Marie Claire's "Fatties" Counterpoint: "Yes, Fat People Exist"


The Marie Claire mishigas continues. Now, the mag is running a “counterpoint” series to Maura Kelly’s initial “provocative” article. The first one’s title? “Yes, Fat People Exist: A Vote in Favor of More Diverse Bodies on TV.”

The writer, Lesley Kinzel, is a well-known voice who blogs over at the estimable And she deftly dismantles some of the primary fallacies of Kelly’s initial “opinion piece.”

Now, Mike & Molly is not a great TV show. In fact I would call it a terrible TV show, but I have this annoying habit of expecting sitcoms to be funny. That said, Mike & Molly is important because it is currently the only series on television featuring characters and actors who look like me, and like people I know and love. Oh, but this is not a matter of “glorifying” obesity. Glorifying obesity would take multiple TV shows depicting fat folks riding unicorns and devouring warm pies whilst counting the bags of money they’ve gained from being fat. Indeed, if simply putting fat people on television was enough to “glorify” obesity, then The Biggest Loser should have done the trick years ago. It hasn’t, because The Biggest Loser is a show built on the humiliation and punishment (self-inflicted or otherwise) of fat people. When we say that putting fat people on television will “glorify” their bodies, what we really mean is that we are uncomfortable giving fat people any attention that is not overtly negative. Because fat people need to be told: don’t be fat. Being fat means you are not entitled to a normal life. Being fat means you are not entitled to love. Being fat means you are not entitled to humanity, much less dignity.

She adds,

Arguing that fat characters should not be seen on television is making the statement that fat people do not have a right to be seen — or even to exist — in media or in life. It suggests that fat people should hide themselves away in shame and not burden the public with having to look at them; by extension, it suggests that fat people are less valuable individuals than thin people
. This idea harms everyone: it makes fat people feel terrible about themselves, and it makes thin people terrified of becoming one of those disgusting fatties. Everyone’s humanity is lost in the equation.

This is good writing and a great counterpoint: it’s too bad it took the initial piece to prompt it. Now, I think we can all agree that whatever the reason, seeing a range of well-argued viewpoints (as opposed to the initial fiasco) is a Good Thing. If it will serve the nullifying purpose Marie Claire hopes is another question; whether you want to give the mag props for learning from mistakes, or simply condemn them for covering their asses, is up to you. But one thing’s for sure: if we’re going to criticize the editors for using their platform to promote something ugly, we have to be glad that the same platform will now expose a ton of readers to Kinzel’s piece. Was Kelly’s apology half-assed? Yup. (And her finding the response volume “exciting” was just weird.) Was the magazine’s response tepid? Indeed. But in any case, based on the quality of this I’m looking forward to seeing what follows.

Yes, Fat People Exist: A Vote in Favor Of More Diverse Bodies On TV [Marie-Claire]


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