Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marie Claire, you are dead to me.

Just a couple of horrifying big girls, miracle the camera didn't break!

I’ve been struggling all day with figuring out a response to the current circus surrounding Maura Kelly’s horrifically hateful fat-bashing blog post that is garnering so much attention over at Marie Claire. Especially since today @MarieClaire supposedly solicited some counterpoint to the piece.

For those of you who have not read the post, you can find it here, in all of its prejudiced, ill-informed, dismissive, and indifferently spelled glory. Should Fatties Get A Room…

I recommend you actually click over and read it, since otherwise the following will make little or no sense.

For starters, it seems clear I should preface this by saying that Maura Kelly has every right to her opinions. I am a strong believer in the right to free speech, and I will defend anyone’s right to express themselves. After all, just because you are small-minded and bigoted, doesn’t mean you need to be silenced. I can choose not to listen to you, the same way I ignore racists, misogynists, homophobes, and people who think they were abducted by aliens. I have never before delved into the work of this particular hard-hitting journalist, as I already know he is into me, have never had a Holiday related dating disaster, and I would never have sex in public for sport. Just for pay. But I digress.

Maura, at the prompting of her Marie Claire editor, read an article on that indicated that people were finding the new sitcom Mike and Molly, about two plus-sized people who fall in love, was making them uncomfortable. And while some people are uncomfortable with the visual of humans of this particular heft getting hot with each other, most people seem more uncomfortable with the reliance on fat jokes as the driving comedic force behind the show.

AHHH!  The Horror!  Look away!

Now, my first instinct was not to address this, as I have not seen the show. But lucky for me, Ms. Kelly felt free to write about it without watching it either, so now I know my ethics are okay! In fact, Ms. Kelly indicates that she is both “not much of a TV watcher” and “can be kind of clueless”, an admission which became very obvious over the next few paragraphs.

For starters, Ms. Kelly indicates that the particular level of obesity in the main characters is problematic. Because apparently, Ms. Kelly is unaware the current AVERAGE size of women in America is 14, and they might want to see people who look like themselves on television in lead roles. For every size 0 actress in Hollywood, is a size 28 somewhere who probably would be happy, now and again, to open a magazine or go to a movie that celebrates her experience and does not dismiss her because of her size.

Ms. Kelly also implies that showing these people on TV is somehow implicitly promoting obesity, (despite the fact that the two meet in Overeaters Anonymous, dealing with their obesity in a proactive and healthy way) which makes her angry because her insurance premiums might go up for dealing with the related health issues of fat people.

Ms. Kelly goes on to say:

“So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. 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 (sic) heroine addict slumping in a chair.”

Poor Maura. Life must be very distressing with all these aesthetically displeasing people running around spoiling her view. She acknowledges that she has a couple “plump” friends, but that comes off as the equivalent of a low-level racist claiming a pal of color or two. But she does accidentally touch on the issue which is actually nearest and dearest to my heart.

She aligns very obese people with alcoholics and drug addicts. With whom, in fact, they have a lot in common. Compulsive overeating has the same hallmarks of any addiction. There can be genetic predisposition. There can be environmental factors. And there is a very strong element of being out of control. The addiction takes both psychological and physical hold. There is an emotional toll for loved ones. It can negatively impact your relationships, lifestyle, and health.

But here is the difference, Ms. Kelly, since you are so quick to say that “I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It's something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.”

Alcoholics, drug addicts, they can quit cold turkey and never touch booze or dope again.

Compulsive Overeaters have to have a relationship with food multiple times a day every day for the rest of our lives. No one has to try and teach alcoholics how to have just one drink three times a day, or show a drug addict how to take just one tiny toke every three hours. Food is the hardest addiction to overcome, and the one with the most misconceptions. Maura seems to genuinely believe that the difference between fat and not fat is just “eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it's cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you're getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more.” There is nothing wrong with any of this advice. It is a blueprint for a reasonably healthy life for anyone at any size (although the standing at the computer thing is ridiculous and obsessive). But none of that shows any awareness or sensitivity to the very real psychology behind the disease.

Now, I have had this discussion with many people over the years, as a plus-sized woman, and often it is simply that they themselves have had no personal experience with eating disorders, either as a sufferer or having someone close to them dealing with the issue.

But Maura Kelly, by her own admission, is a recovered anorexic.

Who never stopped for one second while writing this diatribe of intolerance to think that perhaps her utter loathing of fat people might be related to her own very personal demons? My whole life as a fat girl, I was always so relieved that if I was going to have an eating disorder, at least it was overeating and not starving myself. I cannot imagine how awful it must be to feel compelled to reduce yourself to the smallest possible person. To work so hard and suffer so long to become a size 0, to become nothing. (And let me be clear, I don't mean you tiny girls whose natural state happens to be a size 0.  I mean the people who obsessively seek that non-number as a mark of pride and success.)

To say to the world that you do not deserve to take up too much space.

I might be fat, and I have had my share of sad moments when I wish that I were not, but I genuinely like what I see in the mirror most days, and have never once felt the need to try and shrink myself for any reason other than my health. And let me be clear, I have no desire to be skinny. I’ll take voluptuous, curvy, and healthy. A double digit size is fine with me, as long as the first digit is a 1. It is a constant struggle, a battle I win one day and lose the next.  But along the way, I never forget to love who I am, because who I am is pretty spectacular no matter what size I happen to wear, or what people like Maura Kelly might think of me.

As an educator who spent over 15 years working with teenagers, I know how damaging the sort of attitude that Kelly espouses can be.  Marie Claire is a magazine targeted at young women in their most impressionable and vulnerable years.  They might think that cheeky little pieces like Maura Kelly's are sassily provocative, but what they are is the propaganda of hate.  Its okay to revile overweight people, because of course, it is just an issue of having some self control!  That they don't seem to care that it gives permission for others to embrace that very intolerance, can feed into the culture of bullying that is so prevalent today amongst young people is irresponsible and extremely disappointing.

