Saturday, October 30, 2010

Maura Kelly: Your Prejudice is MUCH BIGGER than My Body

A few words on Marie Claire/Maura Kelly-Gate:

In February 2010, I was invited by Joanna Coles and her team for a focus group, informal type of consulting regarding the plus-size world. As we went around the table introducing ourselves; I was the first person to say thank you for having a major publication embrace plus-size beauty at that level. I also made it clear that I did not like the title of Ashley Falcon’s column, “Big Girl in a Skinny World.” As true as it all might be; the mere title continues the divisive attitude in fashion, about beauty, and in the world. We are walking, ok-it seems shuffling at times—toward size neutrality and-as one would hope—inclusiveness. A title separating people, particularly women, and by size demands separation rather than unification. Where is the old attitude of ‘we are all in this together?”What would have been wrong with calling the column “Big Girl Style?” I continue not to understand why, if you take the chance, and gain another demographic—with a loyal following and money to burn….would you kick us in the teeth like this? Are you to tell me that an editor at Marie Claire read Maura’s post and said, “OK, publish it.” No one had a freaking brain in their body (not matter what its size!) to say “Gee, honey, you might wanna re-think this, or at least read it aloud.” Meanwhile, Joanna, you have disappointed me.

That meeting ended with ‘we should all eat the cupcakes everyone was staring at on the table. I thought to myself, “Are they buying off fatties with cupcakes?” But, cupcakes in New York City being what they are: popular and a staple treat among the popular. I did not find deeper political meaning behind it; I simply saw it as hospitality.

What –sort of—cracked me up about Marie Claire/Maura Kelly-Gate was how ill informed Maura’s post was. I was saying to myself… has this girl ever actually READ the internet? No worries, love, you did not set us back on our journey toward size equality. In fact, thanks for uniting New York, Philly, and San Francisco and the web with your words. See how powerful they were. They united rather than divided.

What FREAKING purpose did her post have? It seemed to be HER well-formed, well-prejudiced opinion about hating fat people: walking across a room, on the street, and on-gasp!-TV. She DID NOT See the show—so the post was not a critique of the show really. It was a critique that fat people should not, and should not be allowed to be affectionate on TV. Ok, so why not use your own blog to write those explosive comments? Why get paid for such garbage. If that was anti-Obama speech, racial epithets, and/or the like—we would be on CNN talking about this. O, but it is just fat people. They should get a room, right? Hate speech is hate speech, yo! Why was this allowed in a professional setting?

The photo that was included of Mike and Molly did not show any fat rolls. Of course, despite being TV stars—they are ‘fat.’ So the costume powers that be will certainly cover them up at all costs. Do NOT expect to see any skin except from neck up, wrist down, or below ankle. I would not be surprised if the characters have on gloves, scarves, and socks at all times! But, dude, really? There were no fat rolls in that picture of the characters. Really, Maura, really? [Edit!-wait! I found a pic of Melissa McCarthy with forearms showing. A shirt to the elbow—how kind of you to let her show skin.]

The writing and the structure was, sorry to say, babyish. I am not a paid blogger, no one is putting money in my pocket….and I have put a nice chunk of cash into a project it is taking me longer than I had hoped to complete because I work a demanding job for a living. However, we are not drunks and heroine addicts. We are fat. And yes, Maura, to answer your question: I find you to be an insensitive jerk. But I am gonna love you anyway. And I am gonna forgive you anyway.

I am not asking to cut her any slack, but I am asking for us to be understanding. If, as reported, Maura Kelly is a recovering anorexic—despite her fat hatred—personal political— and professional—she comes across as a person who is still healing. And ‘still healing’ means ‘unhealed.’ I sincerely wish her well in her journey, a far different one from mine, from ours. But along your continued journey, Maura, I request you cease your hate speech, especially from the seat of a national publication site.

Even Natalie Zutter from Screen who felt that “Maura Kelly Has a Point” as a former (?) anorexic:

Kelly's mistake is in sounding too chipper and oblivious in parts: when defending her argument by saying that she has "plump" friends, and by offering
breezy weight-loss advice that seemed unaware that for obese people, losing weight is not as easy as a quick jog on the treadmill. But the fact that she was a self-confessed former anorexic was going to sabotage her position from the beginning, which is incredibly ironic--who better to understand body disorders than someone who has suffered?

I guess it is because of her suffering that one would think she would be a bit more open-minded, Natalie. I am sure Maura might have suffered ridicule due to her, what I assume might have been ‘extreme thinness’ at one time in her life. That is kind of why it is more puzzling to me.

Zutter feels there was a misunderstanding. Aww. She feels that the characters of Mike and Molly are not obese.

There's a misunderstanding here: while the characters of Mike and Molly are
overweight, they are not obese; so they weren't the appropriate subjects for an article about obesity.

Are you sure about that, Natalie? Um, did the character bios come with a BMI? If the actors are obese; it would be their doctors to make that call—and McCarthy and Gardell to reveal that information, should they so desire. And what if they are? Their size is not preventing them from doing their job. What bothers me most is the fact that why is it that fat love is usually depicted with a fat woman and a fat man. There are plenty of men who are not fat who love fat women, and vice versa. Onlythe latter has been over exposed and the former hardly ever touched. How about a fat woman character and her adoring, loving, thin husband? Were is that one, television land?

