Log in

No account? Create an account

Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Okay, the Marie Claire thing
msauvage purple
Sure, let's discuss that.

What happened was, Maura Kelly over at Marie Claire wrote a blog post titled, "Should "Fatties" Get a Room? (Even on TV?)" I first heard about it because someone linked to a Fatshionista post that ably deconstructs the utter wrongheadedness of the whole thing. There are a lot of responses going around; I don't actually want to sit here and talk about what a terrible person Kelly is (although I am tempted to curse a lot), because I don't think that really gets to the root of the problem.

I think a lot of what Kelly says is what a lot people already think. It wouldn't have touched such a nerve if it didn't voice what a number of people already think--more to the point, what overweight people are afraid other people think. God knows I still feel like I ruined my college roommate's wedding pictures by being so much heavier than all the other bridesmaids. At the same time, she's the one who asked me to do it, you know? You hope that maybe your size doesn't matter to your friends, that they want you there anyway. You hope that if you're nice to people, if you never argue or disagree or put yourself forward too much, if you try to please people, they'll tolerate your presence. When people do things without you, you know it's because sometimes different combinations of people do different things together. But you wonder if it's because they'd rather have an outing where they don't have to worry about the Fat One, if she can keep up, if she'll be out of breath, if she'll get tired too soon, if she'll be shy and antisocial because her self-esteem is so low. Or maybe they'd just like to spend an evening out where they don't have to look at her, being all unappealing and different from them, for once. Maybe it is tiring, being friends with someone who grosses people like Maura Kelly out.

I still wonder if that weird incident at Five Guys was actually Mr. Hilarity letting my two attractive friends through and holding the "fattie" back. One time I was at a bar--my two roommates and I talking to three or four guys. I forget where the girls and two of the guys went--possibly back to the bar for fresh drinks--and the more-drunk-than-tactful guy left standing with me muttered, "Why do I always get stuck with the ugly one?" Because even I, with my self-esteem issues, can tell you that I have a relatively okay face, I'm going to assume he meant my weight.

So Kelly voices what those of us who are heavy fear everyone's already thinking. But then she goes one step further and says something I don't think even people who already think these things are willing to admit to:

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 [sic] addict slumping in a chair.
Wow. Okay, so now I'm a shambling monster. Outstanding.

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.
Well, except for the people who don't, because they have problems with diabetes, thyroid, weight gain from medications, or other medical complications.

...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.
Wait, I thought you were grossed out by having to see someone overweight walk across a room? Because, you realize, if we walk for exercise, we have to walk somewhere, and then you might have to see us. Which is one of the reasons I'm really shy about power-walking around the neighborhood, because people might be out and about and see me, and think, "God, how disgusting," or "Well, good, she NEEDS IT."

I admit that there's plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! 
If you work really hard at it, you can eventually stop grossing me out! *CHEER*

It will take some time, but you'll also feel so good, physically and emotionally.
Because obviously you care so much about how I feel!

Look, I'm not gonna lie to you. I'm going in for bloodwork (yeah, the bloodwork I was supposed to go in for a while ago. Things happen) to see if I do have any medical issues contributing to my weight. I've lost about twelve pounds due to stress over the last few weeks; I can lose weight. I need to, because my health is in danger. At least a hundred pounds' worth of danger. I'm trying. I've been trying for a long time. I don't think I have a whole lot of time left to "try." I don't like the way I look; I don't like the way I feel. It's often humiliating and uncomfortable and inconvenient (especially when you're trying to buy something nice or formal to wear in your size, which might as well be Size Unicorn for how often you find something cute in it. And then you can't go places and do things because you have nothing to wear). Blog posts like Kelly's are the reason I don't want to show you a picture of myself. One time I did show some internet friends an old picture, actually--of when I wasn't even this heavy, when I was in college--and later, there was one of those anonymous hate meme entries around the time my book came out.

Anon #1: "God, cleolinda's head has gotten so big since she published that book."

Anon #2: "Have you seen what she looks like? Let her have her book and her cheating internet boyfriend."

(This is also why I don't ever tell y'all about my personal life.)

However, not many people knew about either of those things. Too many people--a double handful, maybe--knew about those things for me to narrow down who it was. But it had to be someone I had trusted. And my looks--my weight--were the thing they chose to be catty about, the thing they used to betray me. Because Maura Kelly is not the only person who thinks like this.