It is an issue I deal with in all of my books. In Inappropriate Men, the size 24 heroine is having a passionate affair. (Look away, Maura, fat girl having sex!) In Room For Improvement, the lead character worries about how being a size 14 will affect her budding career as a designer on a home improvement television show. And in my new book,Good Enough to Eat, the woman at the heart of the story is a formerly obese woman who has lost the weight, and loses her husband in the process.

For Good Enough to Eat I drew on my 25+ years of experience as a plus-sized person. The kind of person who would “gross out” Ms. Kelly if she saw me crossing a room.

Ultimately, I feel terrible for Maura Kelly. For the struggles she herself has been through with her own body, and for the pathology that makes her knee-jerk to being repulsed by all fat people because they represent her own personal most deeply held fear of what she herself could become.

So while I am, and have been all day, seething at this post, it is not Maura and her anti-fat vitriol that bother me the most. I have long been used to fat being the last acceptable prejudice. My distress comes from the fact that Marie Claire Magazine not only assigned this piece to an admitted former anorexic who has not watched the show, but read it, gave it their stamp of approval, posted it on their site, and defended it when it garnered negative attention.

Now, I do not often read Marie Claire, as I am a 40 year old plus-sized woman who already got the guy, got the job, knows how to organize her purse, and will never EVER wear an item as unfortunately named or generically unflattering as “jeggings”. But I thought it was great when they brought on Ashley Falcon, a plus-sized stylist. And Nina Garcia has always been pretty great on Project Runway when they have had the rare plus-sized challenges, taking designers down a peg when they complain about how hard it is to design flattering things for women who are built like women and not ten year old boys.

But this. This erases all former goodwill.

If Maura Kelly’s post had been about the disgusting nature of interracial couples kissing on television, or how uncomfortable it is to have to see gay people walk across a room, Marie Claire would have issued a formal apology, made a donation to GLAAD or the Anti-Defamation League, fired Ms. Kelly quickly, and hired a talented gay writer of color.  And lord knows, if they were smart, they would hire a plus-sized writer to do an ongoing blog about living as a larger person.  To fill the vacancy they should create where Maura Kelly currently resides.

My twitter page today was filled with note from my Tweeps, all of whom know that I am a plus-sized woman who writes about the lives of plus-sized women with what I hope is sensitivity, honesty, compassion, and love. I got e-mails from some of my fans saying how much they hoped Marie Claire would ask me to write a rebuttal piece. But like my BFF Jen Lancaster, who wrote her own very wonderful piece on this issue today, which I strongly recommend you read here, I don’t need Marie Claire to ask me to share my thoughts on their tacitly endorsing the views put forth in a piece of writing that is deeply hurtful and offensive to a large segment of the population.

I cannot force major women’s magazines to stop ignoring plus-sized women, any more than I can stop Hollywood from taking an extraordinarily talented actor like Melissa McCarthy and either marginalizing her to the “fat bestie”, or when they finally give her a lead role, taking the sad path of relying on the fat jokes. She is so much better than that, and as Jen mentions, if ever someone has the guts to produce any of my books as movies or TV shows, she is up there on the top of my dream list for casting.

But I can use the same freedom of speech that supported Maura Kelly in putting out such a sad piece of crap to say shame on them.

Shame on you, Marie Claire. In an age where bullying sends kids down a suicide path, endorsing ANY denigration of another human being based on who they are and not what they do is shameful. You want to hate someone because of their actions, fine. Lord knows I have a list of my own. But weight, no less than skin color, sexual preference, religion, or gender identity is a part of who someone is, and intolerance of who someone is, that is as base as someone can be.

To Marie Claire I can say that I wish I believed that this was purely an insensitive oversight and not, as I suspect, a cheap shot intended to create media uproar and bring you attention.

To all the larger girls who read Maura Kelly’s ugly words, I can only say this.

You are beautiful. You are deserving of love. You are deserving of respect. No one can take away your intelligence, your kindness, your generosity of spirit. The person you are has nothing to do with the number on the scale or the tag on your clothes. You are sexy. You are powerful. And there is nothing you cannot do. If you decide to get smaller, for your health, or because you simply want to be smaller, I am on your side and pulling for you. And if you decide that you like yourself just the way you are and have no desire to change, I am on your side and pulling for you. You deserve to see women like yourself represented in the magazines you read, the television you watch, the movies you see. Not made the butt of the joke, or as the sidekick, but front and center in the spotlight. Do not ever be ashamed of how much air you displace in this world. You are not minimal. You are a celebration. Revel in yourself, and love yourself. And know that you are not ever alone.

Some women of size that I have looked to for inspiration:

Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah, Emme, Camryn Manheim, Delta Burke, Ann Wilson,Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibe, Kathy Bates, Della Reese, Mae West.

And of course, Jen Lancaster. Who had the ability to not only express her own outrage, but to go for the funny, which I was too angry to be able to do.

Yours in Outrage,
The Polymath


  1. You brought tears to my eyes reading this. As a "fat girl", I read that article by Maura Kelly and I had the initial reaction that I am sure a lot of overweight women reading it had - shame. To see such ugliness spelled out in black and white is never a good feeling. And then I got mad. And as the hours went by, I got even madder. The shame faded away because you know what? I happen to love me. Yep, I am a fat girl but you know what? I have a life, I have a good life with amazing people in it. And I don't need some narrow minded writer to insinuate that I should have nothing good in my life because, God forbid, I am not a size 6.

    Thank you, Stacey, for putting the words that I couldn't formulate out there and I applaud the classy way you went about it.

  2. the point you made about food addicts/over-eaters having to face their addictions each and every day strikes such a chord with me - I can't tell you the degree of anxiety this gives me!

    thank you for writing this

    I read and loved Jen Lancaster's response as well and the two compliment each other - it's no wonder you are friends

    I am grateful you both have the platforms you do to reply to Marie Claire


  3. Thank you for your words. Both you and Jen were able to make this situation a little less disgusting. Thank you.

  4. Beautifully stated. I love the last paragraph and may have to keep that on my mirror to see each day!!

  5. Thank you, Stacey. I love that you and Jen both wrote such amazing posts that hit all the same topics, yet in your own individual styles!

