Size-ism: Alive and well in America? (a.k.a. Why you should boycott Marie Claire)

I read things all the time that I find offensive — usually things that are political and/or sexist.  If I blogged about everything that I read that irritates me, well, I’d probably sound like a pretty hateful blogger.  But today I read something that was so appalling and hate-filled that I couldn’t not share it with you.  As much as it pains me to send more traffic to this website, you can read the full article, apology, and comments here.

You really should read the article because I can’t do its awfulness justice, but I’ll summarize a bit for you.  The article is basically a reaction to a new CBS sitcom, Mike & Molly, which is apparently about an overweight couple who started dating after meeting at Overeaters Anonymous.  The author of the Marie Claire article, entitled “Should “Fatties” Get a Room? (Even on TV?),” states the following:

“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 have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.”

“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!”

Those are just a few “highlights” of the things she had to say.  She also provided some general advise for improved health and weight loss.  It later became clear through the blog comments and her “apology” that she struggled with and was hospitalized for anorexia and bulimia.  I felt compelled to comment on the article because I found it extremely outrageous and hurtful.  The following is the comment I left:

As someone who has admittedly struggled with your own body through an eating disorder, I am genuinely shocked by your lack of empathy for people who struggle with their bodies, though in a different way than you did. While you should be commended for overcoming your own struggle, you should also understand, probably better than a lot of others, how difficult the journey of overcoming body image issues and eating disorders of all kinds really is. I find it sad and discouraging to hear that someone such as yourself would find obese people so disgusting and appalling to watch. Reading your post made me wonder what my thin friends think when I walk across a room or publicly show affection. I’m not proud of my obesity. I struggle with it every day. But I know in my heart that I am more than just an obese person and that I have a lot to offer the people around me — and I’m sure the actors on the show do too. You have minimized all overweight people and the daily battle they go through, especially those of us who are genuinely trying to become healthier people.

I am so floored by not only her article but also by some of the comments and subsequent articles.  Most commenters gave her the business, but not every one did.  Some people stated that she had the right to her own opinion, which I will sadly admit is true, and others agreed with what she had to say.  I think she is entitled to her opinion, I think that she has the right not to watch the show and the right not to be friends with so-called fatties.  What I find extremely troubling is that a women’s fashion magazine such as Marie Claire would allow one of its contributors to use its website as a platform for hate-mongering.

We all feel badly enough about ourselves as it is. There are external pressures every where to be thin, beautiful, funny, smart, successful, etc.  Really, pick your poison.  There is something out there that we all think we are not “enough” of.  I’m not saying that we should all lie about how we feel or skirt important issues for the sake of everyone’s feelings, but there has to be some level of sensitivity.  And the author of the Marie Claire article can say all day that she’s just being honest about how a lot of people feel and that she thinks that obesity in America needs to be addressed, but seriously, she was being mean-spirited and unkind and thoughtless.  We all have opinions that can be seen as offensive but I would like to think that we are smart enough and kind enough to keep them to ourselves or discuss them within our close circle of friends and family or at the very least take into consideration political correctness or provide some kind of counter argument/opinion to level the playing field.  Marie Claire posted a one-sided diatribe about how having fat people on TV makes people uncomfortable.  The fact that such an article was conceptualized, written, and posted makes me uncomfortable.

Furthermore, picking on a group of individuals and saying that they gross you out based on some generally unifying characteristic, well, everything about that rubs me the wrong way.  Being a size-ist is akin to being homophobic, racist, or sexist.  Size-ism may not be as serious as some of those examples, but it is born out of the same thought process — making assumptions and generalizations about people you don’t know based on your own preferences.  All fat people are gross and lazy and shouldn’t engage in PDA? Seriously? She really said that? She did (well, I loosely summarized that). It was totally crappy and mean.  And I genuinely hope that she realizes just how hurtful some of her statements were.  Being thin or at a healthy weight does not automatically and universally make her better than people who aren’t or make her more deserving of love or happiness or success.  It just makes her thinner and/or healthier than someone else.

Did you think the article was hate-filled?  Or was the author just expressing the opinion she was entitled to?  If you were overweight, do you think you would be offended by her statements?



Filed under Etc., Health

3 responses to “Size-ism: Alive and well in America? (a.k.a. Why you should boycott Marie Claire)

  1. GeoffersonSpin

    Not cool. Not only should she be ashamed but so should her editors for allowing that to be published. That article is just pure, shameless, hate based on something the author clearly has very little understanding of.

    Sure, she has a right to say whatever she wants, and that’s fine, but people should seriously think before they hit the publish button.

  2. Jenn

    Marie Claire should be ashamed, literally ashamed, for subjecting its readers to this kind of callousness- it serves no worthwhile objective whatsoever, other than promoting meanness and encouraging judgment of an INDIVIDUAL for all the wrong reasons. I would rather have beautiful character than a mean spirit and “perfect” body. I find it amusing that I’ve never seen this person and have no idea what she looks like, but I am 100% “grossed out” by her.

  3. quarterlifeconfused

    Update! Here’s a really good (in my opinion) follow up piece about the Marie Claire article:

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