Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Weight Debate and Marie Claire

Just a quick post to weigh in on the current Marie Claire scandal (if you haven't read the article go here) that is raging across the Internet.

I am all for free speech, for Christ sake I am one of the most opinionated people on the planet, but there is such a thing as tact and Maura Kelly does not have it. By all means write an article about the prevalence of obesity in western society and definitely tie it into the new show about overweight people that is currently the number 1 new comedy in America, because that makes it topical and relevant to right now. And by all means try and write it in a light-hearted, frothy way if that is the only writing you can manage, heck aim for a little comedy, anything to connect with your readers.

But do not title your blog "should fatties get a room?" and don't connect it to a TV show you've never actually watched and do not fill it with pretentious and demeaning statements like "now, don't go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk" or "But ... I think 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" or "I admit that there's plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT!"

No one can deny that obesity is a problem and that it is connected to a variety of diseases and what not but a list of 'helpful tips' about eating healthy and walking more does not help. Better diet and exercise is common knowledge, everyone knows that is key to a healthier life and yes, for some being overweight is probably 100% a response to laziness. But just like anorexics can't simply start eating again, there are psychological implications to obesity. I think this is one of the worst aspects of the article, not just because Maura is so insensitive regarding the topic, but that she reduces it to sheer laziness, she removes any psychological implications and does an entire group of people an injustice by suggesting that unlike anorexic people who truly suffer, they are wasting taxpayers money because of their selfish desire to eat.

This incident has made me sad, that Maura was able to publish this not on a personal blog but on a (previously) reputable magazine's website leaves me questioning fashion journalism, an industry I've always been interested in. I know that there are dippy, frothy people out there and they always seem to be the ones who speak the loudest, but the fact that this was allowed to be published after a fellow editor read it just goes to show that there indeed is a sickness in the fashion industry and the members of that community don't seem too interested in curing.

Finally I want to mention the responders to Maura Kelly's article. 1578 comments have been left and apparently around 28000 emails have been sent to Marie Claire and while many are eloquent and appropriate there are a large sum which are horrible. Yes I'm upset over this article, and if I was overweight I'm sure there'd be a whole new level of hurt, but it doesn't help to leave comments saying that Maura is a "C@nt" and that you "wish she'd died from her anorexia." Ultimately this article stripped a group of people of their dignity and comments of that nature are equally horrendous, taking her condition and using it as an insult is just as bad as her criticising people without intending to. By all means speak your piece, but do so in a calm and respectable manner, they are the comments that will impact the most, over-emotional, hate filled comments will be skipped over quickly.

If you want to express your thoughts...
Twitter: Speak your mind in 140 characters or less using the hashtag #unfollowmarieclaire
Facebook: Join the group Boycott Marie Claire magazine - say NO to fat phobia and discrimination!

Keep an eye out for Marie Claire's counterpoint articles on the topic--
Question...Is creating a discussion good enough or should they be removing Maura's blog and firing her? *note* People have been fired for less but personally I don't think that is the right way to go.


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