Thursday, August 13, 2009

Forgive me, fatties, for I have Cintra-ed

And you thought Willow and her softer side of Sears had it bad. Yesterday, New York Times columnist Cintra Wilson wrote a scathing and, let’s just say it, incredibly mean review of the new J.C. Penney store in midtown Manhattan. If you haven’t read it yet you should, if only as an exercise in blood pressure elevation.

For those of you who have already seen the screed, or who want a recap, here is a taste of her tactless take on Penney’s. (Find the full thing here.)

On its move to Manhattan:
“Why would this dowdy Middle American entity waddle into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops without even bothering to update its ancient Helvetica Light logo…”

On its sizes:

“It took me a long time to find a size 2 among the racks. There are, however, abundant size 10’s, 12’s and 16’s. The dressing rooms are big, clean and well tended. I tried two fairly cute items…. Each was around $80; each fit nicely and looked good. I didn’t buy either because I can do better for $80, but if I were a size 18, I’d have rejoiced.”

On its mannequins:

“ has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on. It’s like a headless wax museum devoted entirely to the cast of ‘Roseanne.’”

Again, on its sizes:

“The petites section features a bounty of items for women nearly as wide as they are tall; the men’s Big & Tall section has shirts that could house two or three Shaquilles. And this is really, remarkably smart.”

Once more because she hasn’t belabored it enough, on its sizes:

“…we discovered that even a Penney’s medium is five times larger than any large T-shirt either of us had ever seen: The sleeves came down to the elbow, and there was enough room in front for eight months of unborn twins. And that will probably make some guy feel pretty svelte.”

Ooof. About this time every gal (or guy – equal opportunity anger here) who is not a size 2 is probably pretty pissed. You see, instead of just insulting the clothes – which is perfectly valid if you don’t like the clothes – she is insulting everyone who wears the clothes. She is mocking people who – in her eyes – have the audacity to squeeze their fat asses into Penney’s fashions. Don’t you know this is Manhattan?

To be fair, as nasty as her piece is, she did say that the store serves a niche that “has been almost wholly neglected on our snobby, self-obsessed little island.” But then, in the accompanying info at the end, she couldn’t resist one last zing: “No matter how many Grand Slam breakfasts you’ve knocked out of the park, Penney’s has a size for you…”

Ha ha ha, fat people eat a lot!

Like I said, ooof. The lady blogs have rightfully ripped into her. Her piece was remarkably insensitive, obnoxiously elitist and (what she would probably consider the biggest sin of all) simply not funny. My size 2 svelte self can buy a lot of cute things for $80 but your size 18 wide-load can only afford dumpy Penney’s. Hilarious! What is this, grade school where you point and laugh at the heavy kid?

And it just gets worse. As so often happens in our write-and-respond world, she went and apologized on her blog. Twice. Sort of. You see, first she posted a rather long, somewhat snarky fauxpology which essentially boiled down to: “Sorry I hurt your feelings, fatties! Really, I love the chubbies! Also, Beth Ditto!”

And then, she took that one down and posted instead that “frankly, people, I think this has all gotten a bit ridiculous. You know I didn't mean it that way, so please remove the knot from your panties…”

Oh, and her last tweet read: “HATING: That lady website, teeming with humorless, enfeebled twunts.”

Surprisingly (look, appropriate use of sarcasm), people did not take kindly to her not-so sorrys. So then she later posted a shorter, more sincere apology in which she said she regrets wounding the feelings of people “who already feel they take more than their share of abuse from our very shallow and ridiculous society. I was not sensitive enough to this, and the extent to which my article exacerbated these feelings is a very real failure on my end for which I sincerely apologize.”

I’m guessing the fact that right about now her hate mail inbox could fill the Mariana Trench played a part in that last mea-so-culpa.

