Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fat and Happy

Opinions are like assholes, or so the saying goes. So it only follows that many assholes have opinions. But you are still taken aback, way aback, when an asshole is such an asshole about her opinions. Like, for instance, the Marie Claire blogger who posted her thoughts on the new CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly.”

Let me break down the essence of her post for you:


And I’m not even really paraphrasing there. This is what was actually written.
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! ….

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. ….

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.

(p.s. That last sentence is 84 – EIGHTY FOUR – words long. How about learning how to slim down your writing instead, lady?)


The post has made the rounds, been roundly criticized and, by my rough estimate, garnered some 6 gazillion very unhappy replies in the comments section. The writer has apologized, said the post was an insensitive, thoughtless reaction to her own struggles with anorexia. Blah blah blah. That may well be true. While we should be rightfully furious with its writer (a Maura Kelly – who has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Glamour, among others. Also, she loves peanut butter!), we should also see this as a symptom of a larger, more insidious disease we have as a society. This Maura person articulated it almost perfectly.

In our society, we think to be loved you have to look a certain way. If you don’t look that certain way you are unworthy, unhealthy, unhappy, undeserving. If you don’t look a certain way you shouldn’t kiss, find love, walk across a room. If you don’t look a certain way you should be ashamed, disgusted and hate ever fiber of your big, ugly, repulsive body.

What a colossal load of unrelenting horse shit.

Without getting into the flat-out fallacies of Maura Kelly’s argument (all weight can be managed through diet and exercise, etc.), let’s talk about her piece’s casual yet calculated cruelty. It’s a cruelty that permeates our society. It’s fed by the fashion and beauty industries. It’s fed by Photoshopping the already beautiful into impossible beauty. It’s fed by almost every image we see projected and plastered everywhere. This is how you should look, if you don’t look like this how could you possibly be happy? An entire body-shaming industrial complex profits from our continued misery.

It shouldn’t be a radical statement to say that we are all humans and that we all deserve happiness no matter our size, race, sexual orientation, disabilities, whathaveyou. Yet here we are, in the year 2010, and some people are still saying how gross it is that two fatties have the audacity to actually kiss. How dare they be happy, don’t they know?

Treating all people with basic human decency and respect, now that’s fucking beautiful.


Norma Desmond said...

I'm so angry just reading this excerpt that I think I'll just avoid her article altogether. Because, yes, you're right, it doesn't matter what oppressed group you belong to, being treated like shit is being treated like shit and shouldn't be stood for. Also, she should be soundly beaten (again, you're right on this one); not everyone can exercise away the pounds. I work out four times a week (strenuously) and eat super healthy. I still carry extra weight. Sometimes, genetics just suck like that.

... Clearly, this is a hot button topic for me.

Anonymous said...

I find our society insidiously fascist : look that way , love that way , think that way ... Of course we're not in George Orwell's 1984 but Big Brother is often inside, brought to life by intense mediatic manipulation. And there is also what one might call fathomless stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.. lady, if it offends you don't watch. No I'm not a fan of seeing unhealthy people make out, but come on! Everyone has the right to be happy and love is a wonderful thing. Advert your eyes and move along. I find the poster disgusting on the inside for attacking someones outside.

Rosie said...

hmmm...I find it interesting to see on your page today's blog of Fat and Happy and right underneath Tank Top Tuesday with all the "stereotypical" skinny beauties.Don't get me wrong, I am a total Dorothy fan, but how about a tank top tuesday of some really awesome people who may not be so well-known for their skinny bodies but well-known for their work or art or whatever it is? Like you said, now that is hot.

Anonymous said...

With all the recent public discourse on bullying it strikes me that by writing this article, the columnist is publicly bullying overwieght folks with Marie clare magazine's endorsement. It frightens me to think that we give lip service to teaching our kids about the effects of bullying yet intelligent, educated adults employ the same bullying tactics under the guise of "opinion" within an international forum.

sars said...

Rosie nailed it.

Amanda said...

