Maura Kelly wrote an interesting article (and subsequent apology) over at Marie Claire on overweight couples displaying affection on television.
Kelly comments on the show Mike & Molly, which features characters who meet at an ‘overeater anonymous group,’ and follows their blossoming romance (Kelly is quick to point out that the couple is not simply overweight, but obese. I have no idea why she thinks this is relevant, but apparently it is). Kelly reports on an CNN article about how some viewers find the displays of affection between the two lead characters ‘uncomfortable’ because of their weight.
Kelly suggests that the show promotes obesity:
“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 I’d tell her she’s wrong. The show is about two people who are struggling with their weight, who meet at a support group to help them get their weight under control. How is that promoting obesity? The couple is actively trying to combat their weight – this is EXACTLY the message that should be promoted to overweight people. Simply existing as a fat person does not encourage others to be fat. I have no idea where she is pulling this idea from.
Then Kelly describes her feelings on the issue:
“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 [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”
Kelly’s response repulses me. She is basically dehumanizing fat people in suggesting that they shouldn’t be expressing affection (or at least not where it is visible to others, which I would argue is the same damn thing). If you have a problem with people being overweight, then fine. That’s your issue, not theirs. People have a MULTITUDE of health problems which are self-induced (or at least not fully combatted by the sufferer), but that doesn’t mean they lose their human status and become some sort of disgusting monster that can’t possibly kiss – or heave forbid – have sex with another person.
I have never understood the hatred towards fat people. Being fat is a health issue. It is not good. People who are fat should try to be healthy. I get that. But there are so, so, so many other unhealthy lifestyles that people willingly contribute, and no one seems to pass the hate on to those folks.
Paris Hilton gets arrested for coke possession, and we shrug it off. Charlie Sheen gets arrested after a drunken bender, and he will remain one of the highest paid actors in TV. The Jersey Shore cast spend a significant amount of time in their sunshine cancer boxes, and we laugh it off because they’re orange, instead of being appalled that they are willingly doing everything in their power to develop skin cancer. We continue to buy their albums, watch their movies and TV shows. No one refers to them as disgusting for willingly destroying their bodies. In fact, we glamourize their lifestyles! … But we hate fat people. And I just don’t get it. I do not understand why this type of lifestyle perpetrates hatred, bullying, and disgust, and why we as a society deem that okay. As previously discussed, shaming people does not change minds. Shame leads to eating disorders, crash diets, failed exercise regimens, depression and even suicide. Shame will take you about as far as it takes to get frustrated and give up on yourself, and will prevent some from ever trying again.
Kelly does go on to apologise. Sort of. She tries to justify herself by pointing out that the people are just overweight, not obese. Because obese people obviously aren’t actually people anymore, and therefore it is fine to talk about how repulsive it is for them to have sex. She also rambles on about how anorexics make her uncomfortable as well, but they are unhappy with their lives, so they deserve sympathy. Therefore one could surmise the real issue at hand is that obese people cannot appear to be happy in the public sphere. Read? Kelly’s foot is so far down her throat that she’s scrambling for some sort of logic to backup her stupid arguments. And she’s failing to find that logic.
Some people are fat. And you know what? Some are even really fat. They should be encouraged to find a means of getting healthy, but they should not be expected to hide from the public until they meet an acceptable aesthetic level of weight. They should not be discouraged from being in love, and openly displaying their love. And above all, they should not be subjected to anyone’s disgust or hatred. I have so much difficulty understand why people think projecting hatred onto others is acceptable in any situation, let alone because you disapprove of their unhealthy lifestyle.
You can watch an interview with the creator of the show here.