Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Not Just TV

Of all the magazines I get, Marie Claire is one of my favorites. Its glossy covers make it appear to be any other fashion magazine. Once you flip the pages, you see that it has so much more content. It has newsy-type stories on current events (great for learning about women's issues around the world). It has the celebrity profile. And it even has a curvy (full-figured, plus size - whatever you want to call her) fashion editor who offers advice for girls just like her.

All of that makes me wonder why this post about tubbies on TV has caused such outrage. The post asks if people are comfortable seeing overweight people making out on television. The issue, the CBS show Mike & Molly.
Writer Maura Kelly (a recovered anorexic) says no.
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 — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.
Well, when you put it that way, who's interested? Do Mike and Molly represent all of America? No. But they do represent a growing (no pun intended) portion of the country. I've never watched the show, so I don't know if the characters sit around eating potato chips and ice cream while complaining about their size. Note: I chose not to watch the show because the previews did not seem funny, not because of the size of the stars. But if they're real people dealing with the real issues everyone - no matter their size - face, what's the harm? I think it's hard not to address their size. I would think the writers and the actors recognize that in a responsible way.

Mike and Molly could be funny. They could be fictional soul mates who inspire others in their body shapes to find love. What Maura Kelly has written (and I encourage you to read her entire post - including her response to the criticism) does seem harsh and judgy. Don't write off her comments as some criticism of a TV show. What she has written is criticism of real life. If you don't look like Maura or act like Maura, she's put off by you.

What if we were in a different time period and she said the same thing about a biracial couple? Would that be OK? As a journalist, I have great faith in the First Amendment. I wouldn't have started this blog if I didn't want to share my opinions with the world (BTW, I am totally amazed by the people who find this blog on other continents). I just can't get past her comments, even after reading this update to her post:

I would like to reiterate that I think it's great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese. (Morbid obesity is defined as 100 percent more than their ideal weight.)  And for whatever it's worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.

I am certain she would not like it if someone said they couldn't stand the idea of watching her skinny self make out with a guy in skinny jeans. Not that I'm judging.

I am not planning to boycott Marie Claire because of this writer's comments. I don't think I'll give much weight (again, no pun intended) to her future articles. Maura Kelly should stick to writing dating tips. The only appropriate mention of size should be about, well, you know. Otherwise, I'll give her words the same treatment as I have given that TV show.  
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