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Old 10-27-2010, 11:23 AM   #1
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Should 'Fatties' Get A Room? Even On TV?

^Not my words. I guess all the shows with overweight guys who make out with or are married to hot THIN women are still ok.

WSJ

An article published by Marie Claire that’s critical of overweight actors on television has drawn harsh criticism itself and an apology from its author. The piece, titled “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even on TV?)” by Maura Kelly, focuses on the CBS show “Mike & Molly,” about a couple who meet an Overeaters Anonymous group.

The sitcom has drawn criticism since it premiered earlier this year for its “toxic mulch” of crude humor and jokes aimed at the characters’ waistlines. But Kelly focused less on the show’s quality than whether she was made uncomfortable by the overweight actors. She wrote: “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.”

Kelly ends the article by asking, “What do you guys think? Fat people making out on TV — are you cool with it? Do you think I’m being an insensitive jerk?” So far, the article has drawn 933 comments, the overwhelming majority of them going with insensitive jerk. She has since issued an apology.

Overweight Couples on Television - Do Fat Characters on TV Offend Viewers - Marie Claire

The other day, my editor asked me, "Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?"

Because I can be kind of clueless — I'm not much of a TV person — I had no idea what she was talking about, so she steered me to this CNN article, about the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. As CNN explains, "the show centers around a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group [and] has drawn complaints for its abundance of fat jokes [as well as] cries from some viewers who aren't comfortable watching intimacy between two plus-sized actors."

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.

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. And I also know how tough it can be for truly heavy people to psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down. (For instance, the overweight maintenance guy at my gym has talked to me a little bit about how it seems worthless for him to even try working out, because he's been heavy for as long as he can remember.)

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.

(I'm happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it's cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you're getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there's plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me. It will take some time, but you'll also feel so good, physically and emotionally. A nutritionist or personal trainer will help — and if you can't afford one, visit your local YMCA for some advice.)

Then again, I guess these characters are in Overeaters Anonymous. So ... points for trying?

Then again, I tend to think most television shows are a kind of junk food for the mind and body. The boob tube gives us an excuse to turn off both our brains and our bodies and probably does a helluva lot to contribute to the obesity problem, over all. So ... I don't know.

What do you guys think? Fat people making out on TV — are you cool with it? Do you think I'm being an insensitive jerk?

UPDATE: 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.




I know a lot of people truly struggle to lose weight— for medical and psychological reasons—and that many people have an incredibly difficult time getting to a healthy size. I feel for those people and I'm truly sorry I added to the unhappiness and pain they feel with my post.




I would like to reiterate that I think it's 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.) 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, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.


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.


People have accused me of being a bully in my post; I never intended to be that--it's actually the very last thing I want to be, as a writer or a person. But I know that I came off that way, and I really cannot apologize enough to the people whom I upset.
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:29 AM   #2
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I can't believe anyone at Marie Claire thought that was a good idea to publish it. Maybe they wanted people talking about them, but in this case, the bad press will hopefully lead to nothing but people canceling their subscriptions.
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:34 AM   #3
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They don't allow overweight readers either

Yes I can definitely see how anorexia/life long obsession with being thin contributes to her, to put it way too kindly, perspective-but that's no excuse for putting all of that into print.

I don't like many things that I see in other people-but unfortunately we can't exist in a vacuum surrounded by only self selected people that we approve of. Behavior offends me far more than any looks ever could.

I'll buy her a pair of horse blinders
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:37 AM   #4
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I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk.

I'm not racist/a homophobe/a fat-shamer, you guys! I totally have black/gay/fat friends!
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:45 AM   #5
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It's likely Maura Kelly did not come up with the article title, which is indeed a bit harsh. Not enough idiot copy editors / editors get flack for dumb headlines.

One could discuss whether promoting unhealthy lifestyles on TV is appropriate from a national health standpoint, but from the looks of it the sitcom openly mocks these obese folks who star in it instead of glorifying them.
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:08 PM   #6
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One could discuss whether promoting unhealthy lifestyles on TV is appropriate from a national health standpoint,
Of course if you're a boozing, womanizing douchebag whose show glorifies those aspects of your life, you can be the highest paid actor on television where a lost evening ("The Hangover"-style) at the Plaza Hotel is perfect publicity rather than scandal.

Fat-phobic people who cloak their "ism" as concern for health or healthcare costs are incredibly shallow and rather transparent.
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:12 PM   #7
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No, it's okay if you're thin. Reality TV stars and Charlie Sheen are the epitome of healthy lifestyles!
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:20 PM   #8
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Of course if you're a boozing, womanizing douchebag whose show glorifies those aspects of your life, you can be the highest paid actor on television where a lost evening ("The Hangover"-style) at the Plaza Hotel is perfect publicity rather than scandal.


