The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Dear diary, I think I’m in love…with my body!

Film Screening and Discussion, “I had an abortion,”

As I looked around the room at the students gathered for the film screening of “I Had an Abortion,” directed by Gillian Aldrich, and a discussion led by Professor Astrid Henry, Gender & Women’s Studies, I was pleasantly surprised to see that about a third of them were male, since abortion is widely considered a “women’s issue.”

I appreciated the film’s chronological organization of abortion stories and the diversity of the interviewees’ experiences and backgrounds. While every story did have a happy ending, the happy endings often came at a high cost—both literally and figuratively. My heart broke as I watched woman after woman confess her struggle to find a clinic, afford the cost of the procedure and deal with feelings of shame and guilt—many times all by herself.

The discussion following the film revolved around a number of topics, including the stigma that accompanies abortion and can cause the recipient to feel as if she’s “messed up” and somehow deserves to suffer the consequences for her “promiscuity.” It seems that society points fingers and whispers about women who get abortions—even those who claim to be pro-choice.

As we grappled to rationalize the stigma, my mind kept returning to the end of the film, when the women featured challenged others to speak out about their abortion experiences. It came to me that these women are revolutionaries—confiding in us their most private moments so that abortion no longer has to be a private matter. Though it may take some time before all women can feel comfortable sharing their abortion experiences, I think the night was a solid start.

Fat Acceptance Discussion

I arrived at Younker Lounge to partake in the Fat Activism workshop, admittedly with a certain amount of uncertainty and skepticism about the event. I had seen the posters around campus announcing “Fat does not equal unhealthy” and featuring pictures of “plus size” women, but was not well-informed about fat acceptance—the topic of conversation for the night.

The student-facilitated workshop was much like a classroom discussion, with a circle of couches organized around a small table. I was surprised to hear several of the facilitators call themselves fat, when they looked like a “normal” weight to me.

In my dictionary, fat has only ever served two purposes—self-deprecation and ridicule. Wouldn’t euphemisms like “curvy,” “voluptuous” or “big-boned” be more appropriate? Later the facilitators explained that the word fat is not in itself a bad word, but that society has attached negative connotations to it.

One of the participants brought up the point that fat women are considered more beautiful than skinny women in many other cultures. But if I ever used the word fat as a compliment—think, “Hey friendo, you look really fat today!”—the recipient would most likely be offended and stomp away.

Then there’s also the question of using words like “thin” or “skinny” as a compliment. How many times have you heard or said, “You look really great—have you lost weight?” Could praising thinness be just as problematic in the movement for fat acceptance as shaming fat?

In retrospect, I think we’re all too scared to talk about fat. We hide from it, we ridicule it, we invent myths about it, but rarely do we talk openly about it. I will admit that I was uncomfortable and disconcerted for parts of the workshop. But I think in order to restore the reputation of fat we have to make ourselves vulnerable and willing to engage in an honest dialogue.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *