes. Not because she's a gorgeous, stylish fat woman (and she is) but because she is who she is and she doesn't give a crap.

I will also say this - a couple of friends of mine have been Gossip fans for years. They went to see them at a coffee shop in DeKalb where they were basically the only fans there. She took the time to talk to them, take pictures, hug, etc. They said she was so sweet it was almost weird. And from what I can tell, she hasn't changed at all.

Meowzer June 2nd, 2007 | Link | I see this as a sign that

I see this as a sign that there is a huge backlash a-brewing in the Yewk against all the institutionalized fat hatred there, which is even worse there than it is here. And it took a Yank to do it. Zowee.

Also, Beth has never made a secret of the fact that she is gay and thus doesn't give a flying crap if men jerk off to her picture or not. Although I'm sure many of them will, I doubt that was the point for her. She's a performer. She wants attention. This will get it for her.

And good for her, because not only is she an awesome talent, but plenty of talented young fat girls who might otherwise have hesitated to take the microphone now won't be shy about doing so.

honeybuny June 2nd, 2007 | Link | my two thoughts

1) it's a british magazine and

2) she's totally airbrushed and photoshopped to look smaller than she actually is

those two things annoy me. Sad

Buffpuff's picture
Buffpuff
June 14th, 2007 | Link | I used to be a regular

I used to be a regular reader of the NME when I was a youngpuff and it's definitely not a gender-specific mag.

Honeybuny, I'm not sure why it pisses you off that it's a British magazine. The Gossip have really taken off here big time and, since we are the journalistic fat-bashing capital of the world, that is no mean feat.

Alas, Meowzer, I fear there's no backlash a-brewing, though I fondly wish there was. I think it's just that indie/punk audiences tend to embrace outsiders of various kinds; The Scissor Sisters are also currently bigger in the UK than the US. Still, a lot of folk do seem to have seriously taken to Beth. She's even doing a fortnightly guest spot on The Guardian's problem page.

I'm pretty happy with the cover, despite the obligatory photoshop tweakage; she's still a big, fat, naked in-your-face woman and that's radical enough, especially by UK standards. A couple of our cheaper, nastier, "oops-this-celebrity's-put-on-five-ounces/this-one's-lost-two-let's-all-bitch-about-it" rags recently put the most unflattering candids of Beth semi-naked on stage on the front cover, with headlines to the effect of "I'm Big and I'm Proud". It was obviously done to ridicule and encourage readers to go "eeeeuw". The NME cover is a great corrective in my view given that it seems to have been done on Beth's terms.

stef's picture
stef
June 3rd, 2007 | Link | Thumbs up

All I can say is that I sure wish I had seen this photo when I was a teenaged wannabe rock star but afraid to audition for any bands because I thought they'd all tell me I was too fat.

jportnick's picture
jportnick
June 3rd, 2007 | Link | She looks awesome. I'd love

She looks awesome. I'd love to see that picture on the cover of People, or Time, or some other mainstream publication.

Kunoichi June 3rd, 2007 | Link | ??

she's totally airbrushed and photoshopped to look smaller than she actually is

Why are you so sure? It's hard to tell from such a small picture, and I haven't seen the magazine, so I can't say either way. Still, I don't see any obvious signs of photoshopping except for maybe the lip print - which could've been painted on. Some adjustments to lighting, etc. I can see, but made to look smaller? I don't see that.

xenafu June 4th, 2007 | Link | She's smokin'

Hot! Smiling

Mandark June 5th, 2007 | Link | Looks pretty real to me, FYI

she's totally airbrushed and photoshopped to look smaller than she actually is

I just happened to see this in Somerfield's after I saw this post, so I bought it.

She doesn't look particularly airbrushed to me, except perhaps for a bit of skin smoothing. But then, she is a punk girl who loves her makeup and skin care products, so maybe she just has really nice skin! Stretch marks, underarm hair, and moles are quite clearly visible.

Anyway, the interviewer who actually wrote the article has a fairly irritating style, IMHO, but here are a few of the more interesting fat-related quotes:

"...it's always men who say I've sold out. When I was a child I was handed a hairbrush and told to look good, or be given a baby doll and told, 'these are your options'. Men are given toys like spaceships and Lego bricks--toys that fuel their imagination. You don't have to be a radical feminist to understand the connotations of that--it's obvious conditioning."

"If you're just playing to people who are respecting you and loving you all the time, and people aren't giving you a hard time, then you're not doing anything. It's safe."

The article does mention that The Gossip refused to do in-store appearances at Topshop, because of their lack of large sizes. However, she denies promoting largeness; rather, her response to the "size zero debate" question was "sometimes models are naturally just thin. Like, that's their size." She goes on to say that Condoleeza Rice is more of a travesty than Kate Moss and the size zero phenomenon (and how!), and that women themselves are less to blame for it than the media or fashon designers who treat women like dolls.

With the mention of Topshop, the article then focused on Kate Moss, who is apparently not as size negative as you might think and is "pretty smart". I will reserve judgement, but Ditto apparently offered to design clothes for Topshop--oh please, Topshop, take her up on it because your clothes are crap!! Even on size zero people!

Ditto is wearing an awesome shiny purple dress in one of the photos. I'd love to be able to buy something like that on the high street.

nellicat June 6th, 2007 | Link | I love it. I love the

I love it. I love the lipstick mark: "Kiss my big fat ass!" This is no "for your pleasure" style nude shot, in my opinion. As a feminist, I'm not about to put down another woman's expression of empowerment. In this case especially, her empowerment is not based on the patriarchal definition of beauty - just the opposite, in fact. I vote "yes" for Beth Ditto!

tealou's picture
tealou
June 8th, 2007 | Link | Actually, the image does

Actually, the image does appear to be tweaked.

Her tummy has been reduced and it is out of proportion with her legs, arms and face. Someone with a trained Photoshop eye can pick it.

Here is a bigger version and it becomes more obvious:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kateblack/523922385/

They have reduced the tummy area by a couple of inches, and smoothed the fuck out of her body. If you look closely and at other pics of Beth you'll see that its slightly out of proportion.

I don't want to hold her body up to scrutiny by any means, and it is good that a big girl is on the cover, but do beware when we celebrate it, that it still comes with a "but...its still airbrushed and they've still slimmed her"...

This is just something that highlights the point:

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1758889

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