Back to what I was saying:

What people either forget or don't realize is that weight--too much or too little or pretty much any size at all, really--usually involves intense emotional issues. Making people feel bad about it is generally not going to light a fire under their ass, massive or otherwise, to do something about it. It's usually not going to make them want to lose weight and ~show you, ha!~ Or rather, let me speak for myself here: telling me that people like me gross you out makes me afraid to leave the house and do anything about it. It makes me wonder why I should even bother to try, if there are people like you out there in the world. It makes me want to curl up and die.

@Ceilidhann: @cleolinda Don't worry though, she's just as disgusted by anorexics as she is by the overweight. Eating disorders are so effing hilarious!

@cleolinda: It's good to know she is equal opportunity in her disgust for people.

Which I think this is what it really comes down to. When you talk about how the "fatties" disgust you, you are speaking of a theoretical group in your head. I really do not think there is a single person, overweight or underweight, that could walk up to Maura Kelly and ask her if they disgusted her, and Kelly would be able to say "Yes." Because then she'd have to say that to a real person. Would she be grossed out if Gabourey Sidibe had won the Oscar and walked up to the podium? Is she grossed out when one of her "plump" friends (because if they're her friends, of course, they're just "plump") approaches her? No? What's that, you say? Because people who have names and faces she knows are, you know, people to her? You don't say. And when those individuals say, "How dare you say something so callous and demeaning and self-centered," suddenly it's but I didn't mean you! I meant the really obese! Who are... also people. Like your "plump" friends and the "plus-size women" your magazine pays lip service to and the occasional Sassy Actress. But you know their names, so they don't gross you out. I mean, I'm assuming, out of generosity. Maybe you really think they're all revolting too and this entire point is moot.  

This is all an excellent example of dehumanizing a group of people, in case you were wondering.

@maureenjohnson: UPDATE: @MarieClaire editor gives pointless, uncomprehending defense of post on overweight couples: http://tinyurl.com/28pogpy

“Maura Kelly is a very provocative blogger,” Coles told us. “She was an anorexic herself and this is a subject she feels very strongly about.” Coles said the mag has received over 28,000 email responses to the piece, and that Kelly was “excited and moved by their responses.”

(As Kelly herself says in her edit/apology: "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.")

@cleolinda: I am glad that Maura Kelly is "excited and moved" by my new fear of leaving the house and disgusting people.

[Actually, it's not a new fear, but the article has definitely reinforced it.]

@cleolinda: I'm not willing to [say that she is "a disgusting human being"]. I think what she said was disgusting. I am not going to judge her as a whole person.

@cleolinda: I'm with @maureenjohnson on this--I would prefer to criticize @MarieClaire editors for letting that go through and calling it "provocative."

@maureenjohnson: @cleolinda They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

@cleolinda: @maureenjohnson I think it means "People are paying attention to us! YAY!"

This is why I feel like it was incredibly irresponsible of Marie Claire to let this go through, if they had any oversight or preview of what Kelly was going to post. If commenters were able to point out the anorexia angle to Kelly, that means that she was open about her medical issues with her readers, and that, even if Fatties Gross Me Out somehow did not alarm the Marie Claire editors on general principle, it is possible or even likely that an editor should have had second thoughts about this sentiment coming from Kelly in particular.

@cleolinda: I'm still amazed that @MarieClaire thought it would be a good idea to have a post on "fatties" from a writer suffering from anorexia.

[That is to say, someone with a genuine medical problem whose issues, which would include body dysmorphia, would give her a skewed perception of the topic.]

@maureenjohnson: @cleolinda You'd think, right? Maybe that was the problem: lack of thinking.

@cleolinda: @maureenjohnson But no! They thought a lot about how "provocative" it was! *nods*

@ohyoda: @cleolinda That's what I'm saying. Didn't the article raise a red flag for ANYONE?

@cleolinda: @ohyoda Honestly, I suspect they clapped their hands and waited for the page hits to roll in.

Or, to put it another way,

@maureenjohnson: My problem with the @MarieClaire article is more with the editors than the writer. The writer states she is/was anorexic. The magazine...

@maureenjohnson: ...not only let a sloppy and strange article out that did damage to readers, they also fed the writer's own disease.

@maureenjohnson: Then they let her hang herself with that terrible apology. They were asleep on the job.

But they were publishing a provocative opinion, you guys! Bringing in page views is great, right? I don't see how this could possibly affect their sales!

@cleolinda: I mean, yes, Maura Kelly saying she is grossed out to watch a "fattie" walk across a room means that I will never buy a @MarieClaire again.

@cleolinda: I mean, if I gross you out by walking, I am thinking it would gross me out to watch a @MarieClaire go into my grocery cart.

@maureenjohnson: Have YOU suggested a counterpoint writer to @marieclaire yet? They have turned to Twitter for ideas. Let's not let them down.