Sociologists state that people with over-eating disorders are the most hated/disliked people in society. They call it being fat-phobic. People who have these same reactions of disgust and hate just based on a simple image of a person. Now that's disgusting.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that the writer is being insensitive and just downright degrading. But on the other hand, I get where she's coming from, minus the whole spew of nonsense and prejudices, that obesity is in the end an illness. And I do understand the message that the tv show is trying to send across, that beauty and happiness come in many sizes, but why not a healthy one? My dad passed away from a heart attack due to obesity, so no, I'm not just another skinny girl talking about the perfect body. Because I know that this is far more than just having the perfect body or ideal image or whatever, it's about the quality of life, the years that he could've lived, MORE HAPPILY, if he would have just eaten healthier. But maybe he's not to blame, maybe genetics are, or maybe it was his time and even if he had eaten healthy he could've had the heart attack anyways. But I have to disagree, because being fat and happy, in reality, isn't that simple, and isn't really helpful.

Dee said...

Wow, I read the entire original piece, the apology, and some of the comments, to make sure I have the whole picture.

Having seen several other controversial stories about Marie Claire's lack of editorial judgment recently, I think they ran this blog just for PR. They knew it would generate a firestorm. Any publicity is good publicity, right?! They ought to quit publishing altogether. They are the National Enquirer or so-called women's magazines.

I have struggled with my weight all my adult life and right now I am very fat, but trying to get slim. Ironically, my struggle is SIMILAR to Maura's, in that we're both obsessed with food, but I don't write blogs criticizing anorexics.

I believe you reap what you sow. Maura is reaping bitterness and anger, because that's what resonates throughout her original post.

She looks like she needs to gain about 20 lbs. and take a year off and go meditate somewhere. Maybe then we'd see a real apology...

Unknown said...

I just want to tell you how much I love you and how much I wish more people though like you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this post. It is hard enough being overweight, having an entire family who is overweight and feeling judged any time you feel hungry and need to eat in public. When someone writes a blog like this Maura wrote, it just hits home that there really are people who are judging you for the way you look. What about those people who do exercise regularly, eat right, try every weight loss plan known to man but still can't get to a "normal" weight? Are they disgusting too? What are they doing wrong? It's hard to brush words like this off, but by writing your response, Dorothy, you make it easier. Thank you.

beebee said...

Right on Rosie and Snarker!

Saying it's hard to watch two fat people kiss is analogous to saying it's hard to watch two people of the same sex kiss. Right? It's bigotry people.

Morcegos no Sótão said...

It's one thing to be chubby or even fat, but obese? That really is unhealthy, all aesthetics aside. And while it is true that there are quite a few medical and hormonal reasons for people to become obese, the truth is that, statistically, most fat people let themselves reach an obese state out of lazyness. Food is a refuge, working out is too much trouble, so on, so on.

If people are fine being fat, I'm all for them! Love away! But when they're just full of complexes and with a self-esteem so low it's hard to find it under the carpet, they do have the wrong weight and are only finding excuses not to lose it. I didn't say this, folks at The Biggest Loser did. :P

Anyway, the lady was a little harsh, yes, indeed. But society is not very fond of fat people in general, especially image-wise, so I'm pretty sure her opinion doesn't stand alone in the crowd...


Unknown said...

Wow, that shameful....I can't even believe that got the green light to publish(the title alone is crossing the line> I'm so ill right now about this I can't find the words to continue...

N said...

Thank you for such an eloquent response; the whole mess has made me so angry that I have nothing kind to say to them in the least, so I have said nothing.

Anonymous said...

I think it was harsh, but honestly, it is just one person's opinion (and she is most likely not alone).

I am obese (though not to that degree), and even I don't like having to watch really fat people walk around - especially if they are wearing shorts, or tight-fitting clothes.

That said, I don't understand homo-sexuality either, but I would die fighting for the LGBT community's rights to live life how they want.

If people don't like watching it, the show will die on it's own.

lizC said...

I enjoy visiting your site, but I have to agree with the point Rosie is making with regard to the pictures you yourself post. Anonymous no. 3 also makes some very good points regarding how unhealthy it is to be obese. The male lead character on this show looks morbidly obese and I do worry for his longevity. I have tried to watch the show a couple of times (I loved Melissa McCarthy as Sookie on The Gilmore Girls), but, rather than the relationship between the two main characters making me cringe, it is the unhealthy lifestyle depicted in the show that has put me off watching any more.

Anonymous said...

I love you, Dorothy!

Anonymous said...

