Women Too Stupid To Stay Thin Are Not Smart Enough For Supreme Court


Oh, how I wish I was kidding. But as law professor Paul Campos points out at The Daily Beast, this is an actual line of thought among some people who call themselves liberals.

Within hours after the news broke that Souter was resigning, concerns arose that Kagan and Sotomayor might be too fat to replace him. A commentator on the site DemConWatch.com noted that of the three most-mentioned candidates “the oldest (federal judge Diane Wood) is the only one who looks healthy,” while Kagan and Sotomayor “are quite overweight. That’s a risk factor that they may not last too long on the court because of their health.”

Solicitor General Elena Kagan, if you’re not aware, is the porker on the left, and federal appellate judge Sonia Sotomayor is the fattie on the right. God, it’s like looking at death personified, right?

But it’s not just the one time, either. Campos goes on.

At The Washington Monthly, a commentator claimed to have employed a more scientifically rigorous method: “To all the short-sighted libs who are clamoring for the youngest-possible nominee… Right idea, wrong methodology. You want someone who will serve the longest, i.e. with the greatest remaining life expectancy-and that involves more than simple age. I tried assessing their respective health prospects, and ruled out all who even border on overweight. Best choice: Kim McLane Wardlaw, whose ectomorphitude reflects her publicly known aerobic-exercise habits.”

Right, because skinny people live forever and “bordering” on “overweight” means an early death.

Oh, and in case you’re not curling your lip in disgust yet, there’s also this.

Meanwhile, a letter writer at Salon comments on Sotomayor’s candidacy, “How do you say 55, overweight, and diabetic in Spanish?” (Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type I diabetes-which doesn’t correlate with higher weight-when she was a child).

Should we get rid of Ginsburg, too, for being sick with cancer? Or should people with long-term, treatable illnesses be disqualified for public office? Or just vaguely not-skinny women.

Campos, bless his actual liberal heart, isn’t shy about calling this what it is: sexism.

Three of these assumptions-that a woman’s appearance is far more important than a man’s, that extreme thinness in women is especially desirable, and that weighing slightly more than average is a major health risk-have become interrelated in subtle and invidious ways.
In the cases of Kagan and Sotomayor, the absurd idea that their weight represents the sort of health risk that ought to be taken into account when considering whether to appoint them to the Supreme Court illustrates both how hysteria about being “overweight” has gotten out of control, and how such concerns often camouflage less-respectable impulses.

In other words — as many, many people have said before — pointing out the supposed health risk of supposedly being overweight is the socially acceptable way to be sexist and snark on a woman’s weight. Is anyone talking about Scalia’s potbelly? Clarence Thomas’s? No? Didn’t think so.

Campos also has yet another point about what might be blindingly obvious to people looking at Kagan and Sotomayor without pro-ana-colored glasses.

Based on photographic evidence, Kagan’s and Sotomayor’s current weights almost certainly do not even correlate with any increased mortality risk, let alone one that ought to be considered in the nomination process (for average-height women, no increased mortality risk correlating with weight begins to appear until weights above 200 pounds).

In other words, they’re not even fat.

Campos argues that this kind of body snaking by (in many cases) men is just another way to take women down a peg by reducing them to their sexuality.

For some men, the only thing more intolerable than the sight of a powerful woman is the sight of a powerful woman they don’t want to sleep with.

And there’s hardly anything more illiberal than that.

Fat Judges Need Not Apply [Daily Beast]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin