A controversial blog post about overweight people on television is being called "the Juan Williams scandal of fashion magazines." In the piece, "Should 'fatties' get a room? (even on TV?)" — focused on CBS sitcom, Mike & Molly, about an overweight couple who met at Overeaters Anonymous — Marie Claire blogger Maura Kelly admits she'd be "grossed out" to watch the characters kiss with their "rolls and rolls of fat." The post has drawn more than 1,800 comments and incited online outrage, with commentators calling it "despicable" and "hateful." Kelly has since issued an apology and referenced her own struggle with anorexia, while Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles has said she's "excited and moved" by the blogosphere's response. Has this whole thing been overblown? (Watch a CNN discussion about obesity on TV)
No, this is a very big deal: This is more than an isolated, "bigoted post," says Josh Shahryar at The Huffington Post. "A reputable international magazine for women just came forward and told millions of women that its staff thinks they're gross." By publishing Kelly's piece and standing by it, Marie Claire "gave a bigot the platform to ... hurt millions of people."
"Dear Marie Claire and media: Fat people are people, too"
I feel sorry for the blogger: Given Maura Kelly's longstanding, public struggle with eating disorders, says Jessica Wakeman in The Frisky, the editors at MarieClaire.com should have had "the good sense not to publish [her] piece in the first place." The things Kelly wrote about obese people — "her disgust, even hatred towards their bodies" — are likely the same attacks she once turned on herself. Yet they allowed a troubled woman to "[make] a fool of herself online."
"I feel sorry for the Marie Claire 'fatties' author"
Some good may come out of this: The excerpts from Kelly's piece that have been making the rounds are "insensitive and hurtful," says Lulu and Moxleys Mom at Babble, but at least her post ("slightly less offensive" when read in its entirety) has "started a conversation about fat discrimination." Maybe the resulting dialogue can "help eliminate myths and prejudices against overweight people."
"Maura Kelly of Marie Claire: 5 reasons she shouldn't be fired'
The show itself isn't helping matters: The Marie Claire piece was "incredibly harsh," says Emily Exton at Entertainment Weekly. But Mike & Molly itself is sizist, relying on "cheap fat jokes." Its writers should "prove Kelly wrong by letting [their] lead characters become more well-rounded."
"Should 'fatties' get a room? No. But it is time for TV to move beyond fat jokes."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- Fall film guide: All the movies you should see in October
- Why you probably don't have Ebola — even if you shook hands with America's 'patient zero'
Subscribe to the Week