Show me a woman without body issues, and I’ll show you a mannequin from your local department store – such a woman does not exist. But I always kind of had the sense we were in this together, whether we were fat, thin or simply thin-lipped. After reading a recent post on Marie Claire, I’m not so sure.
In it, writer Maura Kelly discusses whether she wants to watch the two overweight characters in the new CBS comedy “Mike & Molly” kissing. Here’s just part of what she says: “I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”
And more: “To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”
I have so many problems with the post (beyond the misspelling of “heroin,” unless she really means Supergirl) it’s hard to find where to start, so I will begin with the issue dearest to my heart: My children.
My kids are far too young to be categorized as fat or thin. Despite my own run-of-the-mill issues with my post-two-pregnancy body (saggy and baggy pretty much sum it up), this is something I do not want to pass on to my kids, nor do I ever want them to feel “grossed out” if they see a fat person. Or worry that someone is “grossed out” by looking at them.
Fat people aren’t slobby or stupid or lazy. That’s another ridiculous misperception in our culture.
Substitute in almost anything else for “overweight” and you can see how offensive this post really is. Would the author say the same thing about someone with a birthmark? With different colored skin? With culturally mandated tattoos? I don’t think so.
Kelly attributes obesity to a lack of self-control. I wonder if she knows that a frighteningly high percentage of adults who were sexually abused as children suffer from eating disorders such as binging, brought on by their fear of being touched again – would she attribute that obesity to a lack of self control?
Or how about people who take bipolar medication that cause huge weight gain, like some of my dear relatives – should we judge those people?
Or should we just judge the fat people who aren’t trying hard enough to lose weight – like perhaps a woman who has lost 100 pounds but still weighs 320?
Really, we should mind our own business.
I’m also outraged that Kelly would use the example of Melissa McCarthy, who plays Molly, to make her point about fat people. I admire McCarthy because she’s a tremendous actress (“Gilmore Girls,” “Samantha Who?”) who does not let her weight define her. She played characters on those shows who happened to be heavy – they also happened to be caring, smart and energetic, and that was such a breath of fresh air on television, where most of the good roles are reserved for the very thin.
Finally – I know I’m going on here – I’m disappointed in Marie Claire that they would permit – nay ask, according to the blogger – a woman who suffered from anorexia to discuss the propriety of fat people making out on television. Kelly cannot possibly have an objective opinion about this, as the roughly 1,000 people who have already commented on the article have noted. And I’m disappointed that Marie Claire’s plus-size blogger was not called in for a counter opinion.
I understand that sometimes you post something you later regret – I’ve been there, and it’s certainly one of the drawbacks of our instant-information age. But this was vitriolic.
Kelly posted an apology today, and I don’t doubt her sincerity. I think she knows she got carried away. But I wonder how many women and even teens had already read what she said and felt their self-esteem plummet five floors. I worry the damage was already done.
What do you think?