Laurie Toby Edison

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Fat Hatred Backfires

Lynne Murray says:

On October 25, Maura Kelly, a blogger at the Marie Claire online magazin,e responded to her editor’s request to look at a positive little article on CNN.com about motion picture and television shows centering on fat characters. Kelly, who has a history of anorexia, found herself disgusted by the idea of fat characters kissing on television.

The original CNN article by Lisa Respers France was entitled “Weight is a big deal for TV, movie characters” and simply reported on the phenomenon of putting fat characters in lead roles. It garnered 212 comments.

By contrast, Maura Kelly’s purposefully inflammatory blog post, entitled “Should “Fatties” Get a Room? (Even on TV?)” had collectd 3768 comments as of today. So fat bashing pays. Or does it?

The Association for Size Diversity and Health just put out a press release applauding the backlash as “a positive sign”:

[Kelly] ended the [Marie Claire] article stating, “What do you guys think? Fat people making out on TV — are you cool with it? Do you think I’m being an insensitive jerk?”

To this question, readers responded with a resounding, “yes”. By Wednesday, thousands of people had written angry letters to Marie Claire, many canceling their subscriptions, and over 3,000 people have posted replies. The blog post has ignited a media storm encompassing blog posts on The Wall Street Journal Blog, Speakeasy, and Jezebel (one post was seen by over 100,000 people), articles in the Boston Phoenix, The New York Daily News and theatlanticwire.com as well as television segments on The View, and CNN. Leaders within ASDAH (The Association for Size Diversity and Health) are pleasantly surprised about the level and kind of public reaction. “Even now, more than 10 days after the original post, the story is still growing,” said Jeanette DePatie, Media Relations Co-Chair for ASDAH. “People are still mad and are still speaking out. We see it as a very healthy sign.”

ASDAH leaders also see countering prejudice in our society as a health issue.

For my part I was charmed by some of the forms that protests took. Ideas such as “public displays of adiposity,” a phrase that seems to have been coined by PDAnation, whose YouTube page is here. Some of the creative protests show up on this page, such as Fat Kiss-Ins in front of the Marie Claire offices and in San Francisco.

I love the idea of body positive playfulness.

For responsible media professionals who wish to become informed about health at every size issues, Linda Bacon has a great resource. Her two-page handout is an excerpt from her book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight. It’s entitled “A Message for Journalists/Writers/People in the Media: Covering Weight Concerns” concludes:

Remember that the proliferation of stories about the evils of fat and other misinformation can contribute to an increase in unhealthy weight loss behaviors, painful food and weight preoccupation, damaging cycles of weight loss and regain, poor body image, life-threatening eating disorders, stress, stigmatization, and discrimination. Don’t be part of the problem.

The media hold considerable power. Use yours respectfully.

Of course many journalists and bloggers have no interest in becoming informed, and some purposely wish to air prejudice and stir controversy to reap the maximum amount of attention for the minimum amount of effort. It’s always a pleasure to see such bad intentions reap poetic justice.

One Response to “Fat Hatred Backfires”

  1. Lynne Murray Says:

    My web diva read this post and asked if I had seen this very cool site–The Museum of Fat Love

    http://love.twowholecakes.org/index.php?album=fat-love

    “An incomplete collection of evidence proving the existence of those not-so-rare creatures: fat people in love.”

    I hadn’t seen it but I enjoyed the visit! Many lovely stories of big love.

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