Thursday, October 28, 2010

Disgusting! That's right - This article is Disgusting

I'm a couple of days late to this, but after reading about it first on Jennifer Armintrout's blog, and then several other places I just had to post about it.

What I'm talking about is this article from Marie Claire, entitled Should Fatties Get a Room (Even on TV)? Yes, you read that right.

I have to agree with Jennifer here, just on the title alone:
Okay, let's just grapple with that title there. Should fatties get a room? No. No, if I have to watch people of culturally acceptable body sizes pawing over each other in the supermarket check out line because the very sight of broccoli sends their libidos into overdrive, then I am allowed to kiss my husband in public. See, it's the "(Even on TV)?" part that gets me. It's like she's saying, "Of course, we all know it's unacceptable for fat people to touch each other in public. What decent human would even question that. No, no, what we are discussing is the probability of fat sex assaulting you in your very living room!"

That is, in fact, what the article is about. Or supposed to be about

The article is this (by Maura Kelly)
The other day, my editor asked me, "Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?"

Because I can be kind of clueless — I'm not much of a TV person — I had no idea what she was talking about, so she steered me to this CNN article, about the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. As CNN explains, "the show centers around a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group [and] has drawn complaints for its abundance of fat jokes [as well as] cries from some viewers who aren't comfortable watching intimacy between two plus-sized actors."

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. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.

So anyway, 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. 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 addict slumping in a chair.
Now, don't go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk. And I also know how tough it can be for truly heavy people to psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down. (For instance, the overweight maintenance guy at my gym has talked to me a little bit about how it seems worthless for him to even try working out, because he's been heavy for as long as he can remember.)

But ... I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It's something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.
(I'm happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it's cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you're getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there's plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me. It will take some time, but you'll also feel so good, physically and emotionally. A nutritionist or personal trainer will help — and if you can't afford one, visit your local YMCA for some advice.)

Then again, I guess these characters are in Overeaters Anonymous. So ... points for trying?

Then again, I tend to think most television shows are a kind of junk food for the mind and body. The boob tube gives us an excuse to turn off both our brains and our bodies and probably does a helluva lot to contribute to the obesity problem, over all. So ... I don't know.
What do you guys think? Fat people making out on TV — are you cool with it? Do you think I'm being an insensitive jerk?

Wow. First, I'm actually not surprised that someone could write this. Especially considering the history of the author (a recovering anorexic - and first let me say, I'm very glad she's in recovery) who obviously still has body issues. This, I think, has to stem from her own hatred of her body, and history.

However, what really pisses me off, and what really makes me have to post about this is the fact that not only did Marie Claire ASK for this article - they posted it. They published it. A huge, syndicated magazine. And if we allow something like this to go uncontested, we're agreeing to it by default.

How is anything in this article right? From an overweight person being compared to a heroin addict, or drunk, to an obviously unqualified person offering up nutritional and exercise advice? Or is it offering up SUPER MODELS as a good, healthy standard?

Oh wait - she's not sizest, because she has a few "plump" friends. Yes, that makes all your comments better, and I'm absolutely sure they appreciated them too. (/sarcasm if you couldn't read that)

But, Ms. Kelly did 'apologize' in an 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.

I know a lot of people truly struggle to lose weight — for medical and psychological reasons — and that many people have an incredibly difficult time getting to a healthy size. I feel for those people and I'm truly sorry I added to the unhappiness and pain they feel with my post.

I would like to reiterate that I think it's great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese. (Morbid obesity is defined as 100 percent more than their ideal weight.) And for whatever it's worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.

To that point (and on a more personal level), a few commenters and one of my friends mentioned that my extreme reaction might have grown out of my own body issues, my history as an anorexic, and my life-long obsession with being thin. As I mentioned in the ongoing dialogue we’ve been carrying on in the comments section, I think that's an accurate insight.

People have accused me of being a bully in my post. I never intended to be that — it's actually the very last thing I want to be, as a writer or a person. But I know that I came off that way, and I really cannot apologize enough to the people whom I upset.

OK then. That makes it all better.

I can't say enough how wrong this whole thing is.

Shame on you Ms. Kelly. But even more, Shame on You, Marie Claire.

UPDATE Editor in Chief Joanna Coles Responds to Controversial Blog Post
“Maura Kelly is a very provocative blogger,” Coles told us. “She was an anorexic herself and this is a subject she feels very strongly about.”

Coles said the mag has received over 28,000 email responses to the piece, and that Kelly was “excited and moved by their responses.”

Some other posts about this subject:
Babbling About Books, & More
Hussein's Drama Llama Post
Jennifer Armintrout's Blog

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