Much has been written about on the vast Internet over the last 48 hours about a Marie Claire blog post, “Should Fatties Get a Room? (Even on TV?),”* in which an admitted former anorexic expresses her disgust at watching obese people kiss each other, among other startlingly hateful, obtuse, and uninformed statements (sample: “I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over.”)
She ends the piece (which, to add insult to injury, isn’t even well-written—it’s just a stream of rambling Carrie Bradshaw-lite drivel) by asking, 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?
I realize I’m a day or two late, but I’d like to add my voice to the millions by saying: Yes, asshole, on both counts.
*I’m not linking to it, because it’s gotten enough traffic without my help.
But this is much bigger than one woman’s misguided judgment and self-hating prejudices.
Women’s magazines have been telling us to hate ourselves for years—they’ve just never been this blatant about it. Usually the message gets disseminated through more benign fare, like vapid guidelines to getting “Your Best Bikini Body Ever!” or lists of “Foods That Are Secretly Ruining Your Diet.” We also get the message through endless photo spreads featuring stick-thin models and flat-stomached celebrities (who, if we’re lucky, aren’t airbrushed beyond recognition and haven’t had any ribs digitally removed).
Ultimately I can forgive the writer, Maura Kelly. Not because she’s troubled—which she clearly is, having at one point starved herself down 70 pounds, which suggests to me that her fat hatred comes from a very troubling and personal place—but because she is not the reason this message of ignorance and hate got such a wide audience. Yes, she wrote it, and yes, it’s horrible, but for a piece to get published on the site of a national magazine, it must at the very least be vetted by an editor.
So, really, I blame Marie Claire.
I blame them for allowing the piece to be published and for giving Kelly a national platform.
I blame them for neglecting to respond to the situation—which, surely, they must have been made aware of—for a full 24 hours.
I blame them for sacrificing their brand’s dignity by ignoring the overwhelming outrage of its readers in exchange for site traffic.
I blame them for not taking the post down and replacing it with an apology, or at the very least prefacing it with one.
I blame them for—finally—responding by saying, obliquely, that Maura Kelly “is a very provocative blogger,” and that the author was “excited and moved by the responses.” (First of all, Marie Claire, that is not an apology. An apology would have included the word “sorry.” An apology would not have excused her disgusting prose by calling it “provocative.” In other poor word choices, I’m confused as to why Ms. Kelly was “excited” by the response to her piece. The comments pilloried her—is she excited about being called a “horrible human being” and “fucking bitch”? Thousands of people said they would cancel their subscriptions —is she excited about saving some trees?)
And, lastly, I blame them for being a shitty excuse for a magazine even before this idiot came along.
Obviously I’ll never buy a copy of MC or visit the site again. But while this article is the symptom, it’s not, in and of itself, the disease. That’s a much, much longer post, and a much, much larger issue. All I can do is make the choice not to read any publication, whether in print or online, that tells me—explicitly or implicitly—that I’m not good enough.
The truth is, they’re not good enough. They’re not worth our while. They’re what’s disgusting about society, not a couple of tummy rolls on a television actress.
So, what do you guys think? Magazines telling us to hate ourselves — are you cool with it? Or do you think I’m being an insensitive jerk?