If it's not one thing, it's another.Seriously.
First it's me dispensing ill-informed Haterade to mothers breast-feeding in public. Then it's a rash of suicides by young gays and lesbians caused by the relentless, baseless, hateful bullying of ignorant people. (Thank goodness for purple hats.) This week? It's a blog entry on Marie Claire's website, essentially saying fat people are disgusting and shouldn’t be shown on TV making out — or being otherwise happy or in love: Should "Fatties" Get a Room? (Even on TV?)
Palm to my face. Head to my desk. Our collective cup runneth over with stupidity and hatred. (I'd like to think I am equal parts less stupid and less hateful after my personal episode, though…)
Maura. Kelly. I know your plight. Obviously. I have been in your position very recently, albeit on a much smaller scale. I feel for you. It's a tough spot. But you are so dumb. You are really dumb. For real.
I'm sure there were a few commenters who chimed in to support her opinion. (Probably the kind of women who thought it was okay to play "Circle the Fat" with a soul-scarring Sharpie during their sororities' hazing rituals.) But most of the people who read the story — and had to sign up for an account, probably with their e-mail addresses, to leave a comment, which I resent — were infuriated. With good reason. And told her so. Some said really awful, equally baseless things about her as a person, which I don't agree with. But she wrote a diatribe against fat people, a demographic that's been growing exponentially (no pun intended, I swear) in the past few years. What did she expect?
Her editors have let this piece run because they knew it would generate page views. They knew the shit storm was a-brewin'. They had to. And they let it explode. They let those words fly to help their publication stay relevant and rise to the top among a bunch of women's magazines with absolutely no special qualities. (The same five stories run over and over in just about every magazine, with "___ Ways to Please Your Man" in the top position, so to speak.) Some women have been enraged enough to take action, at least with their purse strings: The e-mail address of Marie Claire's web editor, Kate Schweitzer, has been made known far and wide, and many women are writing in to let her know that they'll cancel their subscriptions and stop buying the magazine if something isn't done here. (To which I said: I had no idea, until yesterday, that Marie Claire was still in print. Which I guess was kind of the editors' point.)
Maura Kelly is a woman who has dealt with anorexia and clearly has many body-image issues she is NOT OVER — she copped to both in the comments and her half-hearted retraction/apology — and who has been given an uncensored platform to talk about whatever she wants as she copes with them. Someone who probably still cringes at what she sees when she looks in the mirror got free rein to hurt lord only knows how many other people. What. POSSESSES. People? The idea of compassion seems to have been lost on a big percentage of our population. To spew such utter nonsense, show such complete disregard for fellow human beings… Especially when it comes from a totally uninformed place deep in their hearts or heads… And people who had the power to stop it didn't… Really.
But, of course, there are bigger problems here than Marie Claire and its irresponsible editors. The fact that obesity has actually reached epidemic proportions — the fact that it's not just about the freshman 15 that never melted off, or eating one too many pints of Ben & Jerry's but extends to government, education, economics — should be some kind of signal that we need to stop judging people for being fat and look at things a little more broadly. Support those people who are struggling. Try to change the way we all live.
I want a day of good news. Some triumph on a grand scale, the happiness equivalent of a suicide bombing in a crowded market. A day without mud-slinging political advertisements. (November 3, I'm looking at you.) I want to see someone else perform a random act of kindness instead of perpetuating the indifference that seems to rule our everyday lives. I want a day where I can wake up, look in the mirror and not think to myself, "God, I'm so overweight." I weigh 190 pounds. I wear a size 12. But I'm almost six feet tall. And I've been going to the gym almost every day for the past month. I'm running at least five miles every week. And I practically flog myself every time I indulge in something delicious — well, overindulge…it's what I do. (I'm not made of stone.) I'm not built to be thin, not genetically disposed to fit into skinny jeans. But everything I see tells me it's what I should do: I should be thin. I should wear skinny jeans. I should be able to eat what I want and still lose weight. (Someone should be sued for making those commercials, by the way.) I put my scale away because those unflinching red numbers were making me hate myself. I refuse to go shopping because something about the mirrors and the lighting make me…well, they make me hate myself. I'm a fairly proportional woman in her 20s. My body is fine. I know this in my most rational of brains. If I struggle this much just to get through the day without thinking how awful I must look…
So really? I want a day where any woman can wake up and not think to herself, "God, I'm so overweight." Or feel at least like she can go out in public without feeling ostracized beyond the self-loathing she likely already feels. To be able to take the steps she needs to start losing the weight, if she wishes, but carry on with her life in the meantime.
We're all humans. (For God's sake.) It would behoove us to remember that a lot more often than we do.
Exit soapbox. Maybe actual writing next time.