Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fatties Need To Get A Room

So, I've seen a lot of things published. I work for a publishing house, after all. Some of it makes you wonder the sanity/intelligence/soberness (is that a word?) of the author. BUT you have to remember that regardless of how crazy the thought, it usually must first be approved by an editor. Usually multiple editors.

Now, I've sure you have felt offended by what someone has written. Just the other day, there was a CNN article about the trouble with the Headstart program. What made me furious was that people assumed that 1) preschool teachers were basically glorified babysitters and 2) it's up to the parent to teach their kids. By no means does that mean that I think parents should step back and stop being involved in their child's life. My point is that preschool is about more than just learning the ABCs and 123s. It's about socialization and getting them ready for a grade school schedule that doesn't revolve around their needs. Obviously you can tell I'm passionate about this topic.

No doubt there's a certain degree of pride a writer takes in knowing that what they have to say will chap the hide of some people. Most editors (good editors) will try to curb their writers to make it so they get a rise without offending their entire readership.

And then you have Marie Claire. Yes, the Marie Claire. As in, the Marie Claire who sponsors Project Runway. The Marie Claire with a huge subscriber list filled with women. I've honestly never had the pleasure of reading an issue in the last few months (I have time to read?), and after this I will most likely not being picking up a copy any time soon. 

So, why do you think, they would let their writer publish this: Should Fatties Get A Room? (Even On TV)? It's written by Maura Kelly. 

Here's an little look at it (in case the editors take it down):

"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 sitcomMike & 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."
Ticked off yet?

Is your blood boiling? Are you just ready to pound someone? 

Of course, Maura quickly backtracked her piece:

"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% 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."

 Here's my thing:

1) Why is it okay for a "thin" couple to make out, but not an obese couple? 

2) Further more, why does she let it bother her? I hate seeing teenagers make out (despite the fact that I'm less than a decade away from my high school graduation, that sounds strange. And yes, I do seem to channel my mother. However, I just hate seeing 14 year olds make out), but that doesn't mean that I think that they should be locked in their rooms until they are adults! 

3) Either stand firm on your opinion or don't publish it at all. Maura couldn't possibly think that this wouldn't offend a vast majority of her readers. To think that it wouldn't is just naive.

But you know what offends me the most? That an editor for a major magazine with a majority of female readership (with most likely a high-percentage of overweight to obese readers) would allow this to go through. I don't care what CNN article may have spurred it. The reality is that a magazine stood behind the opinion of one size-ist woman who can't even stand behind her own opinions.

Of course, then again, how much can you really trust a magazine that offers such delights as:
- 10 Tips for Avoiding a holiday dating disaster
- A year of living flirtatiously

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Jack said...

Well now, I suppose that if you want to sell magazines at any cost than that is the kind of article you include.

Angi said...

It's amazing how far people will go these days. Unfortunately, I wonder just how many people really do agree with them.