Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Celebrities, Politics, and Fat Shaming

I went on my first diet in sixth grade, using the Seventeen magazine's diet book, where I dutifully recorded my height, weight, measurements, and everything I ate for a period of literally days. I was not especially fat, I realized many years later; I had physically matured into a classic hourglass shape. Tipping the scales at 121 pounds was just fine.

It didn't seem fine at the time, not when the popular girls were slender waifs fretting over how fat they were at 102.

That was long ago, of course, but I have battled my notion of being Fatty McFatpants ever since. There have been periods when the adult me was nearly as slender as the sixth-grader, and there have been times of pregnancy and personal crisis when I approached twice that size. Most of my life, when I lose weight has been the carrot on the end of a rigged stick. I'm overweight but healthy, reasonably active, and if I don't care for the way I look in a bathing suit, show me anybody my age who does.

So I was surprised at the sting of a recent Twitter comment I saw from a celebrity of my vintage. I'd been a low-key fangirl since he was 21, playing teenagers on TV, and I was a college sophomore of 18 with a good eye for pretty boy-men. (Since I prefer not to direct any backlash at him, I'll just call him Alan, which isn't his name.)

Ordinarily I like Alan's tweets. He's politically aligned with my opinions, doesn't self-promote all that much, and has a lot of flashback tweets to his career. I imagine I might like Alan if he was just a guy rather than a celebrity.

Or not, since Alan noted that it was not possible to vote for anyone who wasn't a fat head--and body, too.

Oh, Alan! Are you so stupid and shallow to think appearance matters? I mean, you and I were both kids when Kennedy was elected, but I already knew the mother of a friend who voted for him because he was handsome was an idiot. You don't elect people to lead your nation because they meet Hollywood's standards.

And are you so mean-spirited that you think it's okay to mock people for their weight? I know in your line of work, that's the kiss of death to a career, whether you're Val Kilmer or Marlon Brando. But politics has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with mind and character. And I'm sorry to see that yours isn't up to my standards.

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