Zutter goes on to say that when Jezebel [a place for obesity glorification, according to Zutter] picked up the story, it seemed shocking that Kelly was called a bigot, in very simple terms; which, by her post, resembles a classic textbook, dictionary definition of the very word.

Zutter continues to state that a case cannot be solved on body type, even though she thinks the following:

...Then you find out that you can't solve a case based on body type. Kelly never suggested that you could. Kelly doesn't pretend to have any right to judge obese people's morals; she simply admits something that takes a lot of guts, that she doesn't jibe with the norm of blindly accepting a patently unhealthy lifestyle.

Natalie Zutter, dear, since when has fat been blindly accepted and by whom? Moreover, are all fat people unhealthy? Um, you and Maura should have a cup of tea and read the internet. We have answered that already.

Kelly’s post was not about obese people’s morals; it was about the size of our bodies and making the connection that because we are fat we are immoral.

Yet, Zutter seems to feel WE are the bullies, by protesting Kelly’s comments, we are defensively celebrating. Well, Ms. Zutter, you call it as how you see it; I call it a reaction to negative biased media. And the disgust and tiredness of having it hurled our way. We are calling you, and Ms. Kelly on HER words.

Yes, Kelly technically says that she would be "grossed out" by watching two
obese people kiss--but she doesn't linger on that statement the way that later
commenters have. It's a point of comparison to her real issue, a relevant one:
The disturbing examples of obesity in culture. Let me repeat that: I'm not
talking about overweight/fat people, I'm talking about those who are morbidly obese.

Regarding “disturbing examples of obesity in culture.” Right. Remind me where they are again? O, yes, fat people walking. Kissing. Living. Breathing air.


Here is what I have to say: I am disappointed in Marie Claire. Kelly’s post, and allowing it, shows the real and utter distaste of Kelly, but it also shows a real and uber distaste of fat people by Marie Claire by its editors and its authors—you allowed this to be published on your blog, which means you claim not only notification of its content, but therefore, agreement with it. At no time did you make a disclaimer.

As U.S. citizens we are allowed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And tha includes fat people being happy, and loving each other, themselves, family and friends. That includes showing affection. And occaionally with tongue. Behind closed doors. Outside. On the street. In movie theatres. In cars. Wherever.

I think Maura Kelly will have more healing to do. I am empathetic to her journey, and wish her love and light. Frankly, I think she needs it. I always come to the same place whether it is a drive-by comment on the street, a blatent remark on the subway, or the like: I end up feeling pity for that person, sympathy, sadness.

I truly feel that by negative name-calling and blogging with negative words toward the author makes us no different than a bully in a school yard. We are better than that. We have lived our lives being better than that. And we should continue to do so.

What Kelly needs is forgiveness. Through forgiveness we can keep moving forward. I didn’t say we shouldn’t call her out for her bigoted comments; I just feel we should forgive her for it. With such an action we can rise above the hate. After all, FAT GIRLS FLOAT.

Let’s look at them from a positive note. Her words brought us together as a community once again. And we got something positive out of it: kissing and affection, unity, press, an opportunity to reach out to the public and “fatty on the street,” and a reminder that we are strongest when we work together.

Yes, I believe in loving your neighbor. And I believe that your enemy is also your neighbor.

Maura Kelly, your prejudice is much bigger than my body. But I am using my big-assed body to forgive you. Know why? It contains my big-ass heart.
I see this as simple as Hate vs. Love. I choose LOVE.

New York City Big Fat Kiss-In participant, mouthing off from her kisser!


  1. I have to admit I'm not as forgiving as you. But I think what is important is the words and the cultural production NOT the person. As you have aptly pointed out this was a business that produced this and that business should be held accountable. I'm not a consumer of fashion or fashion magazines in any meaningful way so my boycott would be at once painless and ineffective.

    I am happy to see media attention drawn to this because it usually ignores our plight. I am equally happy to see fat communities responding as a community.

  2. i keep coming back to the fact she was anorexic. how sad for her she never recovered...and she is so scared to death of becoming the (hated) OMG FAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

  3. Rock on! So glad so many turned out for the NYC kiss in...wish I could have participated. It's becoming a bit difficult to stay mad/offended when so much positivity has resulted from it. I love that fats are becoming more visible! <3

  4. I don't think anorexia is an excuse at all. Anorexics are more likely to be way more obsessed with their own bodies than with those of others.
    NatZ is being clueless and disingenuous here. First, we're not talking healthy/unhealthy lifestyles. We're talking about fat. Second, morbid obesity ain't what it used to be. Like all other weight categories, it has been downsized to mean a BMI of 40+. Obesity begins at BMI 30, and overweight at BMI 25. With ridiculously low BMI cutoffs for these categories, it's no wonder that around 2/3 of the population is considered "overweight" or "obese".
    It's not distance that kept me from attending the Kiss-In; it was a prior appointment. I hope there will be more opportunities for people to meet and plan and protest.

  5. You go, girl! Lemmee propose to you an opportunity which is completely beyond anything this world has to offer. Not here, not now, of course, but would you allow SEVEN things in Heaven just between us? Feeding you delicious baklava and God‘s ice cream? Giving you a looong, sensuous backrub? Brushing your beautifull hair? Kissing your adorable feet which brot you to the Great Beyond? Holding your hands, staring into your eyes, and being one with you? I’d love that and I think you would, too. Think about that. Get back with me Upstairs, girly. God bless.