By now, everyone has heard about it: “blogger” Maura Kelly’s screed for Marie Claire Magazine about “fat people kissing”. Last night people reacted: New York City held its Big Fat Kiss-In, staged in front of the Marie Claire offices.
(Has this magazine ever had a worse week? Month?)
For anyone who does not know: Marie Claire started the month in rare form, going after the most popular female health and fitness bloggers in a piece called “The Hunger Diaries”. The editorial angle on that one is all negative: fitness blogs by women, it implies, are not about good writing or healthy living but body image disorders. From there, it was a glaring straight line to Maura Kelly’s post.
About Kelly, and her rant against those who have never looked at a meal with a mind to what it’ll feel like coming back up: I wonder how many people have actually read it. I did that, because real writers do research, and because (unlike more responsible publications), Marie Claire has left her post on its site, to encourage further troll … excuse me, comment. (NOTE: As of this writing, MC appears to have removed the post without explanation or apology. I have linked to a cached copy below.)
That post — taken in context with the rest of what’s on Maura Kelly’s page — is one of the saddest, most revealing things I’ve seen in a long time.
She really sees the world in this skewed little way: Some people get to have good lives, opportunities, and fun, and some just don’t. For Kelly, the golden ticket to all the good stuff is a simple but necessary equation of height-weight proportionality — as defined by, let’s say, her employer.
To her, what happened in my office a couple of days ago? A visiting woman obviously hitting on my generously-built office mate (I like to call him Big Don Draper, because that’s just who he looks like, plus about fifty pounds)? That could never happen.
Except that it does, to him, all the time. Just as it does to my husband, who agonized when he went from a size 31 to a size 32 waist, but is clueless when a girl at Top Dog is more interested in him than the condiments. They’re both really handsome guys; they just both happen to be missing the wow-that-chick-is-hitting-on-me gene.
Which is the funny part.
But this fake blogger doesn’t know from funny. Kelly “is in her mid-thirties and … never been in love before.” I can see why. If, as e. e. cummings said, feeling is first — and it is — it’s hard to live in the tactile world when you’re the kind of person who might have kept lists of how many cinnamon bears she ate in a week. Feelings are so messy, so hard to count and control. So alive.
I want to feel bad for Maura Kelly. I want to feel sorry she’ll never have a life like that of my lovely sister, who at 33 is happily married with a three-year-old and a four-month-old, both little laughing wonders. I want to feel bad that she’s not sexy like my friends, dressing their gorgeous plus-size bodies up and going out, happily and regularly. I want to hurt for her, pedaling away on her lonely little bike, while the rest of us have the unpredictable pleasures of each other.
But I don’t. Maura Kelly is the victim of an editorial policy that, as a real blogger, would be her own.
Marie Claire has the absolute power to give this fake writer the freedom she and her mediocre work deserve. Refusing to use this (badly written: “heroine” isn’t a drug, unless we’re speaking of Becky Sharp) blog post as grounds for firing Kelly, and further refusing to issue an apology, is just more mean and stupid: at a time when all anybody knows of Marie Claire and its products is that they are mean and stupid.
Free Maura Kelly, Marie Claire. Fire her — and her editors, who give her these swell story ideas. You know you want to.
Positive blogger resources:
Check out Operation Beautiful
Visit Blog Her, a solid online resource for real feminists
Spend some time with Hangry Pants