Alyssa Milano Calls Jay Mohr Out on Fat-Shaming

alyssa-milanoLong story short:

Comedian Jay Mohr made critical comments on a radio show about what Alyssa Milano looked like when he saw her at an event in early December. Milano apparently just recently found out about it and did what a woman with 2,460,000 Twitter followers just might tend to do.

She tweeted about it.

Let’s review what Mohr said about her on the radio where other people could hear him:

“She was one of the presenters,” he said. “She’s very tiny, in height … It seems like she had a baby and said, ‘I don’t really give a s–t’… I read it on her gut. … Somebody sat in the director’s chair and was not wearing Spanx and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ.’”

Nice, right? I mean, really.

Milano wasn’t having it, and called his words what they were.

This has been all over the news today, and I’ve been letting it roll around in my head to decide what I think about it. It’s easy to determine from a quick scan of the facts that what Jay Mohr said was not nice, or good, or constructive in any way. I was taught that it’s mean and unnecessary to observe another human being’s appearance, and then to go out of your way to make profane, mean comments about it in a public forum. I’m not even sure I even needed to be taught that. I knew it didn’t feel good when people said mean things about the way I looked, so, bingo! Don’t do it to other people. Easy.

Now, I don’t know if Jay Mohr and Alyssa Milano know each other, or if he has some special issue with her that drove him to pick this observation out of the hat and spew it out on the airwaves when he had the chance. I can’t think of any other reason to go after her like this, because even though what Alyssa Milano actually looks like is beside the point — it is not okay to say mean things about anyone, regardless of size or circumstance — I have seen photos of her at this very event. I’d worry about the eyes of any casual observer who said anything critical about her body or who gathered from her appearance that she had, in any way, given up … whatever that means.

Girl was red-dress-high-heels-smokin’, is what I’m trying to say, which is, again, beside the point. But it’s still true.

And why Jay Mohr said what he said doesn’t really matter, anyway. What matters is the impact, and the fact that he said it at all. Reading his words makes me feel tired, and more than a little sad that these stories persist. It’s disheartening that no matter what women accomplish, no matter how well-regarded they are for their talent, their prestige, or for their positive influence on the world, that these comments referencing weight and personal appearance still seem to get so much more play than they should.

It’s also discouraging that a grown man with a wife and toddler child would take to the airwaves to share these thoughts about another woman, for essentially no reason.

And that’s really the point, I guess. I just don’t understand why. Why is Jay Mohr using his words like this? What is the motivation, besides a potential cheap laugh or three on a radio program? Why are these comments necessary, from the father of a toddler and the husband of a woman who gave birth to a child around the same time Milano did?

“It seems like she had a baby and said, ‘I don’t really give a s–t’…I read it on her gut.”

Ugh. Why are people so … mean?

I guess my questions haven’t really changed that much since kindergarten, and the unsatisfying answer is still, “I don’t really know.” But as long as people, particularly women, are faced with this kind of public criticism and held up to often unreasonable standards in a society where news travels faster and in more media than it ever has, I suppose it’s going to keep being an issue. There will still be public judgment of people for what they look like, and it will be up to people who say it, who are the subjects of it, and who observe it to take it in and decide how to respond.

I would hope that if I were in her well-followed shoes, I would use a platform like Alyssa Milano’s in the way that she did, which is to acknowledge the slight directly, succinctly, and without apology, and to move on. I also like her reminder to Mohr that he’s got a wife and kids, too. Does her reaction or the myriad reactions of “Isn’t that awful???” erase what was said or prevent others from saying similar things in the future? No. But it does serve as a reminder that there is a human being on the other side of critical words and cheap shots, and it would be great if even one person read the commentary and had a change of heart.

I have a problem believing that human beings can’t evolve and behave better. It’s quite possible that talking about these things assists in that endeavor. Good on you, Alyssa. (PS: You look even more amazing in red.)

Update, 1/3/1014, 5 p.m.:

Say what you will about Jay Mohr, but the comedian knows how to apologize: clearly, with full accountability for his actions, and in this wired world, on multiple platforms. He tweeted this yesterday:

Today, he shared his remorse on Facebook, in a lengthy update in which he stated that his original comments were meant to be funny, and “incongruous,” given how attractive Milano actually is.

I know full well how much words can hurt people, having seen my wife get destroyed by the tabloids, and I am embarrassed that I didn’t think before I spoke. Alyssa is an extraordinarily beautiful person—both inside and out—and I am truly ashamed of the words that I used. I didn’t reply to her comments via Twitter because I didn’t want to draw more attention to something as serious as this. Alyssa is a mother, a wife, an actress, and a class act that should always be celebrated. I am SO sorry. Sometimes comedians go to far. I went to far. I cannot change what I said, but I can assure you that my heart is broken that I hurt her. With the utmost sincerity, Jay Mohr

He also posted it on his blog where, interestingly enough, the last post is a guest entry from his wife, Nikki Cox, entitled, “When Did We All Get So Mean?”

Alyssa accepted, with a smile:

It is certainly to his credit that Mohr apologized, and more so that he didn’t explain away his actions based on his personal belief that she’s an attractive person and it was supposed to be a joke. That’s how you do an apology, folks. Well done, Jay Mohr.  Well done, Alyssa Milano. It’s nice to see something play out civilly in the public sphere. It gives me (cautious) hope for 2014.

Image credit: Pacific Coast News

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