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A FORMER "FATTY" RESPONSE TO MAURA KELLY

Posted Oct 28 2010 12:00am

Much was made about Maura Kelly/Marie Claire's article " Should 'Fatties' Get a Room?  (Even on TV?) ," and like many, I was completely outraged by what I read.  Still, I know my tendency to react emotionally - especially to a topic that hits home like this - so I wanted to wait a day before posting a response.   After giving it 24 hours, I'm outraged - but not at Maura Kelly.

Make no mistake:  what Maura Kelly wrote was not a wholly unpopular opinion.  In today's society, fat prejudice continues to remain one of the few socially acceptable forms of distrimination.   Fat jokes are funny!  It's funny to poke fun at fat people!  This is the message that is continually delivered in movies, tv, and comedy routines on a daily basis.  

As I made my way over to the Marie Claire website today, I was stuck by the irony of the ad that is featured on their home page:   Dove's Movement for Self-Esteem .  If I were a Dove exec, I'd be pulling that ad feature pronto.  Marie Claire has no intention of promoting self-esteem, as evident by the article in question still being sensationalized on it's site and all over the web.  Even in their feeble attempts to reach across the store to the plus size section of their demographic with their " Big Girl in a Skinny World " column, they miss the mark.  Articles like, "Ashley Falcon's Slimming Wardrobe Staples," and "Slimming Hair and Makeup Tricks" only confirm the message that is continually jammed down our throats (yes, pun intended):  SLIM is better.  SLIM is sexy.  SLIM is beautiful.  So do what you can to make yourself at least APPEAR slimmer! 

Personally, I happen to love fashion, beauty, and glamour.  I  celebrate that, and I do agree that I have more options in those departments now that I have lost 160 lbs.  But the interesting thing?  I have LESS self-esteem now, while my health is much better.  I embrace those fun, glitzy items and have fun with it, but my own personal self-esteem is a struggle.  This is most likely due to years of being told I was not acceptable in society, but also due to my own personal identity crisis as a now-slimmer woman.  As a heavy woman, I was confident!  I was secure!  I was beautiful!  Now, I'm thinner, and I realize that it makes no difference what the number is on the scale:  you'll always know there's something you can make "better."

I've watched a couple episodes of Mike & Molly, and I hated the show.  I found it to be very dumbed-down, stereotypical fat jokes.  My hope is that as the program grows in popularity, it will be less about the fat jokes, and more about humanity and acceptance of all shapes and sizes.  I think it's possible to be both funny and socially enlightening (Modern Family is a perfect example of that). One can only hope.

Like one of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster , my reaction to Maura Kelly is one of pity.  I'm sure her original attempt was to be brave and/or funny, but the fact that she so readily and openly displayed not only her own personal prejudices, but her ignorance about obesity in general only serves to prove how deep the problem really is.  She's not the only one who feels this way, and she's certainly not going to be the only one who doesn't educate herself about obesity.

While I don't feel her follow-up apology was heartfelt, I do believe she struggles with many of the same self-esteem issues - just on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I don't believe the fallout of this has changed her  personal opinion about "fatties," only whether or not she'll be so public with her sharing her strong opinions in the future.  I feel for her, and I'm thankful that even in my own personal struggle with self-acceptance, my heart and mind are open to the various shape, sizes, ethnicities, sexual preferences  in our society.  I can't imagine having a heart full of such hate - especially brain-washed-by-the-media hate.  I feel for her, and can only hope that this experience will prompt her to do more research, and be more open-minded.

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