Two women’s magazine’s recently issued profuse apologies for offending their readers, totally missing the point with their mea culpas.
Maura Kelly, a blogger for Marie Claire, wrote about the TV show “Mike and Molly,” which features a couple who met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Kelly didn’t like having to look at fat people; she doesn’t think they should be on television. She wrote:
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.
When she was flooded with emails she wrote:
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…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…
OK Kelly, first of all, you work for a site that glorifies extremely skinny women; I have a hard time believing anorexia makes you uncomfortable. But say it does, let me explain something: criticizing women for being too thin doesn’t mean it’s okay to criticize them for being too fat. In fact, it’s actually the exact same thing! The issue here is judging women’s bodies– and human character in general– based on appearances. You’re assuming there’s some perfect body type and you can tell if its been reached just by looking. Guess what? You can’t! A person may look like she’s at a ‘perfect’ weight but she could be bulimic, a smoker, a cocaine addict. Plenty of thin people are unhealthy and plenty of fat people exercise and are disease free. Your apology should not be about attacking fat people but for acting as if it’s perfectly okay to judge a book by it’s cover. Most kindergartners learn that’s an inaccurate way to look at life.
Next up: Valerie Latona, Editor-in-Chief of Shape Magazine who aplogized for putting LeeAnn Rimes on the cover. Her readers were upset about it and she was very sorry; she didn’t mean to glorify a “husband stealer.” Are you serious? Is this the year 2010? Men are not helpless creatures, objects capable of being stolen by wicked women. Affairs are symptoms, not causes. Marriages are complex and mysterious. No one just walks away from a happy one for anybody. Demonizing women for tempting men is an age old stereotype based on fear of female sexual power. I wish Latona had responded to her readers that labeling and shaming LeeAnn Rimes is reductive to women and men.
Wouldn’t it be great if the media aspired to recognize women and men for the complex and varied creatures they are instead of reducing them to two-dimensional cartoon characters?