    I was appalled when I heard about this article. Like you said earlier in the post, fat prejudice is the last prejudice to be accepted, and probably the least understood.

    Thank you for the note to all us girls at the end. I think we all need a little encouragement from time to time!

    By the way, I just got your new book and can't wait to read it. I literally looked all over the country for it... At Borders in Oklahoma City, in the bookstores inside the Atlanta Airport, and finally found it at Barnes & Noble in Salt Lake! I'll be pimping it out over on my blog after I finish it.

    Thanks for standing up for us big girls and giving us a voice! I really admire you!

  6. There's having an opinion and then there is being rude. It reminds me of little kids that blurt out things they shouldn't but they haven't learned they shouldn't yet. Except she's old enough to know better.

    Honestly, my emotions have been going back and forth with this since yesterday when I first read it. I was surprised to hear the women on The View talk about it this morning and it seems like everyone had been twittering about it all day and still are. And now MC is making some kind of competition out of it. Ugh!

    FYI: Love the picture of the "big girls". You look like you are having a great time. Imagine, fat people actually have a fun. How dare they.

  7. Great article!!! I couldn't agree more with the above comments! :) What's shocking to me is that there are plenty of shows with larger men who are married to slim women. So you can't help but think, this author's "uncomfortableness" is with the woman.

    It's just sad to see women tear each other down instead of creating support systems!

  8. Stace--this is AWESOME! Written so eloquently and perfect. I know that girl is dreading waking up in the morning and facing the backlash. In fact, the more I think of it, this is the makings of a perfect novel. Also, the more I think of it, it could be her memoir--too bad her writing isn't very good. (See, I'm being nice.) xo

  9. awesome post! Am so sick of the these type of comments being acceptable and the bullying in this area being dismissed. I don't want to diminish other types of bullying, but this type is just as awful and hurtful. We all need to speak up and stop this. Ms Kelly is woefully ignorant. Marie Claire is disgustingly opportunistic.

  10. Love you and love Jen. That article was horrifyingly inappropriate, particularly given all of the recent focus on the terrible impact of bullying and intolerance. The article was so crass and seething with hatred that it seemed its goal was to induce an impressionable over-size-6 teenager with acting aspirations to feel awful or, worse, to harm his/herself.

    It's bad enough that magazines such as this glamorize unrealistic pencil-thinness with their photos on a daily basis, but to actually boldly state, in essence, "WE HATE FAT PEOPLE," is astonishingly insensitive and irresponsible.

  11. I'm so glad that Jen recommended your blog! I agree whole heartedly with you and Jen in response to this piece. The part that got me was in her "UPDATE" that "Morbidly obese is defined as one hundred percent more than ideal body weight" and that she claims that Ms. McCarthy is morbidly obese made me laugh out loud. At 5'6", I weighed 242 pounds and my ideal weight is 150, so I had 58 pounds to breach the threshold of morbidly obese. Looking at various picture, I HIGHLY doubt Melissa is approaching that.

    Oh, and let's talk about perception. If my formerly 242 pounds (I am down to 180, but after two HARD years battling literally a necessary evil.) disgusted Ms. Kelly, I would like her to see what her "plump" friends weigh. Once I told people how much I had lost and how much more I wanted to lose, they couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe that I weighed 242 pounds. They weren't idiots and knew that I was fat, but like anyone with a brain, they saw me for who I was, not the rolls and rolls of fat making out in a bar.

    Basically, I can only hope that Marie Claire will realize their wrong and properly rid themselves of a recovering anorexic so that she can focus on her recovery a la Lindsey Lohan. But, clearly without the unbridled job security of Charlie Sheen.

    Love you, love the blog, love the books, love your outlook on life!

  12. I don’t need to be eloquent here; Stacey took care of that beautifully. My gut reaction to this article by Maura: the woman writing this article is the same snotty, catty, hurtful, attacking, ill-informed, poorly-spoken bigot I easily imagine she must have been in high school and middle school. What an immensely hateful, psychologically immature woman. Freedom of speech aside, I’m stunned Marie Claire is foolish enough to align itself with this person’s words. They are certainly casting their vote by printing this vapid twit’s thoughts. A wonderful book exists that helps us understand women like Maura in all her vitriolic glory: Mean Girls All Grown Up by Cheryl Dellasega PhD. Folks, remember what grandma lovingly advised, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” Maura isn’t dispensing constructive criticism, she is lashing out like a cruel child; putting down others to make herself feel superior. I wish for her sake, and for those that read her words, that she grows up and learns to love. Never buy into hate like hers. You are all worth far more than that.

  13. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this Stacey. I am appalled by that "journalist's" comments and actually even more upset by her "apology". As if telling us that she was anorexic will make her behaviour excusable.

    The realization that a food addict can't just remove their addiction from their life really hit home for me when I read your book. I'm glad to see you share it here on your blog too.

    I almost wish I had a subscription to Marie Claire that I could cancel... but fortunately I'm smart enough not to buy that cr@p in the first place!

    P.S. I have watched Mike and Molly and it is Funny! Yes, there are fat jokes, but there is also a real relationship between two people with insecurities, trying to find love. I know I'll keep watching.

  14. Brava! Between you and Jen, you have both expressed so eloquently what I've been thinking since I first read that nasty bit of writing at Marie Claire.

    I am an avid runner and eat a healthy diet of healthy grains, lots of veggies, etc. and yet I am still overweight. I could hide under my blankets and sulk about this or I can hop on my bike and go run errands around town, including buying myself a cute new outfit to wear on a date with my husband of 19 years. (Last night was a great local Tex Mex place, then the Muse concert.) *shrugs* I think I'll just live life to the fullest and not worry about what "size-ist jerks" think about me.

