A Third Way to Prepare for Bathing Suit Season

Via Fatshionista, I discovered an awesome culture jamming project by a student named Tricia. A few weeks ago, she received an assignment in a women’s studies class to “do an Outrageous [Feminist] Act.” She was to define “outrageous” by her own standards, and since she’s Canadian, they were rather polite ones, but I absolutely love what she did.

Fed up with a Special K subway ad that offers women two choices to “prepare for bathing suit season” — keep your fat ass home, or diet — Tricia decided to take advantage of the negative space in the ads and offer her local commuters a third option.


The text of the original ad reads:

Two Ways to prepare for Bathing Suit Season

1. The most effective way to rid yourself of the pressure of the impending bathing suit season is simple: Make plans to stay in. From May 24th to Thanksgiving the best plan of attack is to stay at home. At home, safe, and out of the sun and surf. That way, nobody has to see you in that ridiculous two piece. Here’s how to do it. Re-decorate your home. Make your space more ‘liveable’ for your self-prescribed summer hibernation. Make sure your air conditioner is in good working order. If not, call a technician. Better yet, consider taking an online correspondence course in air-conditioner maintenance. Become a big sister to an agoraphobic. Make up a tropical disease that, although curable and non-transferable, makes going outside entirely out of the question. Write a screenplay about a young woman who is trying to avoid the summer by staying in and writing a screenplay about a young woman who is trying to avoid the summer. Write a list of excuses as to why you can’t go to the cottage, beach, or the summer BBQ. Once you’ve crafted a dozen great excuses, make sure to practice your delivery. Buy self tanning cream so you can tell your co-workers, “you got a little too much sun on your white water rafting trip”. Find a new job that entails working the overnight shift. Use the daytime for sleep and dancing with daytime TV hosts. Start a blog. Make the WWW your BFF. Learn to knit. If you already know how to knit, knit until you can’t knit anymore. People always need hats, mittens and sweaters (especially lopi sweaters). Tell people you are taking a sabbatical, then catch up on all those awesome shows that we can’t get here yet.

2. Relax and keep it simple. Try the Special K 4-week Challenge. Eat well, including fat free foods like Special K cereal, and exercise. Summer’s coming. Enjoy it.

Tricia’s alternative suggestions include such gems as:

3. Even Simpler

The most effective way to rid yourself of the impending pressure of bathing suit season is to love your body. The diet industry makes over $40 billion annually, and it’s fuelled largely by women’s learned self-loathing, plus the fact that diets rarely work. Give the finger to ads like this that tell us we aren’t good enough to participate in public life unless we’re skinny and pretty enough. (How skinny and pretty is skinny and pretty enough anyway?)

Go out and have fun in the sun and wear whatever you feel good in.

P.S. The Special K Four-week Challenge means you eat one meal a day and replace the other two with small bowls of cereal.

Check out the readable-size photos at Fatshionista — all three of Tricia’s alternative suggestions are terrific.

Tricia, you rock!

And can I just say, I went swimming in Lake Michigan yesterday, and boy, is that ever a lot more fun than sitting there sweltering because you don’t want anyone to see you in a bathing suit — or not going to the beach at all. I will take option 3 every time, thankyouverymuch. The cherry on top is, you don’t have to eat Special Fucking K.



Filed under 09_kate_harding

32 responses to “A Third Way to Prepare for Bathing Suit Season

  1. Pingback: fatshionista: Thanks Fatshionistas - culture jamming success!

  2. Meowser

    You know what cured me of bathing suit neurosis for good? Living in Phoenix for two years. I mean, when it’s 115 degrees, I’m going in the damn water, if you can’t deal with my damn thighs you can look the other way!

    And whoever wrote that Special K ad needs to be boiled in Crisco. Or stuffed with it.

  3. When I read #1, I thought THAT was the spoof ad.

  4. Angelos

    Just great!

  5. Tricia

    Thanks for posting this, Kate!

    I’d also like to point out that the texts were created with a great deal of help (in fact, some written word-for-word) from the other members of the Fatshionista community. Props to all of them.

  6. @Meowser:
    Mmmm…. Special K boiled in Crisco …. I want fried Special K now!

  7. Arkades


  8. I need about 1 pound of sugar on a bowl of Special K to make it edible, so I’ll take option #3.

  9. Nadai

    The cherry on top is, you don’t have to eat Special Fucking K.

    I like Special K – of course, I fix it with diluted evaporated milk and about 6 Tbsp of sugar per bowl, so I doubt it’s exactly low calorie my way. Too bad.

  10. car

    Kashi beats the pants off of Special K, by the way.

  11. Kate217

    Tricia, you deserve a standing O (whichever kind of “O” you prefer that to be).

    I intend to write to Kellogg Corporation and tell them that I wouldn’t dream of humiliating them by having one of their products seen being purchased or consumed by a fat person, so effective immediately, mine is a Kellogg’s-free household.

    Kellogg Corporate World Headquarters
    Main Switchboard: (269) 961-2000
    One Kellogg Square
    P.O. Box 3599
    Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

    Fookin’ asshats.

  12. Kate217

    Oh, I almost forgot!!!

    A gazillion years ago, Heather Locklear did a gym (I think Bally’s) ad in which she said “are you ready for summer? because the competition is!”

    I found that commercial so unbelievably offensive that I not only wrote the gym, I now detest Locklear with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns. Ironically, that ad aired the 20 minutes in which I was actually underweight, but I was so brainwashed that I thought I was fat, anyway.

