Maura Kelly missed it by MILES. Not only in her article denigrating overweight people and whether or not a television show should be showing displays of affection between them, but in her "apologetic" remarks that were edited into the post.
Ms. Kelly believes that anyone who is overweight can change that problem simply by eating unprocessed, healthy foods and exercising.
Ms. Kelly said in her apology that she thinks its "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% more than their ideal weight.) "
While I concur that for many people who struggle with weight that much of the issue can be addressed by addressing issues of diet and exercise, for many other people the issue is far more complex than calories in vs. calories out. It is.
When we focus only on the mechanics of obesity - diet and exercise - we miss the mark by miles. No one becomes morbidly obese by accident. Nobody just 'forgets' to eat right. Its just not that simple.
Unless we address important underlying issues, we won't get anywhere. Until healthy food is more readily available and affordable than high-calorie, high-fat, high sugar crap, we won't get anywhere. When its cheaper to buy a Big Mac than it is to buy a healthy meal, we won't win this battle. When people in economically depressed areas don't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, when the food that they can buy in the highest quantities are the foods with the lowest nutritional value, we won't succeed. Until we address the issues of self hatred or PTSD that haunt many people with eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, we won't get anywhere. Until we stop bombarding our young people with the idea that unless they are physically perfect they're worthless, we won't get anywhere.
And most importantly, every time we send people who aren't thin the message that their weight is more important than who they are as a person, we won't win this battle. Stop overlooking fat people. Not only do they have feelings too (which honest to GOD should go without saying), they are more than likely FAR more sensitive to comments about their appearance than YOU are.
Don't tell me that an actor who happens to be overweight is less deserving of being in a sitcom than an actor who is thin. Dont' tell me that a brilliant, funny, beautiful heavy person isn't a better actor and more worth my admiration than some skinny, pretty trainwreck like Lindsey Lohan.
What I want for the people I love is for them to be happy where they are, with who they are. If they're not happy in the skin they're in, I support anything they need to do to get to that point. But its not my job to tell them how they should look, how they should feel, what they should eat, how they should exercise. I choose my friends by far more complex criteria than their physical appearance.
Fact is, if you look at a person who is overweight and ALL you see is their weight? You feel superior because you're thin and they're fat? You think you're a better person? You're more screwed up than they are. Period. Shut the hell up and go look in the mirror. Point your judgmental finger at yourself and solve your OWN problems. Look in your soul and find a little compassion. Stop making assumptions about how that person got to be where they are in life. Accept that the world isn't going to conform to your demands and expectations, and open your mind to the thought that people who don't look like you have every bit as much value, are every bit as smart, creative, funny, capable and wonderful as anyone else.
Maura Kelly, you missed the boat, sweetheart. Its not as simple as food, and its not as shallow as representation. Its about throwing aside the assumptions of your own experience, seeking the humanity that exists in each and every one of us and honoring that FIRST. Its about opening your mind to the idea that beauty wears many faces and they don't all look like YOU.
***thanks to Adrienne and her amazingly well-written blog post for bringing this subject to my attention and my soapbox to my feet.