Monday, November 01, 2010

Should "fatties" get a room?

Are you kidding me?

What I am about to  paste into this post will most likely anger you, as it did me. I heard this article read on The Talk; a new daytime talk show (which I am loving so far). had me seeing red and spittin' did Sharon Osborne and the rest of the ladies on the show.

This article was written by a Maura Kelly for Marie Claire magazine, it was titled "Should 'fatties' get a room? (Even on tv?)" yeah I know...already disgusting huh? Here's what she had to say...(I will include the entire post originally seen here, then bold the parts that really stood out as disgustingly horrendous. Then I will include her apology, written a few days later.)

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?

Her apology:

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.

Now, believe me...I have gotten looks from people too. I am not exactly playin' for the skinny team, so some may take this as a biased opinion...but I feel like what she said, especially the bolded part...was not only completely insensitive and mean, but also very small minded and ignorant...but I know she isn't alone in that type of thinking. And that's sad. Many commenters even spoke on how they feel that the apology was forced and very surface. Others felt her mentioning her own body image issues was a low blow stating that she can't blame her issues on how she treats other people...and I tend to agree. I feel that if you have body issues, then you should be one of the few that understand where others with body issues, be it obesity or anorexia are going through. So those words should have never left her mouth...or have been typed in this case.

Personally, I am also a bit appalled that Marie Claire would let this type of talk go in their magazine...with bullying so rampant these days it amazes me that talk like this would earn someone a paycheck.

So...Do you have a problem with overweight people kissing in public, or on TV? What are your thoughts on the article?


Anonymous said...

My wife and I both are big. We have not seen the show because she said it is too close to reality, and we don't need to see big people being made fun of on tv, we have enough of that in real life. HOWEVER, people are not the cookie cutter shapes that are found on "regular" tv either. I personally like when a larger than normal, or expected, actor/actress is cast in a show. The charachter Garcia from Criminal Minds for instance. Her size, and shape are who she is not a punch line. Her character could have been played by anyone, but the actress makes the character interresting and her size does not play into it. So, NO, "fatties" kissing on tv or in person does not gross me out. People are people, they bleed, breathe and die, no matter the shape or size. If you don't like what you see, turn away, or the channel.

Many Titles said...

I don't know if I even know what to comment... I am in such shock! That was plain and simple just hurtful. I am also not playing for the "skinny" team, but even if I was smaller I would still be offended. Really, I am in shock.

Brandy said...

Wow. That was appalling to say the least. I have no idea, what to say. I think I am almost more upset that the article passed through an editors hands and probably 2 or 3 other hands before being published.

Myya said...

WOW! I cannot even believe what I just read. Personally I don't have an issue with affection on tv as long as it doesn't go too far. Does anyone really want to watch soft porn on a family program? I've never thought about whether the people were thin or heavy hot or not if it is part of the storyline & I am interested in the show then what is the problem with what they look like??? It is so much more a reality then most of the couples they show on tv. That gal deserves all the lashing she is getting over writing that article!

- Sarah :-) said...

I LOVE Mike & Molly!! Seriously... love it. And I wonder what the actors on the show have said in response, if anything.

Hmm... interesting...

I thought her article was in SUPER poor taste. And whether or not she was genuine in her apology doesn't matter as much (at least, I don't think half of those kinds of printed apologies are ever genuine, anyways), but moreso the fact that she had to eat her words, swallow her pride, and probably take a chunk missing from her paycheck for all of it.

In magazines, it's not "any publicity is good publicity', but now she's tainted Marie Claire for the exact reasons you all are saying - the editors all passed it through to print.

I think it's silly that this happened at all... to be honest, I just think the show is funny. I don't know that I've ever really paid attention to their size and put it into terms of what I would watch. It's real. Skinny borderline-anorexic models aren't the only ones who fall in love and have stories to tell. In fact, I think I'd venture to say the opposite. :-)

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