Especially when you're being a role model Dad on a kids weekend with your ex and your daughters. Nothing completes American Girl Place more than your Dad trashing his hotel room while possibly naked, while possibly with an "escort", possibly drunk or high.

Sure the headline is harsh, but it's not as if the article makes up for it in any redeeming way.

Can you imagine if anyone wrote such a thing about two minorities? But you can still print such a thing if you say it about overweight people. I know, it is Marie Claire, but still.
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:20 PM   #9
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Yeah, double-standards abound.

Then again you have to realize that the reality / celebrity joke is on the viewer. We like to laugh at other people being humiliated or dumb on television to make us feel better about our own depressing, menial lives as TV watchers.

I'm not sure if it emerged in the game show culture of the 1970s, but Reality TV these last two decades has really affirmed it.

Celebrity culture and reality TV is quite different than traditional escapism into TV land. Everyone likes to get lost in a good book or cop drama. We've developed a real mean streak as a media-consuming society quite recently, though, kind of hearkening back to the circus side shows of days gone by.
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:09 PM   #10
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I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk.

I'm not racist/a homophobe/a fat-shamer, you guys! I totally have black/gay/fat friends!
Exactly what crossed my mind when he read that sentence.

I get that this author has major body issues, and a history of eating disorders so her view on this is going to be extremely skewed, but who in the editorial offices thought this was a good article to publish?
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:28 PM   #11
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Like this is the worst thing that's on TV.....sheesh, if you don't like it, change the channel!
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:42 PM   #12
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They don't allow overweight readers either

Yes I can definitely see how anorexia/life long obsession with being thin contributes to her, to put it way too kindly, perspective-but that's no excuse for putting all of that into print.

I don't like many things that I see in other people-but unfortunately we can't exist in a vacuum surrounded by only self selected people that we approve of. Behavior offends me far more than any looks ever could.

I'll buy her a pair of horse blinders


I agree Mrs. Springsteen. And I would like to know what "her idea of a tv size" should be.

I am not knocking anyone are naturally thin. It is their genetics. Being healthy is the primary issue. Who's to say that healthy can't be beyond a size six. There are so many factors. Your Dr. is always your best advice.

I wear a size ten/twelve. I have always been athletic. Five foot five, medium frame. Dance, swimming, Martial Arts, walking, hiking has given me excellent muscle tone. For my age. I never eat "fast food." Too spicy. it makes me sick. I perfer organic salad greens and home cooked, unprocessed foods instead.

I am mature enough to not make fun of how others look. Each one of us is beautiful just they way we are.

I don't think it is gross for any couple who love each other to share a kiss.
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Old 10-28-2010, 03:19 AM   #13
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Exactly what crossed my mind when he read that sentence.
Same here. And ditto Liesje, too. We have all sorts of means to avoid watching what you don't like nowadays, so this "I don't want to see that!" argument holds even less water now than it ever did. I didn't much care to watch Bret Michaels making out with a bunch of sleazy bimbo girls when that stupid "Rock Of Love" was on TV, but no outcry over that show. If they're making out and getting intimate and whatnot, so what? She makes it sound like they're some alien species or something. They love and express displays of affection, just like every other person in the world does. Get over it and move on.

As for "promoting" unhealthy lifestyles, well, just as I argue that seeing thin people on TV isn't the sole factor for women turning to anorexia, I don't think seeing overweight people on TV will do the same for people who like to eat too much. Any health problems they may or may not have are their concern to deal with-it's nice to care and offer help, if you genuinely do (and that's debatable with this article), but ultimately they have to make the choice to change (and while most obesity can be controlled, some of it is genetic, too).

Very strange, dumb article.

Angela
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:22 AM   #14
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I wonder why it's okay to write an article slamming entertainment that glorifies overly thin girls, but not an article slamming entertainment that glorifies overly fat girls. Do you guys think you'd be downplaying the health concern angle if we were talking about an article on super thin runway models or magazine covergirls?
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Old 10-28-2010, 09:09 AM   #15
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I am not knocking anyone are naturally thin. It is their genetics.
But it's not always genetics or natural. Many women have to fight very hard against their genetics to stay slim and toned and be healthy. It's like saying "overweight people should just eat less and exercise". It's never that simple or that easy, either way you go. Many people that are thin and fit are not naturally that way.
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