You might have seen the Marie Claire / Mike and Molly controversy from the last few days. If not, you can read the article here. Long story short, the article entitled "Should Fatties Get A Room (Even on TV)?", said some fairly brazen things about the overweight characters on the show... and overweight people in general. For my part, I wrote a ridiculously long post about how that made me feel and how - when I was thin - an associate at Lane Bryant was mean to me but, when I gained weight and went back, she was nice to me, and how people should choose their words more carefully
Then, in an effort to heed my own advice, I decided not to click "Publish" and to reformulate my thoughts as succinctly as possible. So, here goes...
I'm not a fan of "political correctness". I don't think people should take everything they see or hear personally. You're entitled to your opinion. I'm entitled to mine. The author of the magazine article is entitled to hers. Did it offend me? Yes. But when she sat down to write it, was she singling me out and thinking "I hope this ticks off that chubby girl in Arkansas with a blog that hardly anyone reads"? No. She said her piece. I disagreed with it and felt like it was a bit mean-spirited. That's that.
What I am a fan of asking "why". I expect parents of toddlers just let out a huge sigh. And it's true. I never got over that phase. I still insist on knowing the "why" behind just about everything. In this case, it's not that she said what she said that bothers me, it's wondering why.
Why would intimacy between two plus-sized characters make her more uncomfortable than intimacy between two thin characters? Frankly, I'm fine with keeping intimacy intimate and not really watching other people do it at all. Why would she think that anyone who was obese would graciously accept her weight-loss tips after she basically called them disgusting and said they make her sick? Why would a magazine ask a recovering anorexic to write an article about "fat people"? I don't know why... but here's what I do know...
There is a scene from The West Wing that I think about often. (Well, there are many scenes from The West Wing I think about often because it's an awesome, thought-provoking show.) Anyway, in this particular scene, Sam and Ainsley are arguing about gun control. Sam criticizes people who "like guns". Ainsley then says "...you don't like people who do like guns. You don't like the people."
That gets to me. We all have certain rights and opinions and beliefs and biases. But do we like the people? The people who are different from us... do we like them? Not do we agree with them. Not do we condone whatever it is they are doing. Not even do we want to be friends with them. Just, in general, do we like them as fellow human beings? If you like the people, can you not find a way to express your opinion without being just plain mean? If you like the people, can you maturely discuss differences of opinion rather than just taking it personally and leaving angry comments on their Facebook page?
Am I okay with poking fun at a person who, of her own volition, goes on The Bachelor, gets drunk and makes a fool of herself? You betcha. Am I going to stop making jokes about bad grammar or the fact that someone comes to my business and wants to sell me frozen meat out of their truck? Not a chance. I just hope I can keep in mind that there is a line between snark and downright derogatory.
I might be fat, but I don't want to be ugly* on top of it.
*To my non-Southern friends, "ugly" here is generally meant to describe my attitude, not my overall appearance. Because, clearly, I'm cute as a button.