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.