Whether based on hatred or ignorance, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.
Society has grown accustomed to seeing and enjoying glamorous, supermodel and celebrity eye candies fill the pages of magazines and star in widely popular movies and television shows.
So when a television show casts two overweight leads, the audience might feel as star struck.
In October, CBS premiered “Mike and Molly,” a new sitcom that tells the story of two people who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group and become a couple.
While this romantic comedy might seem like an enjoyable, original concept, complaints have been filed about the plethora of fat-jokes and the idea of showing two plus-sized actors on television being intimate with each other.
I understand if people grow tired of fat jokes, and I can even accept that some people cannot stand watching heavyset characters show affection to each other on TV.
However, expressing this rude perspective to the rest of the world can engender serious consequences.
In a response to the show, Marie Claire magazine writer Maura Kelly not only claims actors Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy, who play Mike and Molly respectively, cannot be in a healthy condition with their weight situation, but also states that she’d be, “grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”
While obesity has been proven to be detrimental to one’s health, to convey such feelings of disgust and intolerance openly is not only rude, but also unnecessary. Kelly is certainly entitled to her opinion, but she obviously lacked the common sense to predict the outcome of such hurtful comments.
Kelly, who received much negative feedback from her target audience, then posted an update to her article explaining she was incognizant her words would upset so many readers.
“How could she not know this would happen?” wrote Sadie Stein, a writer for women’s interest website Jezebel.
Stein’s question is certainly a good one. If a writer wishes to maintain a certain reputation level, she should consider her target audience when tackling sensitive topics.
Either Kelly did not take readers’ potential reactions into consideration, or she somehow felt her audience would be content with her stating that, “even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.”
Jezebel blogger Dodai Stewart accused Kelly of bigotry and stated she is, “treating a group – people who weigh more than ‘normal’ (whatever that is) – with hatred and intolerance.”
Kelly’s words do not derive from pure hatred of overweight people, but instead, result from not thinking clearly.
Hate is too strong a word. She did show intolerance toward people who are overweight, but judging from the end of her article, where she encouraged these individuals to change their lifestyles, I doubt she hates them.
If she did, she probably would not have updated her article with an apology.
“There are rules for things that we find attractive,” said Kareem Johnson, an assistant psychology professor who specializes in social psychology.
Johnson said Hollywood is partially responsible for these types of feelings because it “present[s] a false norm,” and “changes people’s perception of what’s attractive.”
He also said people are “biologically wired” to consider some physical features more attractive than others.
While it may not be Kelly’s fault for feeling the way she does, her explicit, open attitude on the subject could have been more contained.
Angry outbursts like the one her article resulted in can be avoided if we all just listen to what we learned in grade school: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t bother saying anything at all.
Colin Kirk can be reached at email@example.com.