Should “Assholes” Get a Column? (Even on the Internet?)

26 10 2010

I try to avoid internet drama. I find things that entertain me and write about them, because I like a good laugh and want to help my readers laugh as well. While I write about serious things in my life, by and large, I don’t address a lot of broad controversial topics.

Knowing that, you’ll understand just how angry I must be to write this post.

To understand my ire, you’ll need to read the blog post about overweight couples on television.

All caught up now? Excellent. I’m so sorry I made you read that.

We must note this all-important fact: “I have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.” Thank goodness! I’d hate to think this article was written by a woman with only skinny friends. That would make it completely unacceptable. Knowing she has a few plump friends reassures me that she really understands the plight of overweight individuals.

Sadly, her insight doesn’t prevent her from spewing vitriol. “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.”

Because I’m in a giving mood, I’ll overlook the use of “heroine” rather than “heroin.” (Although I must admit I’m entertained by the idea of someone being addicted to strong female characters.) I will not, however, overlook the fact that she’d be “grossed out if [she] had watch them doing anything.”

In what world is this an okay thing to say? Let’s do a few modifications and see how well it would go over with the general audience:

“I’d be grossed out if I had to watch black people doing anything.”

“I’d be grossed out if I had to watch anorexic people doing anything.”

“I’d be grossed out if I had to watch gay people doing anything.”

Of course, I can’t even bring myself to use pejorative terms in the examples I’ve given, unlike whomever chose the title for Maura Kelly’s article (Should “Fatties” Get a Room?).

Speaking as a woman who is, in fact, morbidly obese, I can’t begin to tell you how hurtful Ms. Kelly’s statements are. I live my life certain that others are judging me. On my good days, I can convince myself that thinking thus is the height of self-centeredness. After all, what stranger has the time to sit and judge me?

Oh. Never mind, then. Apparently my mere presence walking across a room is disgusting. Glad to know my paranoia wasn’t unwarranted.

Am I saying obesity is healthy? Of course not. I have osteoarthritis (though it’s not confined to weight-bearing joints). I have high blood pressure and a genetic predisposition to Type II Diabetes. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a healthy woman.

That’s not the point. Being unhealthy doesn’t make me disgusting. If the heroin addict weren’t slumping in a chair, would Ms. Kelly recognize him or her as unhealthy? Would she consider that person worthy of derision? Or is it only acceptable to mock those whose problems are clearly evident to the world at large?

Fortunately, Ms. Kelly has the solution! “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.”

This condescending statement is, perhaps, even more offensive to me than any others she makes—it plays to the thought that any person who becomes obese must be uneducated and unable to figure out how he or she can possibly begin to lose weight.

Hey, guess what? The large majority of obese people know exactly how to lose weight. (Hee. I said “large”! I’m just as funny as Maura Kelly! Quick, someone pay me money!) We aren’t stupid or uninformed, but it’s just not that easy.

Or is it? “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.” So…I just have to really, really try this time. No more half-assing it! Fantastic! I can even apply this advice to other areas of my life. Say, for example, my crippling depression. I can control it if I just put my mind to it! And hey, if I can manage that, maybe simply getting out of bed in the morning won’t be a task of herculean proportions and going jogging will be a piece of cake! (Hee! Piece of cake!) Or hey, I’ll just reread The Secret, and simply direct all of my thoughts in a positive direction. That’ll do it, right? Right?!

The article by Ms. Kelly is more than insulting, it’s just plain damaging. No segment of the population should ever have to read something like that directed toward them, and I’m mortified that anyone would actually publish it. In their Media Kit, Marie Claire states, “We understand that our readers are more than any label or stereotype could place on them, and we celebrate that every reader is more than a pretty face.”

This post is a sad way to clearly demonstrate their lack of understanding.

Shame on you, Maura Kelly, for writing such a hurtful post.

But really? I believe the true burden of shame falls upon Marie Claire for publishing something so hateful that thousands of women and teenage girls will read.

The next time people ask where our children learn it’s okay to bully? I’ll just point them toward Ms. Kelly and Marie Claire.




29 responses

1 11 2010

When I click the link, as well as the one on Bloggerbodycalendar, it just comes up with a list of her blogs but not the specific one. Have they removed the original offending blog? Does someone have a link to it so I can re-read it?

