Marie Claire: the Fat-Hate Fiasco and Fireback Roundup, with comments from Di

Note: You may want to bookmark this post if you’re following this story, as I intend to add to it as I go. If you have a blog post about it not linked here, let me know in comments. If it’s a fit, I’ll add it in here.

Also, there will be a Big Fat Kiss-In at Marie Claire’s offices as a protest on Friday, October 29 from 6-6:30 EST.

For those of you tiring of this topic, I assure you, it will likely pass soon. There’s other plus-size news hovering on the horizon, some of it good, some of it bad. But for now, I think that the massive attention to Marie Claire comes from two newly unified camps:
1)Those disappointed with the massive downslide in the quality of Marie Claire’s content over the past five years (Big Girl in a Skinny World is disappointing at best and is often written from a place of pleasing advertisers)
2)Those who need to get it through to mainstream American fashion magazines Jon Stewart’s message to Crossfire: “You’re hurting America.” Actually, given the massive degree of cross-circulation of international fashion magazine editions, I daresay Marie Claire, Hearst Publications and Conde’ Naste are hurting the western world. Yes, I know, we’re all privileged and stuff, but if you’re reading this, you’re privileged enough to get somewhere near a computer so bite me.

So you can follow this as much as you can – on the Marie Claire end, first came the inflammatory post “Should Fatties get a Room?” from one Maura Kelly, followed by a postscript wherein Kelly explains that she “used to” suffer from anorexia. If the article – and the postscript – indicate anything about her real emotional/mental condition, she still needs some help. That she’s still so teenage as to believe that other human beings on television or elsewhere are in any way put on this earth for her aesthetic pleasure tells me that a)she’s been in fashion too long or b)something has seriously stunted her growth into a mature adult. Editor-in-chief Joanna Coles went so far as to defend/back up Maura Kelly, and is now categorized by Fat Chic as indefensible and inexcusable. I realize anorexics are universally messed up people. Some but not all fat people are messed up; the fat may or may not indicate an internal emotional condition. In my case, to some extent, it does – I really do have an eating disorder. I have anecdotal reason to believe not all fat people are fat because of disordered eating, laziness or moral failure of any kind. They are running a counterpoint series as a response, and while I’m curious to see where it goes, it only tells me that the magazine is being savvy about the attention – not that Kelly or her editors are in any way learning a damn thing.

Even so, if Kelly did any research at all to contest her own insecurities and revulsion as a good, questioning journalist should, she would have discovered that conventional wisdom about why fat people are fat isn’t as applicable as she thinks. C’mon, if Forbes was willing to look at the “obesity crisis” more closely, and that’s where baby millionaires cut their teeth, you’d think Kelly would have the sense to at least try to keep up. Not only are fat people indeed not sucking up the healthcare – since at this time there is very little in the way of public options for fat people to soak up – those of us who are bigger because of diet decisions already know the basics of calorie intake and outgo, and “failure” to conform is none of Kelly’s damn business.

As I bluntly put it before, “It’s not my job to look like someone you want to f ___.” This is not about fetishism, and Mike and Molly does not implicitly demand that fat people be found attractive. It asks you simply to understand the experience of the characters, and hopefully like them. I love Melissa McCarthy, I thought she was fantastic on Gilmore Girls and in other programs I’ve seen her in. I think this show is far beneath her talent, and the writing is terrible, but I’m happy enough to see her work that I do sometimes force myself to watch. (My husband actually does follow the show.) If you’re grossed out by fat people kissing, don’t look – and check your driver’s license and make sure you’re actually legal for that martini of BS you’re drinking.

You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to – and attraction on a biological level does not give a hoot what someone at Marie Claire or any other magazine finds “aesthetically pleasing.” Some people find me attractive. Others don’t. This may sound strange from a clothes and fashion blogger, but a person’s attractiveness has little or no relevance to what I do. Judging from the powerful reaction in the blogosphere/fatosphere, even those who do subscribe to the “standard” thoughts of western attractiveness have started to seriously rethink it. There’s so much assumed by the obsessively thin about the fat, and so much fear and stupidity behind those assumptions that I’ve felt forced to dedicate my life to screwing with the perceptions of the rigidly presumptuous. I know these are being kicked around elsewhere, but here are some further assumptions that my very existence screws with – especially in the minds of people like Maura Kelly.
1. People who are not fat find me attractive, even pretty.
2. Not all people are attracted to me. I do not expect or want all people to find me attractive. (This, coming from a woman who is also a clotheshorse can be mind-blowing.)
3. Indeed, I do not need to be beautiful to be loved.
4. I do not allow myself to be fetishized. The partners who were/are attracted to me almost all enjoyed equal attraction to traditionally “thin” women (and occasionally men.)
5. I’m in a monogamous marriage now, but when I was dating I had choice and used judgment based on character, attraction, etc. I have never, ever had to settle for someone because I felt limited in what was available to me because of my body size.