The thing about writing is as soon as you express an opinion, someone will hate you for it. That’s just the way the world works. I understand that; I live it every day. So, of course, I don’t hate Cintra. I don’t know enough about her to have much of any opinion. I’ve read her writing in the past and to know that bitchy is her calling card. And I, of all people, can certainly appreciate that. But there is a difference between being bitchy with a point and being bitchy just to be a bitch.

In the end, I think what this highlights most is a lapse in judgment in what should be our nation’s most prestigious paper of record. All the news that’s fit to print should not be an asshole to anyone over a size 2. Newspapers, especially great newspapers, shouldn’t stoop to the Perez model where insults equal eyeballs, so let’s hurl as many as we can. Now I realize given my chosen name that this might seem like an odd thing to say, but everything doesn’t need to be snarky.

Though, as long as we’re being bitchy, how obnoxious is it that her website menu calls its photo gallery “PIXX?” Oooh, two XXs? HOW FUCKING CLEVER.


;)) babs said...


what a bitch!

perfectflaw75 said...

Cintra Wilson ought to get her skinny uppity @$$ kicked.

Good demonstration of how to get people offended 101. said...

Big talk from a woman who's name sounds like a supplement for old ladies.

OK so, let me get this straight, with the THOUSANDS of stores in Manhattan, she picks on the one that decides to service EVERYONE and not just the ones who shove their fingers down their throat.


I'd like to formally invite "Cintra" to kiss my size 14 ass.

tlsintx said...

ooooweeeee baby.. Cintra gets schooled. Snarker, you rock.

Big Shamu said...

I think it set out to accomplished exactly what it did accomplish. Publicity and internet traffic. I think it's interesting that it's happening now when retail sales are so flat that excluding normal sized Americans is financial suicide. Add to that folks like Stacey and Clinton on What Not to Wear and Carson Kressley rarely have the size 2 women on their respective shows.
If skinny is all she's got going on in her life no wonder she's so angry.

Anonymous said...

This is why we adore you Dorothy! Thank you for responding to this so eloquently, I would be tripping over my words with anger.
Doesn't she remember that all the Heathers didn't live to see 21?
I will not let this 'bitch just to be a bitch' ruin the rest of my day.

alice said...

You fucking rock.

I'm a bit with Big Shamu - there's a part of me that thinks this all *has* to be an attempt to drum up page views - but seeing someone outside of the Size Acceptance/ Fat Acceptance baliwick call her out on this is awesome. This has definitely improved my day.

Anonymous said...

oh. my. god.
what a see-you-next-tuesday.
thanks for posting this....i had no idea about it.

Tiffany said...

I second what babs said.


kimber p said...

trouble is, women her size seem to find it their entitlement to belittle us bigger girls. Like we don't deserve respect, not based on our size, but based on the fact that we're human. maybe her brain chemistry is effed up because of her lack of nutrition...the beauty of it all is, karma is a bitch and a half, Cintra will be on the receiving end of cruel observations about how she looks and there won't be a thing she can do about it..

grrlzzrool said...


Anonymous said...

No need to apologize for your wit, Ms Snarker. Wit is totally different than shallow and cruel and hateful and gleefully snobby.

Yes, some large ladies should kick her skinny size 2 a**!

dc said...

I've never read Cintra before, but this was humourless bitchery.

If u want first class original snark aimed at the deserving people, you won't be disappointed with The Guardian's Marina Hyde. She write on politics (UK), lifestyle,Showbiz & Sports.

lefty said...

I'm always amazed when I meet or hear of someone so self absorbed and shallow that they are incapable of empathy.

F**k her. Why do size 2 twats need to make fun of us fatties? I've never understood that.

Catriona said...

Thank you for this, Dorothy. I love when people see and call out fat hate for what it is: just another form of bigotry, another form of oppression.

Body size is genetic; diets don't work; you're hating on people for a characteristic they can't alter. And the whole of the media will tell you you're right.

Again, thank you.

- said...

