Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bloggers, Size and Corporate Culture

Yesterday there was an internet firestorm over Maura Kelly's insensitive blog over at Marie Claire. If you've missed the whole thing, Ms. Kelly blogged about the TV show "Mike & Molly" which features two overweight characters. Now, I haven't actually seen "Mike & Molly." I've have seen a commercial for it, and I remember thinking, "wow, they finally gave up on the supermodel wife matched with the schlubby husband" (According to Jim, King of Queens). And, I thought about it no more.

Until yesterday.

I'm not going to quote Ms. Kelly. You can find her quotes easily enough. The article was rude. She was insensitive. She talked about being grossed out by overweight people doing--well, anything. She compared being obese to an alcoholic being drunk. She was overwhelmingly patronizing by giving healthy living "tips." And cheering her obese readers (who she just called disgusting) by telling them they'd feel so much better, be so much happier, if they'd just get healthy. 

First, let me just say, doesn't she have an editor? Isn't there someone who previews her posts? If not, maybe there should be. Although, from Marie Claire's point of view, perhaps this whole incident has been a success? In my opinion, an editor should've been there to scale her back. For my money, Marie Claire dropped the ball.

Some people have called for Ms. Kelly to be fired. I disagree. Ms. Kelly was hired to blog her opinions. I'm not sure what else she blogs about, but her own issues with anorexia have been a topic before. And, Ms. Kelly was just being honest--the kind of honesty that looks ugly. Was she wise to admit this? I don't think so. But should she be fired for it? I think the fact she felt so free to post this blog, the fact she'd been turned onto the topic by an editor, speaks as much to the culture at Marie Claire as it does to Ms. Kelly herself. When we're surrounded by people who believe the same things we do, it is sometimes hard to remember we don't hold the only valid viewpoint. 

My entire knowledge base for a fashion magazine's inner workings comes from The Devil Wears Prada, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, so it is possible I'm wrong here. But, I wonder if no one stopped the post because no one disagreed?

Judging others for their size is a popular pastime. And, I'll admit, I've done it. I mean, if the Biggest Loser only had moderately overweight contestants, it probably wouldn't be quite so interesting. And, I think judging swings both ways. When I turn on E! I find most of female hosts shockingly thin. But, the truth is for most people on the extremes of the weight spectrum, it isn't about will power, or food, or even a number on the scale. And, an eating disorder makes your body into a billboard that announces to the world what your weaknesses are. 

Here's my bottom line. Healthy does not equal virtuous. You can't claim to be a good person because you go to the gym. Yes, there are personal benefits to being healthy. I'd like those benefits. But I am not dealing with obsessive thought and behavior patterns that sabotage my efforts. So, I am in no position to judge those who are. 

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