November 6, 2010

Maura Kelly: I Don’t Hate Fat People, They Just Disgust Me

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , — Rachel @ 2:49 pm

The above image is a collage of cover lines from various issues of Marie Claire.

Who the hell assigned a piece about an overweight TV couple to the same writer who admits she has struggled with an eating disorder and has a warped view of weight and body image?

Maura Kelly admits in her blog post for Marie Claire, “Should Fatties Get A Room? (Even On TV?)” that she never bothered to watch the show she was assigned to write about.  Now, I haven’t seen an episode of Mike and Molly either, but I don’t need to watch the CBS sitcom to know her post is disgusting, hateful, and ignorant.

Ms. Kelly attempts to defend her position by saying, “I have a few friends who could be called plump.”  See guys, she’s not hateful and fatphobic – her best friend is fat!  Kelly writes, “…obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.”  She’s obviously just worried about the health of all those fat people.  Which apparently makes her an expert on the matter.  It’s funny, I don’t remember seeing a credit at the bottom of the post that Maura Kelly is a physician who treats every overweight person in the country, including the stars of Mike and Molly.  This faux I’M-JUST-CONCERNED-FOR-YOUR-HEALTH bullshit has got to stop.

The post wasn’t up long before everyone took notice, and the backlash began.  Maura Kelly’s article now has over 3500 responses, and Marie Claire’s Facebook Page is now almost exclusively composed of comments criticizing the magazine for the original piece and their reaction that followed (more on that below.)

Maura Kelly edited her post to include an apology, but unfortunately it’s of the “I’m sorry you were all offended” variety.  She writes, “I would like to reiterate that I think it’s great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese.” Way to nullify the rest of your so-called-apology.

What I find interesting is that in her apology Maura Kelly offered up the personal admission that she has struggled with an eating disorder, which has likely warped her viewpoints on weight and body image.  I don’t disagree, and good for her for being a little self-aware but I’m confused about two things.  First, why someone with this kind of history would want to and end up writing for a magazine that promotes the distorted thinking, behavior, and imagery that leads to this type of illness.  Secondly why she’s using that as an apology in a post that uses such hateful language that it furthers a worth-is-weight-based thinking to their female readership.

The magazine’s official response has only made things worse.  The editors are now offering posts to bloggers who disagree, under the guise of “CounterPoints” which just continues the “We’re so ignorant it’s offensive” roll they seem to be on.  Trying to “debate” or have opposing “points” about whether overweight people should be treated like human beings is beyond nonsensical.  As if they had some valid “point” to begin with.

Marie Claire has reportedly received over 28,000 responses to the piece, which makes Ms. Kelly “excited.”  I’m not sure why someone would be “excited” about that many responses.  I’m confident a majority called Kelly out on her ignorance, stupidity, and I’ve seen more than a few requests to have her fired.  Readers have cancelled subscriptions, and are notifying the magazine they will never receive a dime from them ever again.  In an economy where magazines are crumbling left and right, I’m not sure that’s something to be too thrilled about.

I’m glad to see a majority of the responses to the piece and the follow-ups have been about how awful and terrible this piece is.  However, not everyone was disgusted by Maura Kelly’s writing:

Reading through Movieline’s (the website of the now defunct magazine) blog response to the original post and the shitstorm that followed, it’s obvious they missed the point entirely. Editor S.T. Vanairsdale writes about how Maura Kelly was just trying to start a conversation about how obesity is such a taboo subject.  I’m not sure how such gems as “I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room” adds anything worthwhile to the discussion, but I fail to see it.  Someone forgot to read the actual article before bitching about the “Whining Fat Mafia”.

Like with most things in the media, there’s no room for discussion, for talking about genetics, body types, diseases, or illnesses that can cause weight gain beyond the individuals control.  People like Maura Kelly and the media have this deluded view that if they just keep bombarding us with images of skinny models, diet tips, and terrifyingly unrealistic photoshopped pictures, that everyone will just slim down to a sample-size appropriate weight.

So congratulations Marie Claire, for making me think that Glamour’s Body-Size Acceptance Policy is revolutionary.  The magazine industry is crumbling, and I feel bad for any of the smart, non-hateful writers and workers who have jobs at the magazine, but I wouldn’t be sad to see the magazine that decided to stand behind this blogger come to a close.

Many commenters have called for a boycott of Marie Claire until Maura Kelly is fired.  That’s not enough for me.  The editor-in-chief has decided to stand behind Ms. Kelly and the piece she wrote.  I just don’t see a magazine that prides itself in being so ignorant and hateful being worthy of my dollars ever again.