This totally ties into Portia's book and all the self-hate about body image themes.

Anonymous said...

Long time watcher, never one to comment, but here we go:

Those saying Ms. Snarker is hypocritical because of her Tank Top Tuesday posts couldn't have been reading her blog for too long. Besides the TT posts, there have been many, many times where she's shined a light - a very *sexy* light - on those who may not be perceived as having that stereotypical beauty. (Queen Latifa, Jane Lynch, etc). She's posted pictures and written entries focusing on women that would not fit modern day's standards of beauty many, many times before, and I think it's very clear by past entries - by the purpose of this blog as a whole - that Ms. Dorothy is a firm believer of love between anybody. To call her hypocritical because this post happens to fall after Tank Top Tuesday is kind of sad, and I don't mean that in a snarky way, but in a genuine, "Do you honestly think, from all that you've read and seen here, that this woman only thinks beautiful people are stick-skinny and blonde? (If memory serves, I can even recall her writing an entry about Keira Knightly needing to eat more, which actually saddened me since I love her, but you get my point). I would advise those who have only just started reading Ms. Snarker's blog to back track a little before making those kind of comments. Even if some of them were written in a mature, respectable matter, they wouldn't have been written at all had the people who wrote them looked back at what she's said and posted in the past. IE, women who she admires for their beliefs, their talents, and their beauty - even if the last of those three don't always match up to society's standards.

Anonymous said...

How's the view from your high horse, Dorothy? Please repost the pics of all those fat chicks you adore and appreciate here on your site. Waiting while the crickets chirp. It's just silly and hypocritical of you to bash the dis on fat couples when you, by your deeds, like every picture you post here, every day, day after day, demonstrates you are livin' the bigotry outta your heart while condemning it with your (hollow) words.

Anonymous said...

On one hand that television show seeks to "humanize" the main characters by having them display the same qualities we all have in universal situations.
nn the other hand it glorifies a dangerous physical trait that can become life threatening.
Most of us struggle with some type of body issue, then again it's easy to dismiss an out of control weight problem as "just a few extra pounds."

The Marie Claire article is offensive and as a woman who had 2 blind dates with women I soon discovered suffered from Anorexia, well that disgusted me to see their spinal columns but I didn't write an article in a national publication about it.

alice said...

Hear hear. And for all of the folks in the comments who say that their revulsion stems not from fat, but from people being 'unhealthy', please stop kidding us all. Aside from the fact that a person's size isn't a map of their health (see: thin folks whose cholesterol gets ignored by doctors because they 'look' healthy), I will only accept this excuse from people who also recoil equally from all smokers, all folks who drive without a seatbelt, and those who eat lots & lots of red meat.

No one's saying that everyone has to find bigger bodies attractive, but if you're *repulsed*, then there's something else going on, and it's not 'concern' for our health. Whatever your issues are, however, it should be easy to agree with Dorothy's final point - we all deserve respect.

And while I'm not going to be sad if this site starts to more regularly feature a wider variety of bodies, I have to say that the vitriol that some folks are bringing to that suggestion is a shame, given that for a 'mainstream' site, there's a pretty wide variety of body types pictured.

Heather Anne Hogan said...

Wow. I am kind of appalled at some of the mean-spirited comments on this post! I don't think you haters have any idea what kind of time and talent and emotional energy it takes to run a blog like this every day. Snarker does this for FREE (again: every single day, even when she's on vacation) in addition to writing for AfterEllen and writing at her real-life job.

And she does it was an uncommon degree of empathy and integrity. I defy you to find even a handful of other blogs that provide what she provides (again: FOR FREE) in the caustic, uninformed, gossip mongering blog world out there.

Yes, Snarker posts photos of thin women in tank tops. And even THOSE take hours and hours and hours to find. There simply are NOT a lot of photos of tank-top clad women who are NOT actresses, and MOST actresses fall under that conventional Hollywood standard of beauty. (The only exception I have ever seen was when Ilene Chaiken included a photo of herself in The L Word season six press packet.) When we cover showrunners, writers and producers, we usually have to BEG them for photos of themselves.

Snarker has also written some warm, articulate, insightful posts about how female beauty manifests itself in all shapes and sizes and colors. (See: Gabourey Sidibe, Queen Latifah, all 100 posts she's written about the horrors of magazine Photoshopping.) And in addition to that, she tackles tough stuff, too, like politics and culture.

