Too fat or too mean

Are Mike and Molly "too fat"  for love?Recently Maire Claire blogger Maura Kelly took some heat over an item she wrote about a new TV show called Mike and Molly. This groundbreaking show is a romantic comedy about two overweight people who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. Kelly, who was asked to write about the show by her editor, said it would make her uncomfortable to watch the show. She put it this way: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 heroin addict slumping in a chair.”

A recovering anorexic, Kelly later apologized for her remarks. She claims she does not want to be a bully. She attributed her sensitivity to weight issues to her own eating disorders. Her editor made similar remarks to explain her mean comments. I find her explanations and those of her editor disingenuous.
 
I think she and her editor accomplished exactly what they wanted. They attracted national attention to Marie Claire for a day or two. Editor Joanna Coles called Kelly “a provocative blogger”. As a veteran of women’s magazines, I am sure she knows the difference between provocative and just plain mean.
 
Kelly went on in her screed to say that obese people are responsible for, and can control, their condition. She — a self-admitted anorexic – offered them diet tips.
 
Her blog was not an honest attempt to examine a timely issue. She wasn’t saying “hey, this makes me uncomfortable and why does it?” She didn’t seek to examine the issue behind the widespread problem of prejudice based on size. Kelly was out to shock and provoke. She did so. And then when people called her on her meanness and bitchiness – she ran for cover – ironically under her own weight problem. It’s funny that she is upset by people who are too fat, but not about people — like herself – who might be too mean.
 
Darlings, I fear we are living in mean times. Too many adults these days behave with the meanness of schoolchildren who have not been taught any better. The social media and tough economy has facilitated it. And we have to stop it.
 
There is not a week that goes that I don’t hear about some petty meanness involving unsolicited comments made about appearance or relationships. There are also endless tales of acts of nastiest – big and small — in the workplace. I remember a time in the not so distant past when decent people would be ashamed to behave so badly. Now it seems that if you are angry, or think something will give you an edge, you just go ahead and do it, and decency be damned.
 
All women know that weight is a sore subject. Weight has the power to wound. I have struggled with my weight for years — never really getting fat, but getting close. At five feet tall it became a battle to stay slim after the age of thirty. I have a close fried who also has to watch her weight. When she first gained it as a teen her own family brought her to tears with their mean remarks. When she lost it and looked like a film star – they could speak of nothing else. It was eye-opening to my young friend to discover what people truly value. It was also sad. Another friend tells me she is ignored when she is heavier. As a thin person she is hit on by lots men. She says she gets greater respect in every way when thinner – from better service to job opportunities. Is it any wonder women have such deep self-esteem and trust issues?
 
Over the years I have seen many women deeply affected by size. The sad part is it is often other women who are hurtful. I am sure Ms. Kelly was aware of this when she wrote her nasty little column. 
 
Being shocking is a quicker and easier road to your ‘Warhol 15 minutes of fame’ than being creative and talented. Ms. Kelly has just found that out. She has written many blog items in her column: A Year of Living Flirtatiously. I read a few of her items to understand what type of person would have written with such meanness. I was not surprised that most of her items are neither provocative nor flirtatious. Her column showed a woman desperately trying to be provocative and to get noticed.
 
I have noticed this same motivation in the women who make nasty cracks on Facebook or in the workplace. They want attention. They feel they are “slipping” in some way, or not getting the attention they want, so they take shot at others. Maura Kelly took at shot at a new and somewhat controversial show and a group that is vulnerable. She accomplished her goal of being noticed. She did it in a cheap and shoddy way. I only hope she won’t be rewarded for it.
 
I have decided the best way to deal with people who seek attention this way is to ignore them. I made the mistake of engaging one attention-seeker on Facebook who make a nasty crack about me. I regretted it and it was pointless. Like Ms. Kelly she quickly backed down and pleaded innocence. The next time it happened – I ignored it. But I was pleased when a mutual friend took her task for her name-calling.
 
Some women take a shot at others because they think it is safe to do so from their blog spot or Facebook page. They give bloggers a bad name and taint social networking. I think it is important for non-invested parties to censure their bad behavior in a civil manner. Writing to Marie Claire and objecting to the column, as many readers did, was a fabulous reaction. Subscription money speaks. Talk show host Sharon Osborne threatening Kelly was just more bad attention-seeking behaviour.
 
Darlings, let’s speak up loudly against this type of nastiness and try to put a stop to it. As we climb out of this economic morass, let’s demand a more civil workplace as opposed to meaningless political correctness. Maura Kelly was wrong and so was her editor in encouraging such mean spirited drivel. But we are all wrong when we don’t take on the meanness in everyday life.
 
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