  15. Thank you so much. All of this says what I'd like to say but so much better.

  16. Thank you! Especially for that last paragraph. I am a big girl who is more often disgusted with myself than in love with myself so those last words really hit home and I too will be posting them on my mirror as a daily affirmation. You and Jen are constant sources of hilarity and inspriation.

  17. As with everything else you write, this was perfect! Stacey, thank you for being beautiful, kind, generous, and intelligent.

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  19. As I said to Jen, never read MC and NEVER will. Go get 'em girls!!!! Great article Stacey!!

  20. This is wonderful, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. Came here through Jen Lancaster's Twiiter link and after hearing so much about you through her as well I have added all of your books to my "must-read" list.

    Rock on!

  21. Just wanted to say thank you to you and Jen ~ for caring about the fat girl in all of us... You are truly inspirational

  22. Thank you. I read this with tears in my eyes. Nobody could have ever said it better.

  23. Great posts by both you and Jen (had to include her in the accolades as her comments are disabled).

    I have to say that I don't care to watch ANYONE'S displays of affection, regardless of size, color or species. (Unless it's a leaked celebrity sex tape, in which case all bets are off)

    Your black friend, Gina :-)

  24. What a great post! I follow Jen Lancaster on Twitter, which is how I got pointed in your direction to read this, and I am now anxious to get my hands on one of your books. So while I was not familiar with any of your writing until today, I still want to thank you for it!

  25. Thank you, Stacey! First of all, I am loving that show---I am not uncomfortable at all. I did not know about this Marie Claire article, and being a mom to 3 teenage girls, if the magazine does come into our house, we will have a lot to talk about. I am outraged that there are girls who will read this and think they are not worthy. I love the message you just sent any girl who reads that article and sees your blog. Thank you for the help you are giving them (and me)

  26. Wonderful post, Stacey. You and your fabulous BFF Jen Lancaster provided some well-thought out responses to that drivel that Marie Claire allowed to be posted. Would have been great if Maura Kelly had given her article as much thought, huh?

  27. I went to high school in Joliet with Melissa McCarthy. Graduated with her in 1988. She was hot then and she is still hot today. Dammit. Why didnt I have the guts to ask her out in high school? Lord, what a buffoon I was/am. But I guess I wouldnt have my fantastic wife if I had. Well, Id have a different fantastic wife.

    Oh hell, Ive dug myself a hole. Someone take the shovel away.

  28. I'm sorry, but when people include Marilyn Monroe and Mae West as "plus size", I have to cringe. They were not plus size then, nor in today's world. They were curvy, yes, but their dimensions are probably more fitting of today's 6 rather than a 14 as Urban Legends claim. It may have been a size 14 they wore in their heyday, but our obsession with size has led clothing brands to redefine sizes (anything to keep us out of dreaded "plus size" category.

    I'm not a small person (size 10-12 depending on the designer - 14 if its a dress and i need to de-emphasize "the girls"), but there IS a point where it is unhealthy, much the same as being too small (anorexic). You can be fit and fat (I work out, have low blood pressure, low cholesterol), but when you see people who are on The Biggest Loser, those are not people who love themselves. They are huge because they DON'T love themselves.

    I've not seen this show either, but I'm glad they are at least matching up people of the same size (how many more shows could their be with the heavy man and hot thin wife?)

  29. As a new reader to your blog you have gained another fan! I think a lot of writers out there forget that they are role models for their fans and to see your favorite author doing something really brave makes that person be brave in their own life. I hope all your readers can take your words to heart.
    I have married my high school sweetheart, gotten a masters degree, traveled around the world, learned to be a great chef, and so many more things yet all of these things happened while I was plump but more importantly they happened when I believed in myself and the fact that I am beautiful.
    Thanks again for your inspirational words and as I wrote Jen, Real Simple is the best magazine anyway :)

  30. Thank you... from the bottom of my age 24, size 18 I STILL THINK I'm BEAUTIFUL heart. xo

  31. Except for the 27 places you DID bring the funny. My favorite: Now, I do not often read Marie Claire, as I am a 40 year old plus-sized woman who already got the guy, got the job, knows how to organize her purse, and will never EVER wear an item as unfortunately named or generically unflattering as “jeggings.” That is some funny shit. You rock.

  32. Truly a great and well-written article, Stacey. You and Jen hit the nail on the head and did so in a respectful way, which I'm sure is difficult sometimes. Thank you for being the voice of all women, big or small, who were offended by the MC article. I appreciate it.

  33. Perfection in a paragraph (or two).

  34. Honestly the thing that gets me about Maura Kelley is that she herself had an eating disorder - I was anorexic and you really never get over that or any other disorder - it is a life long process but as someone who has experienced an eating disorder how can you judge others for what their journeys entail. Everyone has their own set of issues, problems, body image and the like. Who in the world has the right to sit in judgment on something they themselves do not understand. True she has the right to her opinion it just seems that she could have been a little more empathetic and sensitive but such is life.

  35. my favorite is the "advice" on how to lose weight. really? i never thought of that before i had to have bariatric surgery. i couldn't lose the weight, doing all the "correct" things. and another thing, my own surgical doctor warned me, "bodies know what size they are supposed to be. some of those who have surgery will never be thin, but they will be healthy mentally and physically." i thought about this often as i went from a size 32 to a 14. would i like to be smaller? maybe my tushy, but then i would be losing my boyfriend's favorite body part. :-) i guess what i'm trying to say in this random paragraph, is that as long as you are healthy, it shouldn't matter what you look like. a favorite saying of mine is "i can always lose the weight, but you can never stop being an idiot."