  13. Meowser

    I intend to write to Kellogg Corporation and tell them that I wouldn’t dream of humiliating them by having one of their products seen being purchased or consumed by a fat person, so effective immediately, mine is a Kellogg’s-free household.

    Love it, Kate217! I’ll have to remember that phrase “wouldn’t dream of humiliating you” when I write my own protest letters. Let me know if they send you any coupons, that would be a total crack-up.

  14. I can’t believe any woman would give up REAL FOOD in favor of a couple bowls of cereal. You’re just gonna gain it all back when you return to normal eating!

    Fuck that noise; I’m havin’ me an avocado sammich, and my big, round ass thanks me.

  15. Tart, add crabmeat to that sandwich.

  16. Pingback: Why I Still Use the Term “Fat Acceptance” « Shapely Prose

  17. DivaJean

    Damn right the choice is clear for # 3!!

    I will never “wait until I am thinner” again. The time is now to get out there and enjoy ourselves.

    There is nothing that would keep me from going swimming or to the beach with my kids. They need me now to set an example- not to show them to hide myself away as unacceptable or not human due to my size.

    Well- maybe one thing could stop me- a harpoon. But it’d better be a big one…

  18. Even easier than writing, here’s SpecialK’s email address (kellogg@casupport.com). You can send them an email letting them know how very much this ad disgusts you. So as not to repeat myself, here’s what I sent them:

    I am outraged and appalled at your current advertising campaign that indicates if you are overweight you should “Find a new job that entails working the overnight shift” instead of subjecting the rest of the world to the indignities of flesh. Does it occur to anyone at Kellogg that everyone comes with a body that works for them and that there is nothing wrong with that – nor is there anything wrong with being seen in a bathing suit that covers that body. Being a few pounds “overweight” in this culture does seem to encourage women to “make up a tropical disease that, although curable and non-transferable, makes going outside entirely out of the question”, and that is not right. Shame on Kellogg’s for contributing to the advancement of women’s issues with their bodies. Shame on Kellogg’s for thinking that this shame is an acceptable way to drive sales.

    I assure you that not one dime of my household’s money will ever be spent on a Kellogg’s product again.

  19. Pingback: My Fat Ass Gets Angry (and other stuff) « Di Has Stories…

  20. Pingback: fat fu Notes from the Fatosphere «

  21. What a fantastic piece of work! Hearty cheers to all involved.

  22. Pingback: Love yourself, as you are « cannablog

  23. Deanna

    Am I the only one who refuses to spend $70 on a bathing suit when I can get shorts and a t-shirt for under $20?

    Better yet, I can go swimming at the local unofficially-official nude beach and not worry about clothes at all. 🙂

  24. goodwithcheese

    BRAVO! That’s fantastic! Though, honestly, #1? Sounds like a fan-freakin’-tastic way to spend July through September in Oklahoma. It’s miserable out there and I burn. But staying inside and knitting and playing on the internet and watching TV? ALL of those are preferable to eating Special K.

  25. Tart, add crabmeat to that sandwich.

    Yick, meat.

  26. Deanna, I got a sexy-ass, cleavage-tastic, Marilyn-esque one piece at American Apparel for $30.

  27. Arkades

    If I weren’t such a sweet and gentle soul, I’d suggest that the Way to Prepare For Swimsuit Season would be to invest in a paintball gun and some paintballs in the most garish color possible… Fun in the Sun!

    Fortunately, I’m way too well behaved to actually recommend such a thing.

  28. Brian

    I guess I’m one of the six people in the world that likes being inside. Refrigeration has made gods out of men.

  29. Wasn’t it Special K that gave us the “if you can pinch an inch” commercials? These people have a genius for inciting eating disorders.

  30. Pingback: Daily Round-Up at Shakesville

  31. I gave up on buying Kellogg’s cereal years ago, when they did a giveaway for (oh what a coincidence) Special K – you got so many tokens, and sent them in with a cheque for so many dollars, and they’d send you out a nice bra… but only if you were (Australian) chest size 10 – 14 and cup size A through C. I was so disgusted by the whole business (most Australian women are around dress size 14 as a median, which means there’s a lot of us who are size 14 and up… my own bra size is something along the lines of 22 E or F) I decided to stop buying their stuff, and I haven’t touched it since.

    I think this coincided with me taking notice of the fact that although I was earning a nice substantial wage at the time, there were very few places I could spend it. I think in the shopping mall nearest me, there were about 4 – 6 clothing shops (out of approximately 30 in total) which sold clothing I could fit into. Of those few, two were David Jones (upmarket department store) and Big W (discount department store). I had a few weeks of wondering whether they realised what they were ignoring (I can’t have been the only woman of size who was making a nice sizeable income in the ACT, much less the whole of Australia) before deciding that if they didn’t want my money, that left more for me to spend on computer games, books, CDs and DVDs.

    That said, I tend to spend most of summer inside anyway – mainly because I’m now living on the west coast of Australia, and I have rather pale skin. Staying indoors reduces my chances of sunburn, skin cancer, and more flippin’ freckles.

  32. La di Da

    Meg, I’m in Australia and I’ve noted that too. Especially in the Federal public service, there are actually a surprising number of women in the senior executive service in many departments these days, and a lot of them are even size 16+. They’re earning $120,000+ a year as a minimum and I see them wearing similar outfits all the time because the only places in Canberra to buy executive-appropriate-quality clothes are Maggie T, David Jones, and sometimes Taking Shape (AKA TS Woman), and even then the selection is limited. You can tell when one of them goes to Sydney or Melbourne because they come back with outfits from Towanda.

    If you’re fat, then no, not even your money is good enough for most fashion houses. Your money might have fat cooties!!!!!!!

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