Musical Interlude: Amanda Palmer is not fat.

By | December 1, 2008

I’ll repeat the title, just to be clear: Amanda Palmer, of both solo career and as half the duo known as the Dresden Dolls, is not fat. I say this mostly from having seen pictures of her, since my only real-life experience was bumping into her in the audience at a Death in June show several years ago (and thinking, stupidly, where do I know that person from?, for about twenty minutes before figuring it out), but even given my very limited frame of reference, I can state with firm assurance that she’s not fat by any reasonable standard. She is, however, clearly made of human flesh, which is evidently not a real popular way to look when your record company is trying to sell your pop sensibilities to a broader (figuratively speaking, of course) audience.

A feminist UK blog called The F Word (yes, another one) has reported that Amanda Palmer is parting ways with Roadrunner, her record label, for refusing to promote her solo album and latest single. The reason? Apparently Palmer would not allow them to remove images of her “fat” [sic] belly from her latest video, embedded below, and thus the record company in question has branded her “uncommercial”, which is pretty clearly code for “uncooperative”.

Palmer’s fans and supporters have begun an online collection of belly images in protest, calling it – cleverly – a Rebellyon. There’s a fair amount of overlap with the existing Bellies Are Beautiful web gallery, so if you’re looking for more generalized belly love click over there as well.

This post is obviously a bit off-topic, since, as mentioned above, Amanda Palmer is most assuredly not fat. But this does illustrate the overarching cultural pressures and standards applied to popular images of women that put forth a certain idealized form, when that form does not actually exist. Removing Palmer’s belly from the video below would not make her skinnier in any authentic way; it would just remove the opportunity to show what one individual, natural, non-photoshopped woman’s body actually looks like. We don’t often get to see bodily differences – even subtle ones – in popular culture; every image, of every famous woman (and many men too), is pretty uniformly cleaned up and polished and perfected before it hits the magazine covers or the TV screen.

Thus, Amanda Palmer gets props from me if for no other reason than for not bowing to this shit. I may even have to reassess whether I qualify as a fan of hers or not.

The offending video, for “Leeds United”, is below. I can also personally recommend the album, which is quite good.

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