@RonHogan: @maureenjohnson Well, let's start with @marieclaire "plus-size columnist" @Ashley_Falcon -- surely she has an opinion about that article.

@maureenjohnson: @RonHogan That would be a good start. I'd also like to see Beth Ditto, @cleolinda, and, just for good measure, Nicholas Sparks.

Well, here you are.

ETA: From @maureenjohnson: "UPDATE on @marieclaire: having combed Twitter for entries, they are now posting random things under the banner of 'Free speech is beautiful'." Yes, I suppose thoughtless, self-centered, demeaning speech is just as protected as any other.

ETA: Marie Claire pretty much set Maura Kelly up to fail on purpose.

Site Meter

It makes me want to curl up and die.

Or, in some cases, it makes some of us want to be more pro-active about such a mission and help our own dying along.

(Deleted comment)
It's a horrible piece. And about the only thing that keeps me believing in humanity (DON'T STOP, BELIEEEVIN'!) were the comments that article got. Just about every single one was OMGWTFBBQ!1!!1

Jezebel did a great piece on the article...


...and highlighted one commenter in particular, Beth, who had this to say on the MC article...

"Dear Maura Kelly, I sincerely apologize for my disgusting body and all the various rolls of fat on my person. When I married my fat husband back in June I didn't realize it would offend anyone when we got to that "you may kiss the bride" moment, or we would have skipped it. If I'd realized how unacceptable it is for me to have love or happiness, I would have called the wedding off entirely, of course. I have told my husband that there will be no more kissing or cuddling or FATTY SEX until we both lose some weight. I hope he understands... I really am so sorry for being so fat and happy all this time! In your very honest and sensitively written article "should fatties get a room?" you write that fat people should walk more, yet you also write that fat people walking across a room is something you find disgusting. I take long walks around my neighbourhood most days, is this too much? I want to find the correct balance between getting thin and not upsetting anyone with my jiggling body parts. I also swim twice a week and go to the gym once a week, are these activities also disgusting to you? Perhaps I should start doing these activities at night so nobody has to be offended by them. Do you think that would be best? I don't own a television so I haven't seen Mike and Molly. But I do hope they take garbage like off the television soon. As you say, it's implicitly promoting obesity. Surely anyone who watches it will see the yucky fat people making out and suddenly think to themselves "I should gain some weight, that looks like fun." And then where would we be? By the way, I haven't ever had any health problems before but if anything does come up I'll be sure to stay away from the doctor so as not to be a drain on anyone's health costs. Thank you for writing this meticulously well researched, world-changing article. I really think you are going to cure obesity with this! Yay! Your plump friends are very lucky to have a friend like you who is in no way a hateful bully or an ignorant sizeist jerk. Best wishes, Beth"

Basically, I want Beth to be my new BFF.

Beth is awesome. That is all.

This is what's going on in the world of magazine publications? I'm glad I'm not a consumer. It also makes me realize that the middle-school 'populars hating on the losers' mentality never ends - it only mutates.

Isn't that the sorry truth...

I've never bought a Marie Claire magazine. This guarantees I never, ever will.

MK: 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.

cleolinda: Well, except for the people who don't, because they have problems with diabetes, thyroid, weight gain from medications, or other medical complications.

You're absolutely right, but to me, it doesn't matter? Why not? Because either way, they're people. Real people with real feelings, some of which may or may not be tied to their weight, which doesn't affect you (the general "you" here, not cleolinda-you) unless YOU choose to be "disgusted" by it. (And here's where they parrot the line about health care costs blah blah, like that ever matters to people except when they want to make judgments about OTHER people's health choices.) No matter what someone looks like, no matter how many cheeseburgers they want to eat, they are people, and although we all have the legal right to be horrible to them, as fellow human beings we should choose love instead of bigotry.

(It's like when people say "well, being gay is a choice, so blah blah blah." It's not. But... what if it was? They're still people.)

Well, true. I just particularly enjoyed pointing out additional failures of logic in the post. Including "walk, but don't walk in front of me."

This. That's about all I can do.

As a "fattie" I can tell you my first reaction over this article was "die in a fire" (as was my second, third and fourth, actually). I have since moved on (mostly) to a state of "that the hell was Marie Claire thinking. Ok so I know free publicity is good and all but really? REALLY?!?! The fuck?

The writer is a moron. I'm sorry she has body issues but she can suck it. I will walk wherever I want, kiss who ever and where I want and if she (or anyone else) doesn't like it they can kiss my giant jiggly butt (I have lots of room so bring it on!)