There are really only two things wrong here. Firstly, she wrote an article that was better suited to a personal blog than her column in the New York Times; while she may personally feel that everyone shopping at JC Penney is a classless, obese slug it's not the sort of thing that ought to be written by her in an official capacity.
Secondly, she made two halfheartedly snarky apologies, clearly irritated at having to make them at all (and who likes apologizing for their opinions, really?) thereby making this one utterly unbelievable. I'm certainly not the only person who believes she's only sorry that she's been vilified over this. My reaction isn't anger so much as disappointment. I would expect someone with a career like hers to handle a situation like this with more grace than she has (which is to say, none at all).

Penny Cillin said...

Snark and bitch are not the same thing, thankfully. Snark takes wit, intelligence, and precision timing. Bitch takes laziness and anger. Snark wins. And big girls, you are beautiful!

Kiwiwit said...

Simple solution - stop buying the Times! If enough of you do that, she'll get her ass kicked onto the street by the editor!

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

I don't believe that Cinra ever had an angle on the article, so she resorted to lazy, common, mockery laced with retread pedestrian bitchiness. Is this the best that she can do? Probably, because brain cells need more than a sprig of parsley and half a sugarfree tic tac to function properly. Fitting into a size 2 comes at a steep price, to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't a US size two roughly partner a UK size six? Because if it does, hell, we would not be able to find enough people over the age of 13 that could buy that shit here. I'm so glad I don't find that physicality attractive, as it seems to makes for a hideous personality too.

Anonymous said...

She's talking about anyone not a size 2. Which is most people over age 13. It's the ridiculous (and unhealthy) notion of what 'right size' and beauty is in the U.S. Get over your high school mentality, Cintra, of trying to make yourself feel good by bringing down others.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that this is a 'Fat' issue. How can Size 14 be considered fat??? If you're a size 14 you shouldn't be considering yourself fat or bigger or heavy or large - you are 'normal' and the size 2s are skinny, NOT size 2 normal and you/me fat.

Anonymous said...

I am LMAO here... thanks for the reality check. As always, done with precision and humor.

jetgirl said...

I didn't bother clicking on the links, and I advise Ms. Snarker to un-link it. It's only giving more attention to the article as well as adding hits to the website. I'm pretty liberal, but NY Times is not the shit that it claims to be. Anyway, that size 2 Cintra bitch just needs to eat a sandwich. A knuckle sandwich!

PS. I work in Soho and have to unfortunately co-mingle with a lot of hipster elitists who are more close-minded and ignorant than your stereotypical southern hick.

Alaina said...

I hope we can agree on one thing here: polyester sucks. As a dressmaker, I can categorically say that polyester is the bane of clothes-wearing.

and yeah, that was a pretty hideous article.

Big Shamu said...

Wasn't Marilyn Monroe a size 14?

Anonymous said...

The USA needs to go on a diet NOW!

Abyzou said...

Jetgirl is so right about the provincial hickery of too many of the Northeast's scene-elite; they'll tell you the conventional wisdom of their demographic as happily & confidently as any Pentecostal regarding places they've never been & subjects they know nothing about. That said, obesity's as disastrous to longterm health as anorexia. Know your healthy weight, and don't let the puking hordes OR angry reaction to them push you off your own healthiest course. XOXO to La Snarker as always!!!

Anonymous said...

"Body size is genetic; diets don't work; you're hating on people for a characteristic they can't alter."

Body size is NOT all genetics. Yes some people need to work alil harder to control their weight but individuals regardless of genes are capable of maintaining a healthy weight.

Josephine said...

It's important to maintain a healthy weight, yes, but also to acknowledge that healthy weight is different for different people. My partner and I are exactly the same height, but her super-fit weight (when she's eating right and exercising a lot) is around 145. Mine is around 130. We just have completely different bodies.

As others pointed out, very few women can wear a size 2 while maintaining a healthy weight...too skinny isn't healthy, either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post!

Question: is that a picture of the JC Penny mannequins that are supposed to be obese, according to the NYT piece? Really? What size do you think they are? Obese? Seriously?