31 10 2010
Cat Lady

Think about how wonderful it was to see a couple in love, like Archie and Edith Bunker on tv when they kissed and hugged. I’d rather see that then Paris Hilton’s tongue sliding into the mouth of another random stranger. We’ve become so superficial as a society; there really aren’t people on television over a certain age, over-weight or “ugly” (in their terms) unless they’re playing a character role. Actors are now ex-models. It all depends on looks. I have diabetes on both sides of my family and poly-cystic ovarian disease. No matter what I do, the weight sits on my stomach. Her article called attention to the matter of how rude some people are. I always think that the more you let stupid people talk, the more it becomes obvious what they’re all about.

29 10 2010

I couldn’t resist. I wanted to know how she even ended up writing that stupid degrading article…

This is what I found:
A Writer’s Story is Never Finished
by Julia Plevin ’09
“As Holden Caulfield demonstrates in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, growing up is really hard and sometimes everyone in the world feels like a phony. Maura Kelly ’96 found solace in Salinger’s classic novel because it made her feel like she was not so alone. She struggled with anorexia growing up and credits the psychologists who worked with her for helping her to overcome the disorder. She was so thankful to her psychologists that she decided to major in psychology at Dartmouth so she could one day help others in the same way.
Upon graduation, Kelly reread Catcher in the Rye and decided that being a psychologist no longer appealed to her and what she really wanted to do was write a book that would “make people feel less alone in the world.” While at Dartmouth, Kelly busied herself with her psychology major, Dartmouth Recycles, Amnesty International, and helping to found Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, but she had not done anything with writing besides papers and a few poetry classes.
After graduation, she decided to pursue her dream of writing a book but recognized that she first needed some money and some training as a writer.”

I can’t help but think that divine intervention was in motion to prevent her from becoming a psychologist! If she really wanted to help people she shouldn’t have become a “writer” either! (I lose that term lightly!)
Jen, you are the one who should get paid for writing! Give it a try! I am sure I am not the only one who prefers to read your words!

29 10 2010
The Zany Housewife

Definitely a publicity stunt and a foolish one on her/Marie Claire’s behalf. Idiots all of them. There is a reason why I avoid those magazines like the plague. I’m not even going to bother reading that article. Don’t want to give them anymore hits on their site.

29 10 2010

I cried. It’s just so hateful. Thank you Jenn, for telling it like it is.

29 10 2010
Tiffany @momnom

I saw the drama. I refuse to read her post. But I’ve head all the posts in response to her post. FUCK HER. That’s all I got.

29 10 2010
Brent Hill

I loved this post! I completely agree with you!

29 10 2010

I know I am going to annoy you.

I know that.

But when someone puts out a piece that is so filled with hatred and hostility?

All she is looking for in this world is a response. Publicity, emotion, excitement, and a response. Which is what she is getting.

Obviously, she is wrong.

And you are right.

But that you linked her here? Drove more traffic to her writing? Got her more of the exact negative attention she was seeking?

That makes me sad.

I love you.

And your position is correct.

But I can’t help feeling that all of these posts demonizing Maura Kelly?

Give her exactly what she wanted.

So there is that.

28 10 2010
That article from that one magazine. « A Happy, Healthy, Life

[…] great writer, has what I feel to be, the best response I have seen. Please visit her article, Should Assholes Get a Column, to read her thoughts on the matter. I promise you will be glad that you […]

28 10 2010

That article? Sick. Your response? Awesome! Oh guess what else, this article is making waves everywhere, and I am totally referring them to your response because it is just that awesome. 🙂

27 10 2010
Allison @ Alli 'n Son

I read your post yesterday, but forgot to comment. I too was outraged by the article. I just can’t fathom how something this hateful was every published.

Thanks for linking up with BBC2011!

27 10 2010

i love you. for this and for so many other reasons. but tonight especially for this. this is exactly what needed to be said.

27 10 2010

I used to be 220 lbs.

asking someone to control their weight that simply is like telling me i can control my bipolar disorder that simply. it’s just fucking wrong. and I’m with you here. I’m not a reader of magazines unless i’m in the waiting room of the docs office, but i’ll be sure to pass this on.

