Marie Claire blogger Maura Kelly has caused a stir online this week with her post "Should 'Fatties' Get a Room? (Even on TV?)" She writes about the CBS sitcom "Mike & Molly," a show about a couple who meets in Overeaters Anonymous. Kelly wrote:
The other day, my editor asked me, "Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?"
My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing -- those people are downright obese! And while I think our country's obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it's at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.
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. 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.
She added that she has "a few friends who could be called plump," but that she thinks, "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."
Fashionista called Kelly's post "an unabashedly mean spirited piece and we're kind of shocked that it's attached to such a reputable ladymag, one, no less, with a feature series called "Big Girl in a Skinny World" by 5'2″ 220 pound stylist Ashley Falcon." And Jezebel wrote, "how could she not know this would happen? How could she think this was acceptable? It's that, as much as anything else, that's worrisome: that at a mainstream magazine with a wide reach and an ostensibly progressive outlook could think, in 2010, this was okay to write and implicitly endorse."
But the plot thickens -- Kelly has issued an apology and revealed that she was previously anorexic, writing:
I would really like to apologize for the insensitive things I've said in this post. Believe it or not, I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this, and I sorely regret that it upset people so much. A lot of what I said was unnecessary; it wasn't productive, either.
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.
Marie Claire's editor-in-chief Joanna Coles spoke to Fashionista, who stood by the post:
"Maura Kelly is a very provocative blogger," Coles told us. "She was an anorexic herself and this is a subject she feels very strongly about."
Coles said the mag has received over 28,000 email responses to the piece, and that Kelly was "excited and moved by their responses."
While Coles made clear that she hasn't actually seen Mike & Molly, she added "I'm concerned about a show that makes fun of large people."
What do you think?