  36. Both you and Jen Lancaster make me very proud to be a woman with a two digit dress size.
    When I met my husband I was 240 pounds (I'm 5'11). I was in the process of losing weight when I first met him. With time and a lot of hard work I got to 190 and quickly found myself pregnant. After the baby, I worked my butt off (literally) to get to 175 pounds. I was a happy size 12, I didn't want to go any lower. But I was also obsessive about staying there and it took a lot of work. I was at the gym 7 days a week and eating a very low carb diet. Unfortunately, I'm a stress/emotional eater and things with my husband weren't going well. People would tell me I looked great and that I didn't need to lose anymore weight. My husband wasn't one of those people. He would just keep telling me I needed to lose another 20 pounds. 20 pounds!! Are you kidding me? I was so restrictive with food already, how the hell could another 20 pounds come off? It didn't. In fact the stress in our marriage and my anger and resentment toward him for not accepting me as I am, at any given weight, put me back on the rollercoaster to eating. I currently sit at 229 and you know what...fuck it...I'm the same sarcastic funloving girl no matter what the tag says in my clothes. I'm built for comfort and not for speed. And if you ask my 5 year old, he'll tell you he doesn't want mommy to lose her tummy because he wouldn't have a place to lay his head.

  37. Thank you Stacey for this insightful post.

    As a current average-sized woman, I have to say I do eat fresh/unprocessed foods, read labels, avoid foods with processed sweetener (sometimes!), consume whole grains/fiber and exercise at least 30 minutes a day a few times a week. (Okay it's 2 days most weeks, but I always shoot for 4!) I walk everywhere in this great city too. So thank you Ms. Kelly for your profound advice on how to be a size 2.

    And while I try to do all of those things, if I want to go eat a fabulous meal the restaurants at our disposal, I do. Why? Because I like it!

    A friend of mine told me his assistant eats nothing but a piece of lettuce and scoop of cottage cheese for lunch each day. One day he told her, "You must be so hungry all of the time." To which she replied, "I'm starving!"

    I may not be a size 0 like that girl, but I actually enjoy my life and (gasp!) even food! I think it's too much work to be "perfect". And unhappy, probably.

    I'm healthy and my yearly blood work is proof of that. So, screw you scale and size 14 pants. And, screw you Maura Kelly.

  38. I'm tired of seeing skinny people on tv.I'VE canceled my magazine to marieclaire That writer had a was not sorry at all shes most likely thorws up all her food to stay thin.

  39. Thank you for this post. It saddens me to no end to read that article in Marie Claire. I am not a customer of MC and I'm now grateful that I am not a reader of the website. I'm sure I will be angry about all of this later, but for right now I am just sad. Sad to know that there are people that see me kissing the man that loves me and gag, the same people that would die at the thought of sitting next to me on the plane, the same people that would let me die of a preventable disease rather than cover me on insurance. We live in a sad place.

  40. an AMEN! for you as well. At first I was angry, then I had tears. There are so many layers to this issue, and they are different for each and every person. Thank you (& JEN) for calling them out, but also for giving a POSITIVE end to this. I watch my daughter deal with this issue, in large part, I am sure, thanks to my own obsession with this issue her entire life (MY entire life!). I know that a large part of my own issues came from media portrayal - look around in real life, and I don't look so bad! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! And by the way, I'm a 5'9" size 14-16, working out and eating right constantly to stay there/get to a size 12, and my labs are perfect at every annual exam. I don't get on the scale - I just judge by how my clothes fit and how I feel. Who made Marie Claire & Maura the judge of what is right for all of us?!?!

  41. The weirdest part of all is, Marie Clare has an actual column every month devoted to plus size fashion, with a columnist who writes about how size and style are not mutually exclusive.

    I am writing Marie Clare, to let them know that I will never buy their magazine again. I hope everyone who is saddened does the same. Fat women like me read fashion magazines, and women's lifestyle magazines, and I hope that enough women write them, and stop buying them, to put them out of business.

  42. Stacey, The sincerity and passion in your post brought me to tears. I agree with the mom that posted above and wish my mom had her take on things.

    My mother is still obsessed with her weight and not enjoying her life because of it. I wish I knew how to get her to let go of that, I have been trying for 20 years in my adult life. I will be sharing your post with her.

    Thank you for sharing your passion and talent with us.

  43. I have struggled with my weight and been obsessed about it for as long as I can remember. Even after I reached my target weight, the "target" just got lower and lower. I always thought that reaching my goal weight would make my life perfect. Ha! This past year being "skinny" has been really, really rough and more likely than not, has lead to increased anxiety and hormonal problems.
    My point in responding: Thank you for standing up for all women and people of all sizes, shapes and colors. There is enough negativity in this world and people taking "cheap shots" just for attention.
    If we all loved and respected ourselves and others, this world would be a happier place, I believe.
    So thank you for contributing to that positivity and giving a "shout out" of love to all. I think everyone needs this reminder.

  44. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I wasn't expecting to end up in tears at the end, but they are good tears. It's so refreshing to have someone take a respectful stand for decency and basic human compassion. I don't expect hand holding and singing around campfires, but there is a general lack of humanity in our world these days. Maybe with more voices like yours this can change. Thank You.

  45. Thank you so much! I struggle with my weight on a daily basis,and I find that article damaging and I am in the 30's. I can't imagine what younger women thought reading her piece. Thank you for speaking out for all of us.

  46. Thank you so much for this. As a person who has never nor will ever be a size 0, I abhore women's magazines that focus on a women's size and ultimate prejudice if you are not a 0. I also read Jen's rebuttal and you two are so lovely. I enjoy you both.

  47. Thank you so much for writing this article. As someone who has struggled with my weight since I was 12 (I'm 22 now), I was pretty pissed at the original article. I'm so glad to see that you and Jen were able to respond to it. It is horrible how people can judge others based on weight, and I completely agree with you, that weight bias is in the same category as color and race. Thank you for this post!

  48. I have always loved your writing, your books are among my favorites. This ranks right up there with the best things you've ever written. Thank you for giving a voice to so many people who don't have the confidence to speak out for themselves. Now get off the computer and go write another novel :)!!

  49. i'm going to go follow you on twitter right now.

    If you'll give me a moment to tell a short story ...

