Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Hate You for Making Me Write "Sizeist" So Often: It Makes Me Feel Like A Douchebag

I’m going to call this a Fat Tuesday, even though I’m posting on a Thursday *gasp*, because I’m going to be addressing weight issues and media, and hell, if that doesn’t qualify for the Fat Tuesday tag, I don’t know what does. I’m adding my voice to the resounding response to Maura Kelly’s painfully ill-considered and badly written rant about CBS’s new sitcom, Mike & Molly.

When I decided to write on this subject, I was amused to find that the first few issues I had with Ms. Kelly’s blog had more to do with her writing style than her topic. Now, I am not pretending to be a pro at this (I’m certainly not being paid by for my ignorant ramblings, as Ms. Kelly STILL is). I’m not a grammar Nazi (unless you flub your too/to/twos too many times) and I prefer a looser, more conversational blogging style. So I’m not going to bitch about grammar and syntax and scholarly style norms, or any such nonsense, because I consider those concerns a bit too pedantic for this particular format. HOWEVER. This woman is a lazy writer. At least 3 posts on her blog in the past month begin with “My editor asked me what I thought about X” Yawn. Seriously. This may in fact be how you come to be writing on these particular subjects, but A) I, as a reader, don’t want to hear about your editor passing down assignments. I want to believe you’ve personally put some thought into your posts. Cut out the editor and give me the polite illusion of a personal touch, would ya? B) Variety. Please, goddammit. Your structure is ridiculously dull and static. Skimming your blog archive, Ms. Kelly, I am struck by an irritating same-ness in your writing. To then swell these problems with an (arguably unintentionally) offensive and sizeist rant is just… Immensely irritating.

Alright, onto the meat of the post: “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.” I think it is fascinating that, having admittedly never watched the show, you feel qualified to judge the implicit messages of the “text”. Would you write an essay on sexism in Moby Dick without reading it, simply because you’d been told there aren’t any women in it? I would hope not. That is essentially what you are doing by suggesting implicit messages in a show you have never seen. Additionally, YOUR implicit message is that “naturally skinny” people are, almost by default, healthy. Ummm, no. (See what I did there? Fatties can play the “implicit” game too.) Fitness and health are not actually directly and exclusively linked to weight or BMI, as your implicit thesis suggests. And where did you get your medical degree, Ms. Kelly, to be making these generalizations with such conviction in the first place? Oh right, you didn’t. You just listen to the talking heads feeding our unhealthy media obsession with weight. Carry on, then…

Ms. Kelly goes on to say “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”, and then compares watching a fat person walk to WATCHING A HEROIN ADDICT. Wow. Are you trying to earn points for your asshole merit badge? (Setting aside the painfully obvious racist and homophobic echoes of this sentiment, because really, it is a little ludicrous to conflate weight with race or sexuality, since weight is, at least in theory, something which is within the individual’s power to change, unlike race/sexuality) Human beings are not subject to your personal aesthetic preferences. You don’t have to like the way my fat ass looks, Ms. Kelly, but you do have to treat me, and all the other “fatties,” like human beings. Your ill-considered blog doesn’t do that. It minimizes, ridicules, and dehumanizes us, reducing not only the stars of Mike & Molly but ALL fat people to simple ambulatory displays for your personal aesthetic evaluation. Fuck. You. Very much. I can’t be arsed to care whether the sight of my body disgusts you or not, and I sure as hell don’t want, or deserve, to hear about it. I’m fine with you being privately offended by my appearance, Ms. Kelly, but you should bloody well keep your sizeist bullshit in your head, where it belongs and hurts no one but yourself.

And then comes my favorite paragraph. “Now, don't go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some sizeist jerk. And I also know how tough it can be for truly heavy people to psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down. (For instance, the overweight maintenance guy at my gym has talked to me a little bit about how it seems worthless for him to even try working out, because he's been heavy for as long as he can remember.)” Oh my purple-flying-monkey-god, tell me she didn’t. Did she honestly pull “But I’m not racist/homophobic/sexist because even though I am not an (icky) green/gay/woman myself, I have a FRIEND who is.” Also? Plump=/=obese. And you’re kind of a sizeist jerk for caring/noting your friend’s “plump”ness to justify your sizeist jerkhood. It’s a vicious cycle; see how that works? Final point: you don’t KNOW how hard it is, do you? Have you ever needed to lose even 30 pounds (or more) for health reasons? (I know, because of her apology and bio, that Ms. Kelly is a recovering anorexic. Which… kind of tells me she has NO IDEA how hard it can be to lose weight. Anorexia and extreme overeating are on completely different ends of the body control/dysmorphia spectrum.) You cite the maintenance guy at your gym as your reference for this knowledge? For reals? Wow. So… some guy you’ve watched mop up the showers told you in passing he doesn’t see the point in trying, and so you now, as result of these interactions, are qualified to comment on the invisible difficulties of weight loss? LOL, I think not, but thanks for playing. Or, y'know, not.

Finally, Ms. Kelly offers to give health and diet tips. “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.” OMG, earth shattering news! Exercise more and eat better! I think I’ve lost 5 pounds just reading that thought, random blogger! What. A. Revelation. So, you insult my aesthetic worth, minimize my very real struggle with weight loss, and then condescend to my poor fat ass by passing along the advice I’ve been hearing since grade school. Seriously?

Returning to the initial problem: Ms. Kelly posits that Mike & Molly is implicitly suggesting that obesity is good, or healthy, or fun, or some shit like that. Without having ever seen the show, and knowing only that “I guess these characters are in Overeaters Anonymous. So ... points for trying?” If the only thing you know about a show is that it features overweight people falling in love and ATTENDING WEIGHT MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS, how exactly do you arrive at the conclusion that the show is PROMOTING obesity? I HAVE seen a few episodes of the show, and while I am not a fan of it for various unrelated reasons, I feel the show is more about people, regardless of weight, leading normal lives. Shockingly, fat people are just as capable of finding love and holding down jobs as skinny people, and this happens to be a show about such people. And hey, the fatties are ostensibly trying to lose the weight, so… they’re promoting obesity? Does. Not. Compute.

PS: the suggestion made by some commenters that Melissa McCarthy should be contractually obligated to lose weight on/for the show to mitigate the “yay Fatties!” effect? Should go suck on an exhaust pipe. When contracts start including weight clauses to prevent actresses from dropping to unhealthy weights during the course of a show, then you can TRY putting in weight loss clauses. When Lea Michelle and the 90210 girls stop melting away before my eyes, then you can start pressuring Ms. McCarthy to drop a few. Otherwise, stuff your hypocrisy up your puckered asshole, m’kay?

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