If you think you can do better -- or be more fair and inclusive -- try it. Seriously. Try it. Blogger is free. Try to replicate this kind of content with the same skill and intellect and passion.

It's not easy. Snarker just makes it look that way.

Melanie said...

Dear Maura Kelly:

Read your post quoted above and your bio.

(Full disclosure: I am a Person with One or Two Rolls of Various Size and Placement. But don't worry. I am fully clothed, even at this late/early hour, and am not currently jiggling or anything because I am sitting down and not crossing any rooms.)

I'm not going to pile on you for saying hurtful things about my Rolls. As Snarker rightfully points out, everyone has an opinion. You have the right to yours. And, to be fair, we are talking here about a blog post written for Marie Claire's online dating section.

But I see from the forthcoming credits in your bio that you also write in longer formats for more general interest publications, so since you were kind enough to offer helpful nutrition and fitness suggestions to me and my Rolls, I'd like to offer you some suggestions as a writer.

First of all, people are just like packaged food in the grocery store. What's on the outside doesn't always tell the whole story. Sometimes you actually have to pick the package up, turn it over, and read the official government-mandated nutrition label on the back to begin to understand what you are really holding in your hand. Same is true with people! (Helpful Hint: Pertinent information about the content of a person's character is NOT helpfully displayed in table form on their backside, just so you know. Lucky for you! Otherwise you might have to look at their backside!) You will probably have to do a little digging to get to know the person inside the rolls or lack thereof, but that work is usually worth it, especially for a writer.

Just as it's sensible advice to eat more fresh foods and to avoid overly processed foods, you might try avoiding generalizations and canned ideas. Just as those fresh foods will put more fiber content in your diet, deeper consideration will contribute more thoughtful content to your pieces.

Finally, try to meet some different kinds of people at least five times a week. (Another helpful hint: People worthy of your attention as a writer come in all shapes and sizes and colors! Cool, right?) And always remember to do everything you can to stand up and look around more--even while at your computer.

Melanie Aswell

Anonymous said...

Posters who are bashing Ms. Snarker for the photos she posts of women she, and others, find attractive are not only out of line, but are missing a key distinction between those posts and what this other woman wrote. As others have pointed out, Ms. Snarker showers women of all ages, races, body types, occupations, etc. Ms. Snarker often tags people for their sexiness for reasons other than the physical features: intelligence, activism, swagger, laying the smack down on Reichwing Talibangelists, or acts of courage. And, there is a huge difference between Ms. Snarker appreciating the beauty of women with thinner or more athletic builds and expressing outright disgust about the very notion of two heavy people making out and seeing their "rolls." Calling a woman hot and appreciating her body is not the same as heaping scorn on an entire class of people.

The article in Marie Claire was written in a rather cruel manner, but I would not be surprised if it were written that way in order to get attention or page hits. If the true intent of the article was to express concern that, what with 1/3 of our country being obese, normalizing obesity in the media is problematic. Obesity is responsible for the three leading chronic illnesses which overburden our health care system: high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. I would have to call shenanigans if the author or the magazine tried to claim that they were only trying to help solve this problem.

Anonymous said...

this post said everything i felt about society's preoccupation with the superficial but had been unable to articulate.

at least i felt a sort of kinship until i scrolled down further and saw tank top tuesday. i read this blog regularly, so it came as no surprise, really. but, to be honest, i don't ever recall seeing a large woman plastered on the home page of this blog. it's so easy to recognize how pervasive these holier-than-thou attitudes are in everyone else, but in our righteous indignation we forget that we're probably just as guilty of perpetuating the same unhealthy attitudes. sad, but this all just strikes me as a little hypocritical.

that said, your blog raises some VERY important questions and it never hurts to raise them every now and again.

Angela said...

preach it. keep on preach it. then preach it some more. There is far too much self hatred in this world because all we see are woman who are the size of my upper thigh. Why not promote health instead of skinniness? I am considered "overweight" and almost "obese" according to the bmi, yet I could walk for miles with no problem and my job is lifting boxes full of books. We should strive to be healthy, not anorexic looking. (which btw, is NOT HOT!)