Infuriating, Meet Ineloquent

I usually associate Marie Claire with being the "thinker" of the fluffy lady magazines.  You know, they're the one that sends journalists to cover female genital mutilation, or sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, or Darfur.  (And then run the stories next to the diet pill ads, I mean.)

I do not expect this from Marie Claire.

Should "Fatties" Get a Room?  (Even on TV?)

Okay, did you read it?  If the answer is yes and your eyes didn't pop and proceed to dribble down your face, congratulations, it must not piss you off quite as much as it does me.

Let's start with last things first:  the author, Maura Kelly, added this update after she found herself in a veritable shit storm almost as soon as she hit the "publish" button:
UPDATE: I would really like to apologize for the insensitive things I've said in this post. Believe it or not, I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this, and I sorely regret that it upset people so much. A lot of what I said was unnecessary. It wasn't productive, either.
That's nice.  But here's the problem: the unnecessary and unproductive things you said?  You still said them.  But let's at least take Maura's apology, and continue to what's in the post.
 I'm not some size-ist jerk.
Hm.  Okay.  But you just said this:
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 - 
Wait for it, now it's time to justify it:
— just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.
Later in the update I quoted first, Maura points out that she feels equally uncomfortable when she sees an anorexic person as when she sees a morbidly obese person, so at least that one is diametrically opposed.... sort of....

By the by, there are plenty of "fatties" on TV.  Ever seen half the game and reality shows out there? Overweight and obese contestants are - at a minimum - semi-regularly featured on Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Wipeout (look, I don't know where I came up with that one either), Wife Swap, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Supernanny.... shall I go on?  Is it just that "fatties" aren't allowed to have love lives?

My issue with the Marie Claire post is really the entire framing of the thing.  They tell you when you're little that there's no such thing as a stupid question, but "should we watch fat people making out on TV?" IS A STUPID QUESTION.  I am not being very eloquent here - at ALL - but, sorry, I just can't.  The question she SHOULD be asking is, "Why the HELL do I care so much about someone else's body?"  It's not really about money, although that's the trendy excuse.  (The "fat people are costing us money" trope is tired, and if anyone actually wanted to enact change around other people's behavior for their health, Prohibition would never have been repealed, and cigarettes would have followed booze.)   And it sure ain't the health of the other person total freaking stranger motivates the obsession at a mass level, or else there wouldn't be reality shows like Intervention.   And if it were actually unappealing to watch extremely drunk people do something like make out, as Maura suggests, then movies like Knocked Up wouldn't make quite so much money.  Considering its entire premise is extremely drunk people having unprotected sex.  To me that's a lot more disturbing than two people, who happen to be fat, smooching.

So really, the framing is off.  The question shouldn't be, "Should we watch fat people making out on TV?"  The question ought to be, "What is it about me that it makes me so uncomfortable watching fat people making out on TV?"  If Maura had stepped back and considered where her discomfort came from, her post could have been worth reading, I'd expect.  But this version is, sadly, only worth flaming.


  1. I too feel ineloquent on this issue. (Though you managed a pretty good post on the matter!) This kind of thing just makes me tired.

  2. I wanted to ask you about this, do you think Maura Kelly is the anorexic equivalent of a dry drunk? There is so much "off" to the original column beyond the sizeism, such as bragging that she lost half her body weight, that losing weight is easy, that models are naturally slim (only if you consider starvation and drug use natural), it seems to me that she is still actively anorexic despite being (by her own admission) at a "normal" weight.

    Not that I'm excusing her behavior, it was so far past the line she's in outer space, but perhaps her editor should not have suggested such a topic to her?

    Anyway, you're the resident expert on such matters, so I turn to you.

  3. Hm. It wouldn't surprise me. The eating disorder mindset is hard to lose, no matter how far away from symptoms you are. That is at once comforting because you know you're not alone in feeling like you just can't kick your head into gear, and depressing because you hear people years after they've stopped purging say, "I still think about doing it every day." And anorexia can be somewhat of a different beast from bulimia in its psychosocial hold on the sufferer: bulimia is shameful and disgusting, whereas anorexia is disciplined (it's actually not) and an achievement. So letting go of anorexia (or being underweight with purgative behaviors and letting go of the underweight) is a "failure" it's hard to stomach. (har har har, get it?)

    Alabee (comment above) has a clear, brief post on this very idea right now.

    As for Maura Kelly, I am in camp Cleolinda: it's bad enough for the world and sad enough for Maura that she wrote what she did. But it's horrid and unthinkable that her editor would presumably have seen this before it was published, and thought, "Great! Good to go!" I can't help but assume that it had more to do with generating buzz about Marie Claire than anything else.

    Well, that certainly worked.


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