Family Matters

Marie Claire Blogger Grossed Out by Obese TV Lovers

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Fat is a dirty word in America. “Overweight” or “obese,” of course, is the politically correct term. Yet Marie Claire blogger Maura Kelly threw tact to the wind and called it like she sees it earlier this week when she voiced her online disgust with CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. The show, which chronicles the relationship of a couple who meet at Overeaters Anonymous, has garnered criticism from two camps: those who bridle at the plentiful fat jokes and those who squirm watching intimacy between obese actors.

Kelly, to her credit, points out that obesity is costing our nation a bundle. But, besides that, she’s just grossed out. Though she insists she’s not a “size-ist jerk,” this is how she really feels: “To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair,” writes Kelly. (More on Study: Obese Workers Cost Employers $73 Billion Per Year).

Ouch. Most parents have had occasion to blush a rainbow of reds when their child notices something unusual and asks the obvious: Mommy, why does that person have one leg? Why is that boy wearing make-up? Why is that woman so fat?

We’re obligated to tell our kids — and ourselves — the truth: large folks are a fact of life. One-third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight. The U.S. recently snagged the dubious distinction of being named the heaviest of 33 economically advantaged countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (More on America is Officially the Fattest Nation)

Kelly takes issue with the show, claiming it promotes obesity. But does Mike & Molly really promote obesity any more than Seinfeld promoted wacky humor? Isn’t Mike & Molly really just a reflection of our society?

Apparently so. Kelly has since reconsidered her take on tubbiness. In an apologia appended to her post, Kelly, who has a history of anorexia, says she regrets what she wrote: “And for whatever it’s worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.” (More on Special Report: Overcoming Obesity)

Last time I checked, thin people didn’t have a monopoly on happiness. In fact, many obese people think they look just fine the way they are, according to a story published last week on Healthland.

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