    I started Nutrisystem a few days ago, and my mood plummeted on >1000 calories per day. On Day 3, I called my husband, nearly in tears (but ironically without the energy to produce them) because i was sososo hungry. In a dead-serious tone, he told me he had no idea why I was even on a diet, that I was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, and that he wanted me to go to the grocery store immediately and buy myself a treat.

    what a guy, right? your and jen's articles gave me the same feeling. thanks.

  50. I am a size 6. And I found the Marie Claire article horribly, horribly offensive. It isn't just overweight people who were hurt by her words, it's anyone who cares about an overweight person.

    My aunt is morbidly obese (nearly 600 pounds). She's also a registered nurse and a lover of horror films. Some of my earliest memories are cuddling with her and watching ghosts and monsters. I felt safe when she was next to me.

    One of my best friends has a thyroid problem. She's super shy about her weight. She hesitates to go out in public because of all the eyes on her. She also raises hairless cats, writes fantasy stories, and has a hilarious dry sense of humor.

    My husband is nearly 300 pounds. He was 250 when we married. He struggles with weight loss, dieting and exercising and trying to combat stress-related weight gain. Because he's also a family violence therapist. He is still the most attractive man I've ever met.

    Overweight people are so much more than their weight! And bashing something they are already super sensitive about (thanks to our appearance oriented society) just to drive traffic to a website is repulsive. I hope Maura gets the treatment she obviously still needs. I hope her editor gets canned.

  51. I read this during my commute on the bus this morning and it brought tears to my eyes... and you know what? I didn't care!

    The MC article makes me rage. Not for myself, but for other people. Luckily, with my extra 30 or so pounds comes a confidence that Ms. Maura herself clearly does not possess. I find her ignorance palpable, so much so that I can't help but laugh. I'm 30 and I work out AT LEAST 5 times a week, cook from scratch on most occasions, consume little processed foods and drink almost a gallon of water a day (I draw the line at STANDING at my computer! WTF?) oh... and I'm and overweight! IMAGINE THAT!
    But, I'm also HAPPY, and CONFIDENT and because I am capable of loving myself, I have found love in the form of my wonderful husband, something Maura and her skinny self will never find until she learns to love herself and everyone around her. (You know she battles day in and day out with her anorexia. hhhhmmmm suddenly not SO easy to overcome an eating disorder now, is it?)

    What breaks my heart is all those women out there reading the article who are NOT secure in themselves, struggling to love themselves, fighting what seems like a losing battle to make themselves healthy... those women are subjected to THIS peice of trash!
    Thank you Stacey for posting such a wonderful and empowering message! I am sharing it with everyone I know that has read this article, including a website I use for weightloss and healthy lifestyle changes.

  52. A friend posted your link on Facebook and so now I have "found" you. Thank you so much for this post. I just ordered your book, and look forward to reading more. As a 40-ish, plus-sized gal with a great career and a rich personal life, I would find the MC article funny were it not for all of the young girls who will read it as gospel.

  53. Thank you for this amazing and heartfelt post. It nearly made me cry, especially the ending :)

    I have to admit that when I first read Maura Kelly's words, I dismissed them as coming from someone who is simply ignorant. I figured, she's in the minority. No problem.

    And then this happened: (and she reiterated it more than once that fat people can change)

    And then this from an admittedly size 2 Hispanic woman:

    And then it got worse:

    What this made me realize is that Maura Kelly's attitude is more widespread than I thought. I've been exposed to it before, sure, but I never came so directly face to face with it. I don't read "women's" magazines, I have a wonderful loving husband, a fantastic family, a great career and I've done it all by being a size 18 at most, now a size 14 and on my way down to, I hope, a 10 thanks to a special diet.

    So Maura Kelly's words didn't make me feel ashamed, but hearing them repeated back by other women was a horrifying experience. They said it like it was no big deal, like duh, it's obvious that all overweight people are just too lazy to do anything about it. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

    So if I could talk to Maura Kelly now, I would say thank you for bringing this to my attention. Thank you for showing me that as far as we think we've come as a society, there are still some types of discrimination which are considered ok to say out loud to the whole of the world. After all, even real, hardened racists will keep their mouths shut in mixed company. But apparently it's ok to bash people with weight problems to anyone who will listen and there will be no pushback.

    We have a lot of work to do.

  54. Thank you for telling me that I am beautiful and worth something and not just a "fattie" as Ms. Kelly so lovingly states.

  55. Great articles Stacy & Jen ... I am naturally thin so will never ever say that I can sympathize with someone who struggles with weight. There are so many factors that play into this, that all the lovely ladies have addressed before me. That said, the MC column disgusted & angered me. As a woman I think no matter your size we all face body image issues our whole lives - too fat, too skinny, no boobs, big boobs, etc... and for another woman to knock us down is SO uncool.

  56. I must assume Ms. Kelly has never watched Roseanne either. Although, someone must have because she and her plus-sized TV husband, John Goodman were on for a very long time.

    Good job, Stacey.

  57. I am 22, a senior in college, and one of those "very, very fat people" that the hateful Miss Kelly is disgusted by. Thank you so much for posting this. It means a lot to me that someone out there not only accepts girls like me, but would go as far as to call us beautiful and say we deserve love and respect.

    I'll most definitely be buying your books once I get some disposable income.

  58. I got this link from Jen's twitter page and much like her article yours was well written and much better than mine could ever have been. Yours gave me goosebumps because as a larger girl I have always tried to lose the weight but I can't keep it off. Thanks for the inspiration!

  59. Sending you a huge thank you from one BBW to another!

  60. As a plus-sized woman, one who has been chubby for as long as I can possibly remember, I love this post. I have a great self image and truly love myself at every size but I have been to the dark side. After working hard to lose weight about 6 years ago, and getting down to a size 12 (which still seems super skinny to me especially when I look at those jeans I used to wear) I started doing extreme things to maintain. Losing 60 lbs suddenly gave me body issues I never had before and I actually became bulemic. I managed to do the miraculous. I stopped all on my own. I also stopped the extremely unhealthy relationship with food (analyzing every morsel that I put into my mouth like a CSI tech)that I had suddenly developed. Over the years I have put a good deal of that weight back on. But I luckily have good self esteem anyway and can readily admit to most that I am crazy sexy even as a size 18. Thank you to you and Jen Lancaster for being positive voices in world that can be so very negative. Us curvy gals need you. I love that you right books about women who happen to be "fat" versus books about "fat" girls. We are multi-dimensional dammit. We have friends. We have boyfriends and husbands. We have careers. We have lives. Thank you for writing books and blog posts that make that clear.

