So day before yesterday, over at that esteemed bastion of critical thinking, Marie Claire magazine, this happened:
The other day, my editor asked me, “Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?” … Yes, 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.
It wasn’t just the one excerpt that was jaw-dropping. Writer Maura Kelly went blithely on (and on) about the ickiness of just having to exist in the same world with fat people,
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.
not to mention seeing them on her teevee, validating their right to exist and all.
My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country’s obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it’s at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny.
She even dispensed some nutrition advice because everyone knows fat people really do have “a ton of control” over their issues, if they would just put their mind to it.
But hey, don’t get the wrong impression of her!
I have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.
Apparently gobsmacked at the reaction, Kelly apologized — hey she really thinks it’s totally cool to have all shapes and sizes of people in magazines and TV as long as they’re not, you know, obese — and also copped to having some underlying body image issues and a history of anorexia. Which, just maybe, might have influenced what she wrote. To her credit, the apology seems heartfelt and honest, if stillway clueless, and in no way does she deserve the more extreme responses, like having her address and phone number made public. That shit is not cool, nor is it remotely “understandable.”
So now ABC News says “The internet” is clamoring for aboycott ofMarie Claire over the post. Well, hey, it’s ABC News ya’ll, so it must be true. Sorry, The Internet, even if I readMarie Claire, or for that matter, even if I watched the damn TV show that sparked the whole mess, I seriously doubt the efficacy of a boycott. It’s a fashion magazine, fer chrissakes, just a symptom, a reflection. Shall we boycott the whole fashion industry, the larger media, the totality of prescriptive marketing, our culture’s obsession with hypersexualized youth and beauty and perfection and physical appearance? Let’s boycott the whole fucking country while we’re at it, The Internet, why not?
No, as teachable moments go, this was good one, so thanks clueless Ms. Kelly, and to your “provocative” editors, too, for providing a textbook illustration of fat-phobic hatred. Or, as some of us call it, everyday reality.
I’m a fat person, so I have to deal with this crap. Every. Fucking. Day. And, depending on the day, or the moment, I’m stronger for having faced it. I’ve learned a lot dealing with people hating me and being disgusted by me and diminishing me and oversimplifying me. Except when I’m crushed by it. Except when it’s another in a long line of obstacles I have to deal with. Except when it makes an already complicated situation even more complicated.
Because here’s the thing: whatever the many, many very legitimate concerns about overweight (and there are many, along with a crap ton of utter prejudicial bullshit nonsense), and wherever I am or am not along my road with being this way (and I have been all up and down that road despite you seeing me as a static snapshot) and whatever you or someone else truly feels they should offer me by way of advice or motivation or just plain unleashing (and I have heard more than you can possibly imagine, and in my experience, it more often than not, has more to do with the other person’s stuff than it does with concern for, or real insight about, mine), I am in the meantime, busy with simply being a human, so deal with it.