I also love that picking on the fatties is still apparently ok. We are in the middle of a whole "It gets better campaign" and we are forever talking about how bad bullying has gotten in school and yet its tots ok to pick on fat/overweight/chubby/fluffy/bigboned/husky/tubby/plump/etc PEOPLE.

I'm in college, there is a guy who has a "No fat chicks" sticker on his truck. This is apparently perfectly fine. I wonder if it would be ok to have a "No black people" sticker or "No gay people" sticker or "No retards" (sorry, I hate that word!!) on my car on campus. Im going to put money in the "no" category. And yet I have seen that same sticker on that same truck for 3 semesters.

I hate people...probably not the best thing considering Im a social work major but seriously, its really hard right now not to.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Honestly, it mostly made me want to buy a pogo stick and go jiggle at Maura Kelly. Maybe show her my stretch marks too.

And as a general suggestion: I've never bought a Marie Claire off the newsstand, but my hair salon always has it. Maybe everyone could talk to their stylists about the salon canceling their subscriptions...

Ooooooh! In a spandex leotard!! Id totally be right next to you.

(Deleted comment)
There's a reason I do most of my walking just to walk at about midnight.

(Well, many, but one of them is that people don't see me.)

Likewise. I was bullied in school about my weight, my father constantly criticised me because of it (and now that he's started getting a beer belly in old age, you have better believe I make jokes about it to him!) and I've had friends mock fat people in front of me and then turn around and say, "oh, not you, honey" when called on it.

Is it any wonder that when I leave the house to do something as basic as go for a walk, I choose to do it at midnight when there's no one to point and laugh? God help anyone that tries to mug me, though - I'll threaten to sit on them.

You've given voice to a lot of my own fears about how I look, especially since the label plus size is so arbitrary in clothing sizes anymore. I'm plus sized today, or just a large normal person? Huh.

But what gets me is, where's the consequences? Isaiah Washington uses some gay slurs and has to go to rehab, plus loses his job in the long run. Where's her consequence?

I know I sound like I'm toting a torch and pitchfork, and maybe I am, but I hate the double standard of it being okay to insult one group of people, but not another.

I admire you for being able to write such a great, rational entry about this. My only thought at the moment is that I want to smash this Maura Kelly's head with a hammer, while singing Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

And that would be a merciful death for such a disgusting person.

I'm not willing to [say that she is "a disgusting human being"]. I think what she said was disgusting. I am not going to judge her as a whole person.

I judge her. If she said those things, if she thinks those things, than she's disgusting. There are some situations when I can't help but think in black and white. If I hear someone saying a horrible, racist thing, then they're horrible and racist. Period.

I'll be singing California Girls by The Magnetic Fields myself.

One time I did show some internet friends an old picture, actually--of when I wasn't even this heavy, when I was in college--and later, there was one of those anonymous hate meme entries around the time my book came out.

I remember that. The same person did the same thing to me. She's pretty much the same as Maura Kelly - loathsome and self-loathing.

I've always suspected who it was--DM me.

Saw this on your twitter (lucky! since I don't check LJ as much these days) This is great stuff. Thank you for such a well thought out response, Cleo. I was too busy sputtering with incoherent rage to really be articulate about it.

wow. I hadn't heard about this until now and as much as I would like that column to be a parody or something (and one in pretty poor taste at that) you're right in pointing out that Kelly isn't the only one who harbors irrational hate and disgust like this. I'm so impressed that despite horrible experiences in the past you were willing to put your personal experience with weight out there as evidence of why something like that column is so damaging and symptomatic of this county's obsession with weight. It's sad that "evidence" is needed in the first place - as though we couldn't just read that article and know how wrong it is without having to put a humanizing face on it.

Her assertion that you can judge a person's health just by looking at them is really abhorrent to me and is proof of the kind of entitlement so many people are operating under. And that she then has the gall to give people "advice" on how to lose weight, as though she's doing this because she cares, and not because her own self hatred is being projected onto other people. Just...wow.

And because I am so fabulous at staying on topic, AWESOME ICON.

I think idiocy 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.

There, much better.

Beautiful, though I would myself substitute "hatefulness" there.

Everything about this has hurt me, as someone who is proudly self-accepting as fat and someone who is proudly a recovering anorexic.

I am so glad to have years actively spent in the body-acceptance community to give me armor against this triggery bullshit.

I would like to point out that Kelly said that she would find it "aesthetically displeasing" (which we can take to mean it makes her actively displeased and unhappy) to see a fat person walking, but only "distressing" to see a stumbling drunk or heroin addict. Those are not the same thing. Apparently fat people are worse than alcoholic and drug addicts.

Well, even on an individual level, there's just so much more of us to look at.