27 10 2010
Megan (Best of Fates)

When I first read the column I was angry, but now I’m just tired and over it. I feel bad for everyone who read it and was offended and I even feel bad for the author – while what she put out there is certainly hateful and prejudiced, some of what people are saying back to her is just as bad. And while it can be argued she was asking for it, I’m sure it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

But I think you’re right – Marie Claire shouldn’t have published such an article, though considering how much traffic they’re getting over it, I bet that’s not their opinion.

27 10 2010

Well said Jenn, you keep me coming back.

27 10 2010

As always you express yourself wonderfully! You totally capture, WELL, how outraged EVERYONE should be.

27 10 2010

I feel sorry for that women. Anyone who is that awful needs my prayers more than my contempt. Also maybe a barf bag if she has to watch me walk, breathe, or merely exist.

27 10 2010

“I have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.”

The weight-class version of “I’m not racist. I have black friends.” She’s the Michael Richards of the obesity epidemic.

There are a million more things I could say, but you have hit nearly all of them extremely well, sis. I see my own hurt feelings and daily weight-related travails reflected in your writing. Thanks.

26 10 2010

Wow. This chick obviously doesn’t have a clue. So glad her opinions are out there for impressionable young girls to read.

26 10 2010

Fabulous post!

And, yes, I was wondering about the heroine, but I actually pictured dejected second string characters after the main man gets the girl. I’m just weird like that.

I have to say that I was in shock when I read the original blog post. In shock enough to take time out of my normal posts about chicken chili and the cute things my kids say to actually…rant. Because, honestly, this is not acceptable. In any way, shape (ha!) or form.

26 10 2010

Nicole (above) wrote: “This article left me speechless. I can’t believe a nationally syndicated magazine would associate their name on this inflammatory piece of rubbish.”

Sadly, Nicole – I can believe it. We see it all the time in the national media, only it’s generally not this blatant. Marie Claire has done it frequently with their eating disorder articles and their inability to comfortably show women of size in their pages as the normal, everyday women that they are.

We exist, but they’d rather we not – and they’ll pretend that we don’t.

26 10 2010

Still. Trying. To. Pull. My. Jaw. Off. The. Floor. Unbelievable. Thank you for your commentary. I wouldn’t know where to begin! What happened to thinking before you speak…or write??!! She must be one of the “new” generation who has to splash every thought they have across the internet without a thought of whether or not they SHOULD!

26 10 2010

Two words: Shocked and ANGRY!

26 10 2010

man, what a bitch. i like how she tries to make it seem like she is very concerned for the health of the nation, and not that she’s a horrible person. but clearly she is.

26 10 2010

Have you read at the bottom…her rediculous attempt at an apology? People like this are judgemental, and hateful and that is all there is to it. I once had a teacher who stated that in order for a people to really become non-predjudicial that it was imperative to actually SEE color/the differences between people. That is the only way to change things from an us vs them mentality.
It is people like Ms. Kelly who claim they are non-predjudicial, who try to fit all people into a strict set of attributes that are seen as “ok”, who are the true bigots.
I don’t think anyone has the right to set back and point at another person and say “you change…be like me and then you can be happy/acceptable.” Let alone claiming that having 2 people who are overweight, let alone obese on prime time television will encourage obesity.
When will people realize that the over abundance of extremely thin people in the media us extremely damaging?
I am angry. If I felt hate-mail was appropriate I would send it. Ms. Kelly is a bully. Then again, so are most “beauty” magazines.
Sometimes…people suck.

26 10 2010
La Yen

The first thing I thought while I was reading was “she said ‘large.'”

So glad you went there first.

Marie Clare is full of crap.

26 10 2010


The way to get rid of depression is to pray more.


26 10 2010

This article left me speechless. I can’t believe a nationally syndicated magazine would associate their name on this inflammatory piece of rubbish. I just got a Marie Claire magazine renewal letter…I think I’m going to torch it instead of just tossing it in the trash.

I may be 300 pounds, bu…t I’m beautiful.I’m active, exercising multiple times a week. I eat extremely healthfully (minus the Diet Coke and an occasional cupcake). But I know it’s a lifetime of emotional issues, verbal abuse, and lack of acceptance that keep me from my skinny jeans. All of my weight loss efforts are done in tandem with visits with my therapists. If Maura Kelly saw people like me sincerely trying, year after year, I wonder if she’d still hold the same opinion.

Thank you so much for speaking up. This is a post that needs to be read.

26 10 2010

I don’t even know what to say. Except “how the hell was she able to publish this?”

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