Maura Kelly wrote a blog post, Should “Fatties” Get a Room? (Even on TV?) at Marie Claire. The post has set off a firestorm of complaints calling Maura Kelly’s views offensive.
Is Maura Kelly’s “Fatties” blog post just as offensive as remarks against minorities or gays?
Maura Kelly wrote a blog post for Marie Claire that asked the question, “What do you guys think? Fat people making out on TV – are you cool with it? Do you think I’m being an insensitive jerk?”
The blog post focused on the show Mike & Molly. It is a show that centers around a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group. Kelly wrote that the show has “drawn complaints for its abundance of fat jokes,” and “cries from some viewers who aren’t comfortable watching intimacy between two plus-sized actors.”
According to Kelly, it was her editor who asked her, “Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?” Instead of asking readers the same question and approaching the blog post objectively, Kelly made the mistake of inserting her personal opinion. In an age when bullying is front and center, inserting your personal opinions can be a huge mistake.
But it wasn’t just the fact that Kelly revealed the way she feels about heavy people to Marie Claire readers, it was the way she did it. Most would agree that promoting unhealthy eating to people, whether the people are heavy or thin, should not be the goal. However, Maura Kelly’s “Fatties” blog post is nothing short of a train wreck. “So anyway, yes, 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.”
Once you get to that point, the old “some of my best friends” line never works.
“Now, don’t go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump,” says Maura. (One wonders if her friends are still her friends after this mess.)
“But … 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,” says Maura. Then, to add insult to injury, Maura Kelly in her “Fatties” blog post goes on to list healthy eating tips. These coming from a former anorexic who admits she still has issues. “To that point (and on a more personal level), a few commenters and one of my friends mentioned that my extreme reaction might have grown out of my own body issues, my history as an anorexic, and my life-long obsession with being thin. As I mentioned in the ongoing dialogue we’ve been carrying on in the comments section, I think that’s an accurate insight.”
Maura issued a lengthy apology, but the damage has been done.
What should happen to Maura Kelly?
As reported at The Washington Post, Marie Claire has received over 28,000 e-mails in response to the piece. In addition, a new Twitter hastag has formed #unfollowmarieclaire. If Maura Kelly’s editor prompted her to write the blog post, it would seem highly unfair to make Kelly the fall girl. However, this incident may cause many Marie Claire readers to hit the road, and money is always the bottom line.
Now Marie Claire has issued a counterpoint blog post to Maura Kelly’s “Fatties” blog post. Yes, Fat People Exist: A Vote in Favor of More Diverse Bodies on TV is written by Lesley Kinzel. “When we say that putting fat people on television will ‘glorify’ their bodies, what we really mean is that we are uncomfortable giving fat people any attention that is not overtly negative. Because fat people need to be told: don’t be fat. Being fat means you are not entitled to a normal life. Being fat means you are not entitled to love. Being fat means you are not entitled to humanity, much less dignity.”
There are four ways to handle an offensive blog post – ignore it, issue an apology, fire the author and issue an apology or in Marie Claire‘s way, post counterpoints. Says Kinzel, “Unfortunately, where Mike & Molly fails is in its insistence on making the size of its title characters the most important thing about them, the axis around which their entire lives revolve. Real-life fat people have jobs and friends and hobbies and relationships and families and some of us have whole days that go by where we don’t really think about being fat. Where are those characters?”
This is a statement that opens intellectual dialogue on a real problem.
Keep sending hate mail to Maura Kelly for her “Fatties” blog post? It’s understandable. But when you’re done typing, you might want to read Marie Claire‘s counterpoint blog posts, beginning with Lesley Kinzel’s, that take an honest, calm approach to a real issue in this society. The thin people and the fat people should probably learn to talk to each other, and more importantly, listen to each other if we hope to actually learn anything.
Maura Kelly, Should “Fatties” Get a Room? (Even on TV?), Marie Claire
Melissa Bell, Mike and Molly and Marie Claire: Do we need to ban the word ‘fat’?, The Washington Post
Lesley Kinzel, Yes, Fat People Exist: A Vote in Favor of More Diverse Bodies on TV , Lesley Kinzel