  1. When I read this article I was seriously in awe of how ignorant and stupid the writer was for commenting so stupidly on this subject. As a person who had previously suffered from anorexia it seemed very out of place of her to comment so distastefully on the matter of overweight characters. I feel the magazine in itself should shut-down as you mentioned for backing up such ignorant and distasteful notions about overweight people; calling all overweight people “disgusting” is no laughing matter.

    Comment by ElizabethP — November 6, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  2. Loved this article you did. A big thank you and hug. I was one of the people that send them a letter. You figure me being an editor and well known plus size celebrity someone should have returned my letter.
    No, big zero.
    But I have something special planned for them.

    Thrive in your curves.

    Comment by Olga — November 10, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  3. me and my husband are a fluffy, we LOVE the show mike & molly. i think Maura Kelly should be fired and the publisher for condoning that kind of stupidity. i don’t get that magazine, but i shore will forward this to every one i know on face book and my space to do my Owen way of a boycott.this Brod disgusts me.

    Comment by Monica Reyes — November 10, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  4. On the other hand, maybe it is good she published the article and received the kind of response she is getting. Maybe it is good for people, especially people in the media, to admit to their fat phobias and bring them out in the open so that people can deal with them. I don’t think much can change unless the problems are brought into the open.

    But I know that is not why the author wrote that article. Which, I agree, is simplistic and jeez she never even saw the show? How can you review something you have never even seen? Give me a break.

    Comment by Sarah — November 10, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

  5. I am disgusted by this! My mom is seriously overweight due to lupus, cancer, blood clots & a thyroid problem. Obviously, with all of the medical problems, it is hard for her to get enough exercise. & she can not take the proper medication to control her thyroid because it conflicts with the other medications that she needs simply to stay alive. Fat people aren’t disgusting! You are, Maura Kelly! Sometimes there is a reason behind the body weight. &, even if there isn’t, still not gross! There are places where love handles are considered beautiful. & THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL if the person who has them is a great person. You, Maura Kelly, are NOT beautiful. You’re a terrible person. How could you sit down & write something that you knew would be hurtful to so many people? Would you do the same & single out the mentally disabled, little people, a certain race, those who are taller than most, people who have freckles? Well, I think that being to thin & looking emaciated is not the most beautiful thing in the world. I also know that there are often reasons behind that. People are people.

    Comment by aimee — November 28, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  6. I hope Maura Kelly chokes on her own vomit next time she sticks her finger down her throat. She’s obviously a self-hating bitch.

    Comment by kendra — September 18, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

  7. As a feminist (and a fat woman), I’m shocked with Marie Claire’s article. The hate speech, sadly, I’ve already known, once I live in Brazil, a country who proudly takes first (or second) position in number of plastic surgeries and “beauty treatments” of the world.

    I read somewhere that brazilian women are the most concerned about being fit and “beautiful” (you might know it means “more similar to tv stars”: white, straight hair, skinny body, big breast, tiny waist, long legs, etc). The beauty industry here is very strong, so almost all magazines bring “recipes” to lose weight.

    We have no fat people on tv, only in “comedy” tv shows (being victim of “fat-jokes”). I feel happy when I see fat people well represented in Drop Dead Diva or Mike and Molly, even if I don’t like the show itself. I mean, it’s well intentioned at least.

    Here, obesity is linked, somehow, with poverty (low wage, too many hours working, not time for exercises, bad food is cheaper and easier to prepare than healthy one…). We see, on the streets, many people who are overweight, but not many “morbidly obese” (well, I don’t like this expression). My mom is one of them, and she don’t like to go out and face prejudice. It’s very hard to get thinner when you have no time, no money and feel ashamed when go to the gym.

    The magazines and newspapers are not allowed to write such hateful things. You see… they make their point based in real health issues (like: how long people wait for bariatric surgery in public hospitals) but never start it from NOwhere, just speculating about fat actress, the disgusting way martha did.

    Sorry my grammar and spelling mistakes

    Comment by alice — October 5, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  8. Maura kelly is a stupid, incompetent bitch, and i cannot believe marie claire really published that piece of shit article of hers. before anybody thinks that i’m a frustrated fat woman, i will let you know that i have 1.57 meters and weigh 50 kg.

    Comment by ioana — October 13, 2011 @ 7:03 am

  9. Imporant to distringuish issues.

    * Morbidly obese people are ugly, regardless of cause.
    * Some – a very, very few – are gnetically doomed to gross oveweight;
    These have a claim on our empathy
    * Those walking porcines from their own behavior – they deserve our contenpt.
    * Beauty is objective, not arbitrary or random.
    * The last remaek is not inconsistent with the claim that Christine Hendricks is a joy to behold, but so also is ___________(insert name of Victoria’s Secret model).

    Comment by smoogneborg — March 2, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

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