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FIRST: This Washington Post blogger suggests “fat” as become an offensive word. Offended? Don’t read. If you’re foolish enough to give the words power, that’s your choice. Go to a tap-dancing show if you think I should dance around this topic. I’m hitting this, yo.
A blogger for Marie Claire online, Maura Kelly, has had a shitstorm of no compare land upon her since she decided to take on Mike & Molly, the chubby show about a couple who hook up at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
Long story short, she said things like:
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.
People are calling for her job.
Really? Because she’s hurting people’s feelings, or…?
You’ve got to be kidding me if you think she’s alone in that thinking.
I’ve heard people say it to my face before. I’ve heard people in my company say a person has “no right” to wear a certain kind of clothing because they’re “too fat.”
Me, I’ve been about 300 pounds and a cozy size 24.
Don’t you DARE tell me that Maura Kelly is ALONE in how she thinks. Do NOT tell me people aren’t fat-phobic or disgusted by obesity.
And don’t you DARE tell me everyone’s all shocked that someone actually thinks this.
Where the hell do you people live? I’m on Planet Earth, where really fat people are still perceived as walking stereotypes by a moronic media who thinks they only roll one way.
Half the time there’s a “fatty” in the movie, they’re a messy person, they keep missing their mouth with food and wearing it. I mean, hey, scriptwriters, how do these fat people become fat if they only wear their food and not eat it? Mad science, that!
When Hollywood’s concerned, the token “fatty” is almost always a cute but bumbling idiot.
Now and then someone like Oliver Platt comes along, who’s as graceful as he is oversized, but, for the most part, you’d think fat always equaled clumsy slob with no life ambitions. Thanks, Hollywood!
What the hell’s with this sanctimony now?
It’s just ridiculous there’s SUCH a furor over Kelly’s words and not enough anger about the program itself.
And where’s the anger about magazines like FHM, who hatefully call this undercover-camera footage of a fat man eating cheese “comedy gold”? Raise your hand if you don’t think this guy’s seen this footage and ever wants to exit his home again.
Face it: People are mean. They’re cruel.
Okay, was Maura Kelly an asshat in how she worded her rant? Yes.
Was she saying what a LOT of people probably agree with? YES.
Was she likely baiting people for a reaction? Yeah.
Does that make it right? Not really.
Should she lose her job? HELL, NO.
So where’s that leave us?
Finally friggin’ talking about it.
Here’s how I see this issue, on many levels:
One, Maura Kelly’s pretty wrong but there’s some truth to what she’s saying. Obesity can’t be allowed to become normalized. We can’t sit back as a society and say that what we’re doing to our health is okay. We can’t keep eating ourselves to death because we’re too lazy to chop up some vegetables.
Two, the problem with being horrified by “fat” people making out is, they’re not the only people with bad eating habits, they’re not the only unhealthy people. Are Kelly-type people grossed out by the “fatty” lack of health or just the fat? How hypocritical is that? IN FACT, there are “fat” people who eat healthy meals and can probably haul ass further than you. Don’t judge the chubby books by their ample covers.
Three, by keeping the perception of health on how we LOOK, a lot more “skinny fat” people will keep feeling validated in their habits because they have smaller than a 34 waist — much to the chagrin of the 5’4, 125-pound type-2 diabetic I know who drank himself into the disease by way of two full-sugar Big Gulps a day over a decade, and much to my chagrin as as a very-healthy-but-chubby taxpayer.
Four, is the show really doing “fat” any favours by making it a sitcom about fat people who meet in a fat-people place and who live their life around a lot of fat-people issues? I’m not so sure we should be celebrating the program while demonizing the critic, if the show’s reinforcing stereotypes. Know what “sitcom” is short for? “Situation comedy”. This situation, for Mike and Molly? Fat man meets fat woman at a fat meeting and they go home and are fat and awkward together. Oh, win, Hollywood — just made of win. The plot development seems a little, well, thin to me.
Five, when Maura Kelly likens seeing fatness to that of seeing a heroin junkie or an alcoholic, is she that far off the mark? Most weight situations are insanely difficult to be reversed, like a lot of addictions are, but they can indeed be reversed. Not all cases of obesity are caused by poor lifestyle choices, but many are. For me, she would NOT have been off the mark. Food is, and always has been, my primary choice of drug — be it my undying love for butter or passion for anything cooked well — and it would have led me to an early grave if I’d continued as I had from 1999-2003, as surely as an overdose or alcohol poisoning could have.
Six, by being a complete asshat in how she positioned some of her argument, Maura Kelly has shown us just how hateful most people’s speech is when it slips out in seemingly-harmless little chunks here and there — whether it’s a snide little “Oh, lord” about a morbidly obese man on the next corner, or a quiet chuckle as they see a heavy woman trying to squeeze into a too-small chair on a food court. Hypocrites.
You have no idea the jokes that are made to my overweight father’s face. To his FACE. He’s the kindest man I know, and he’s fat, and he knows it, and yet even his “friends” and “family” make remarks that break my heart. To his FACE.
Because he’s “fat,” it’s somehow all right.
People are often ASSHOLES, even “nice” people, and it’s about time they know these comments cut and they cut deeply. At least Maura Kelly had the balls to sign her name to her words.
This conversation needs to be had. Accepting people who are 35% obese and greater as just something we have to get used to is dangerous to our health as a society. But skinny-fat people who scarf down their fast food with no regard for sodium, heart health, or diabetes, they aren’t doing society any favours either, and the hypocrisy is glaring.
Ultimately, the conversation has to shift from what healthy LOOKS LIKE to what healthy IS.
Judging overweight people by their exteriors is stupid and foolish, but being permissive of an ever-enlarging population to just keep getting bigger, while chuckling at it and making it part of our entertainment, well… that’s not solving the problem either — and actually hurts those it purports to include in “Hollywood”.
Is there an easy solution?
Yes. As a society, we regulate food like we do anything that can kill people. We must stop legally catering to commercial food producers who see it as “product” and not our health. We tax those foods that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases so that it pays for the medical care it will surely one day demand.
We ditch shit food, we celebrate farmers, we learn to cook, we eat in moderation, and we exercise.
All of us.
Because most of us are killing ourselves — fat and thin. And it’s really not okay anymore — especially not when, in countries like Canada, the rest of the population picks up the tab for it.
You may hate Maura Kelly for her ideas and her attitude, but she should keep her job, because she’s done what she was hired to do — she got us all talking.