This is where I stand on the “issue” of fat attractiveness (fattractiveness? Nah.)
Other bloggers have been just as vocal, as have the creators of the show, about the way this whole thing has been handled by a once-venerable magazine. Judging from the writeup in Ad Age, this slip in judgment may be costing Marie Claire in reputation far more than expected.

Reporting and commenting on this whole mess:
Dangerously Luxe
“How many times does it have to be said that fat people deserve the same respect enjoyed by smaller people? How many times does it have to be pointed out that diets don’t work, fat people usually can’t be turned into thin people, and that fat people are not inherently unhealthy?”

Marie Claire on Fat Sexuality: Ew, Gross

Huffington Post:
Marie Claire Stands by ‘Should Fatties Get a Room’ Blog Post
Open letter by Josh Shahryar, Human Rights Activist.
Marie Claire says TV show about “Fatties” is Socially Irresponsible
Are Marie Claire and CBS Wagging the Dog?

Jezebel, feminist/women’s issue/entertainment blog, has really dug into the issue:
Marie Claire Responds to “Fatties” Controversy
What was Marie Claire Thinking with This Fatties Piece?
Marie Claire Responds to ‘Fatties’ Controversy
Marie Clair’s “Fatties” Counterpoint: Yes Fat People Exist
If you’re Fat-Phobic, You’re also an Ignorant, Bigoted Idiot
Marie Claire “Fatties” Piece Give Birth to Brilliance
Here’s a Question: Who the Hell is the “Fatties” Editor?

Links to the clip that had Kelly all upset

Manolo for the Big Girl
Plumcake has some words for these people

Even the hard-to-explain site Metafilter caught sight of this. Trust me, once you’ve got Metafilter’s attention, good or bad, you’re in it and deep.

Your weight is a tiny part of who you are and what you can accomplish, but in our image-obsessed culture, it oftentimes seems like your pant size directly affects how much other people think you deserve.

Women Crams Remarkable Amount of Idiocy into Single Blog Post

Daily Venus Diva
Maura Kelly’s Blog Content on ‘Fat’ People – How Could You Approve of this?
Marie Claire Editors are at Fault for Posting this Offensive Article

Red No. 3
It’s OK not to be Attracted to Fat
“It” not being gotten

From the ever-amazing theRotund blog:
Exercising My Middle Finger; a Brief Response to Maura Kelly of Marie Claire

At Fatshionista (Lesley Kinzel was invited to do a counterpoint blog for them)
Who wants to see happy fat people in love? Not Marie Claire!

From Big Fat Deal: (a personal favorite fat activism blog )
Marie Claire Thinks Fat People are Gross

From Feministe:
If Maura Kelly doesn’t like seeing fat people, perhaps she should get a room and not leave it

From Sadie Magazine:
Fuck You Maura Kelly and Fat Shamers Around the World

From Jennsylvania:
I’ve got your counterpoint right here, Marie Claire

From the Polymath Chronicles:
Marie Claire, you are dead to me

From Bitch Magazine (arguably my generation’s Ms.)
Fatphobia Alert: Fatties Should not be allowed to kiss, apparently!

From Fierce Fatties:
Economic Sanctions
“We need you to contact Dove and tell them what you think of their new campaign. Tell them we are boycotting Marie Claire and any advertisers who continue to support them until Joanna Coles issues a formal apology and commits to promoting positive body images REGARDLESS of weight.”

From the F-Word blog:
Marie Claire article…

From BlackCatPlus:
Overweight Couples on TV: Marie Claire say to Diet and Exercise

From the Rotund: (Guest post for the Guardian)
Comment is Free; I respond to the Marie Claire Debacle

From Fat Grrl:
I didn’t read Marie Claire before this, and I certainly won’t now

From the Fat and Skinny on Fashion:
Maura Kelly update

Oh, and Maura honey? Calling me fat doesn’t hurt my feelings at all.

5 thoughts on “Marie Claire: the Fat-Hate Fiasco and Fireback Roundup, with comments from Di”

  1. Thank you for all your work here. And you know, even if a person is overweight with an eating disorder rather than hormones (and hey, they can come as a 2-fer), what of it? Ms. Kelly would have been up in arms had someone suggested that at her anorexic worst she was repulsive to look at and unhealthy to even view?

    And you stated it best: Since when is it my job to hide myself because I don’t look like someone you’d screw? I’m 40. That part of my life is done with, thank goodness!

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