November 14, 2010

Weighing In

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably familiar with the hotly criticized article, "Should Fatties Get a Room", by Marie Claire columnist, Maura Kelly.  In case you have been living under a rock, the gist of the article is that it's "gross" to watch overweight people on television, as on the new CBS sitcom, Mike and Molly.  In fact, Ms. Kelly makes no qualms about letting her readers know that it is also aesthetically displeasing to see these people walk across a room in real life as well.   

Like many readers, I was appalled by her words.  Certainly, it's no secret that we live in a society that values skinniness.  We are bombarded by these messages all day, every day.  But I was shocked that someone had the audacity to say these words aloud.  Because, I guess, if you're willing to say something aloud (especially from such a large platform), you probably think that most people will agree with you.

And then it got me questioning: is she right?  Do most people think that fat people should be hidden away as to not offend the eyes of the beloved thin people?  Certainly, people were outraged by her words and quick to comment that people of all shapes and sizes deserve respect.  But... which group is among the majority, I wondered?   

I thought about the covert messages overweight people receive each day: You cannot shop for clothes in the same stores as thin people because they don't want to think about wearing the same clothes as you.  If, however, our company does happen to carry a few items in your size, you will have to order them online, without ever trying them on... and pay for shipping. 

And the clothes that come in your size will in no way resemble the current styles that the privileged thin people can wear.  Instead, you must cover up with shapeless, colorless garments meant to disguise your body... because no one wants to see any of that.  And because clearly, no one over a size 14 has anything worth accentuating.  There's no such thing as a good shape when you have that much of it, right?!

Even the fitness industry plays a part here.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find good workout clothes that come in anything bigger than a size large?!  It's hard enough to go to a gym (aka: meat market) and have to workout alongside all the Barbies, but to have to do it in an over sized t-shirt because that's the only thing that comes in your size... ugh!  And you'd think that the industry would know better... hello?  These are the people who need your clothes the most!  Give them a little bit of confidence when they walk into their fitness classes - give them something cute (and supportive) to sweat in! 

So, can I blame Ms. Kelly for offending overweight people everywhere?  Not solely.  While I believe her words were definitely hurtful, I also believe that this is what we should expect from someone who writes for a fashion magazine. 

To quote one of my favorite blogs:  "I feel like we have come to a point where being thin is so so linked to our notions of beauty and success that we no longer even notice that it’s a problem. We are just outraged when someone says it out loud, because it is this unspoken rule that we all “get” but never speak."

1 comment:

  1. I read this and alot of the uproar when it came out. It's sick and horrible that anyone would have thought it would be ok to publish something like that. I am still in shock. It is going to take Marie Claire a lot to recover!!