  61. I was so appalled at yesterday’s article. I still cannot imagine that a magazine could publish such a horrible, hateful story. To make it worse, it was filled with such ignorance - obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over – give me a break! Her diet and exercise tips were ridiculous at best. She is happy to give some nutrition and fitness suggestions? She is an expert, how?

    I find it even more disturbing that she then put up an apology, and used her past as an anorexic as an excuse. If she was truly anorexic, didn’t she see the potential her hateful and cruel words had to her audience, who may have been struggling with their own weight issues? Was she trying to push her readers into following in her footsteps?

    Heavy or thin, I don’t see what difference it makes, as long as you are happy with yourself and healthy. No one has a right to judge you. I have always been very thin, but my dad’s family was very heavy. My uncle weighed over 700 pounds when he died, and my dad struggled with his weight his entire life. Unfortunately his weight caused health issues, but for all other purposes he was comfortable with it, and so was my mom who loved him for him. They both made me realize that size never matters.

  62. "...If Maura Kelly’s post had been about the disgusting nature of interracial couples kissing on television, or how uncomfortable it is to have to see gay people walk across a room, Marie Claire would have issued a formal apology, made a donation to GLAAD or the Anti-Defamation League, fired Ms. Kelly quickly, and hired a talented gay writer of color..." Amen, sister! Maura Kelly's article says much more about her own demons than anything else. Does she go to the art museum and criticize Rubens for painting curvy women? Does she tell Buddhists that Buddha needs to get off his fat ass and go jogging? Of course she has a right to express her opinion, but her editors should've expressed their right to veto her article.

  63. Regarding the show itself -- I agree with Jen Lancaster that the premise of Mike & Molly is great, but the execution is terrible. There are plenty of funny sitcoms out there, but this is not one of them. IMO, the dialogue sounds fake, the supporting characters are idiots, and I don't think a romantic comedy needs fart jokes, druggie jokes and fat jokes. Comedy should come from creating tension and from the unexpected happening, not from furniture breaking.

  64. Thank you Stacey for writing this with compassion and insight. Like you, the point that I find most disturbing is not the article, but that Marie Claire would allow it into print.....many years ago, I remember Marie Claire as being a magazine pointed toward intelligent young it reads more like a Cosmo wanna-be.


    Discovered your blog after being linked thru Jezebel (I adore Jen Lancaster and her work, so hey, bonus!) and look forward to checking out your books!

  66. AMEN!! All people, regardless of shape or size, are deserving of love. We are ALL beautiful!

  67. Bravo! Great response! I also did a post about the article. You can check it out here:

    I think Marie Claire should fire Maura Kelly and hire an African American, plus-sized lesbian. I think that would cover all bases. I'd apply, but I only fit 2 out of 3 of those. (I'm not African American.)

    I started following your blog after getting a copy of your book "Good Enough To Eat" and I have to say I love your writing, both the book and your blog.

  68. Great post. Loved every word. I'm a curvy girl who is extremely healthy and extremely fact, I'm running my first marathon next weekend in New York...and this kind of nonsense is just ignorant. It is Mean Girls-style bullying...and we all know how that goes...our Moms taught us when we were young. Bullies are only tearing you down to make themselves feel bigger. Well, Maura--to you I say, have a cupcake. There's a reason skinny people are often vapid and miserable and grumpy. THEY'RE HUNGRY.

  69. I'm standing on my overstuffed arm chair clapping and cheering for you and Jen! You are both amazing women who I have followed (Stacey you more recently) and I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of you. B/c of the two of you, I have started following my dream of writing. It's taken me almost 30 years to learn to love myself, so when I think of all the insecure 'disgusting' women reading that trash Ms Kelly wrote, I shudder to think that they will blame themselves and concede to her idea of 'the truth.' And I too wrote my own counterpoint:

  70. I'm a size 6/8 and I'm offended by her column! I've caught some of the show and I thought it was funny!!! Not once was I revolted by their affection toward each other. Nor was it promoting obesity. How freaking ridiculous. And it is doubly ridiculous coming from a woman who has struggled with an eating disorder herself!!! That just shows you she still has a total warp when it comes to seeing all bodies, not just her own.

    Great posting ... and screw Marie Claire.

  71. After spending over 2 years being bullied by my ex-husband about my weight (I was a size 6!!), I can totally relate to this post. Thank you, Stacey for expressing everything I've always felt towards "fat-haters". Now I am a size 14 and I am married to the most amazing man in the world who loves me for who I am, and always makes me feel beautiful.

  72. I am an overweight actress, and I want to say thank you. Your words have moved me to tears. i found the blog from being a super fan of Quinn Cummings. So glad she tweeted this.

    Thanks for posting about this. As someone who has struggled with my weight since I was 11 and went through a trauma, as someone who grew up bullied every single day of my life over my weight, as someone who only last week was bullied over an acting job by being called "porkbutt" and unworthy of having a part, I say THANK YOU. I was so appalled by the blog post, but have yet to be able to write about it because it was so painful. Your words said it all, though. Again, thanks!

  73. I can't thank you and Jen enough for writing these responses to this, hurtful, humiliating, awful article. I couldn't believe someone actualy wrote it, and someone else thought it would be a good idea to publish it. Like many, I have struggled with weight for a long time. The biggest I've been is a size 22, am currently a size 16 and still have in my head I'm not good enough, I'm way to big, there's no way I could be considered beautiful...all becaue of crap like this stupid article. I'm never going to be a size 0 or 6, but they make me feel like I "need" to be. I'm 37 and I'm tired. Tired of feeling like a failure beacause of my size, tied of agonizing over eating the cheesecake. Reading what you and Jen wrote today helped beyond words. I'm going to continue to work out but it is going to be on my terms. I want to be healthy, I want to keep my back strong (had surgery in July), most of all I just want to be me. Love you both, and seriously...Thank You!!

  74. All I can say is thank you. XOXOXOXO

  75. Thank you for putting out there the TRUTH. I struggle everyday with my weight and although I am losing the weight for me to be healthy. In no way is it due to society or the fact that each day someone says a horrible remark, gives a disgusting look or discriminates against me based on what I look like on the outside. I have learned to speak out and not hide.

    When I try to explain to others about the very thing you have mentioned that eating can be related to Drugs and Alcohol Abuse they do not get it.

    The fact that there are laws protecting discrimination regarding sex, religion, gender, etc. but nothing regarding size.

    It is shameful what society has made "normal", size 0 is not a size. Normal is happy, healthy at any size. Hopefully someday society will learn to see the person inside before stereotyping based on the outside.

    So thank you for saying what I have been trying to say for years. I do not read Marie Claire nor will I start now.

  76. Stacey, I love you. Under my status on facebook saying "This woman is an asshole" with a link to the article, I commented again with a quote from you from this post--the part about how, unlike other "addicts," people with food issues have to continue to live with food to, well, LIVE.

    As someone who had an eating disorder in college, I continue to struggle with both my weight and a healthy relationship with food. This woman is, in short, a douche. But you said it much more eloquently than I could.

  77. Two things -
    I've watched every episode of Mike and Molly and while I'm not so sure about the quality and depth of the show, I do like it. I think it's because I identfy with it; even the fat jokes, it's like I can finally laugh at myself. It makes me feel more okay to just be me.

    I was an 18 in jr high, a 10-14 in high school, and started putting on lbs when I started college. I am now a 22. When I met my husband I was about an 18. I had some self image issues creeping up, but was still carrying around the confidence I gained when I was thinner. My husband (then-boyfriend) never made me feel anything but beautiful. Life was good, I had a great guy, was finishing college, etc.. One night my parents came home (I still lived with my parents) and my dad was inebriated. They didn't know I was home and in my room. My father said some very, very, very hurtful things about my size to my mother that I was not supposed to overhear. He eventually apologized, but I haven't been the same since. It was hard to hear such things coming from someone that you think is supposed to love you unconditionally. Your words at the end of the post brought tears to my eyes, and I thank you for them. It's been a bumpy road and I struggle with my body image everyday. I think I might do as others have suggested and put the words you wrote on my mirror. I'm more than just a size.

  78. You know what she can eat, don't you Stacey? And very well put too!

  79. THANK YOU for speaking our for all of us plus size women! I absolutely love you and Jen. You are both high on my list of inspirational women.

  80. Thank you so much Stacey, you are an inspiration. A wonderful, dynamic, intelligent, funny and beautiful woman! You deserve to take up twice the room of an insipid, skinny bint like Maura Kelly! Keep waving the flag to alert the world of how wonderful we bigger women really are... My beautiful fiance, who was totally appalled at the Marie Claire piece of shit article, who incidentally has dated models and actresses before me says "what is aesthetically pleasing to the eye of a magazine like Marie Claire, is rarely pleasing to the touch". He loves me exactly as I am :)

  81. Being an overweight male, I happened to read through both articles thanks to a link from a Facebook post.
    Is Maura Kelly being unfair to people with obesity, probably. On the other hand, she implicitly states in an addendum to her post that she was referring to morbidly obese men and women. I have to say that I find morbidly obese men and women unattractive as well.

    Everyone is entitled to their own bias, she just happened to put hers forward in a more offensive manner than most.

    That being said, there is nothing wrong with plus sized people. I have in fact dated some, and am one to a degree. However, I am not going to judge someone for their bias on what they do and do not find attractive.

    All this I have to say is, try to develop a thicker skin, and try not to assume that everything anyone says is directed specifically at you, especially on the internet.

  82. Thank you for posting this! I love that you advocate living out loud, whatever your size. Life is simply too short. I, too, am a big girl-- always have been. Yet I was my sorority's president. Shocker, I know. I participate in exercise classes at my gym. I have a wonderful boyfriend, amazing friends, and a loving family. My life is full and I am happy. As a high school teacher, I work with many students who are uncomfortable in their skin. Shame on Maura Kelly and Marie Claire for continuing the propaganda that size equals worth. In the apropos words of Jen Lancaster, they "can kiss the fattest part of my ass."

  83. Well said Stacey.

    --Dave G

  84. Food is definitely a huge part of Thanksgiving, but giving thanks is what it's all about for us. I have a plain white table runner that I have each guest sign (with a fall-colored fabric pen)with their thoughts and what they are thankful for. It's wonderful to see each year and remember the family and friend we shared our Thanksgiving memories with each year.

  85. Can I meekly add a wee little point here? Inasmuch as I totally agree Maura Kelly is invariably a total bigot and an insensitive @$$hole, I need to just stand up for the skinny girls here for a moment.

    Why do people think it's okay to turn to me on a train, or a street corner, or in a cafe and say "Wow you're SO thin. I wish I had that level of self control." I would never say "Wow you're SO fat, you must love McDonalds" to ANYONE. Please remember that you might be heavy because of a number of different factors (genetics, love of truffle oil, laziness (ahem, Jen), etc) but those "size zero" women are thin for many reasons too. In my case, my parents are both tall and naturally slender. I eat whatever I want, when I want, I have never had an eating disorder, and I only go to the gym when forced to against my will. My friends refer to me as "the unfittest skinny girl they know" or "fat on the inside".

    That said, I love the outdoors, I consider myself to have an active lifestyle, and above all, I'm content with my body. I'm beautiful, even if I do have the calves of a 6-year-old boy and my hip bones stick out like a horse's saddle. But the same way "fat girls" don't like to have it pointed out, "skinny girls" don't either.