Monday, November 1, 2010

How Maura Kelly Made Me Cry

I have Part Two of my marriage blog ready to go.  As a matter of fact, I had it set to auto post on Wednesday when I was happily (hopefully) on my way to Dallas to watch Sid the Kid and the Penguins battle the Dallas Stars.  God Bless the Internet.  However, I'm going to push it back and divert a bit because of the controversial blog by Maura Kelly of Marie Claire.  (I won't link to it - I refuse - if you want to see it, it's still up and active, you can easily Google it.)  I think, given my experience with body image over the past decade, this is a subject I cannot delay commenting on.

Let me take you through my day:  I was already horribly mortified when I saw photos of myself in my requisite Halloween costume at work.  I swear, if I weren't clearly past child bearing age, I would have looked like I was six months pregnant.  I cannot overstate the complete and absolute mortification I had when I realized this is how I look.  I can preach body image all I want to, but the fact of the matter is I don't walk the walk.  For me, it all began when Mother had her accident.  At the time, I was pretty happy with myself.  I was happy with my size, I was exercising regularly and clothes fit comfortably.  I had a good sense of self for once.  Then she crashed her damn van, my sense of self went with it.  Exercising became spotty, I ate when and what I could, often late, and then menopause hit just to make things more interesting.  Most people know my story.  In the middle of trying to care for Mother, my oldest daughter died.  Since then I've lost a friend, two dogs and, not the least of which, my mom.  I learned years ago when my dad died:  I eat my way through grief.   The results of all of this grief is abundantly clear in the photos.  I wanted to die when I saw them.  Literally.

Struggling with the horror and loathing I felt for myself, I shuffled off to work today where my friend and co-worker asked me if I knew about the blog post by the woman from Marie Claire about the new sitcom Mike and Molly.  She explained that the blogger had blasted the lead actors as "fatties".  I did a little research, but avoided the blog itself, still managed to get righteously pissed off, made a comment on the ABC site, and then tried to set it aside and concentrate on my day.  But, a while later, my surviving daughter sent me a text that she had walked out of her psychology class where the lecture was on eating disorders.  She said she left when the presentation stated that bulimia was not life threatening.  She was right to leave.  We know better.  Her professor knows our story.  It was insulting and insensitive.

I made it through the day, but it was not a happy day.  I am uncomfortable in my own skin, upset for Marissa, and heavy - if you will - with my thoughts of the daughter I failed.

I came home to Greg working on dinner.  When I took modest portions, he questioned me.  Didn't I want more?  When I shook my head, he looked at the mass of food he had prepared for us and paused.  Then he said he should stop making so much food and wondered out loud if his insistence on large meals was a reaction to how he lost his daughter.  I said that it very likely was.

I sat down to eat my dinner, all of these thoughts bouncing around in my head and finally decided I should read the actual blog before I passed final judgment on it.  It's still there.  You can pull it up easily if you really want to.  All I can say is I could not make it all the way through it.  I have had some fucked up things said to me in the months since Kelsey died.  This ranks right up there.  I couldn't make it all the way through it.  I tried.  I really did.  It was offensive and disgusting to me.  I have no appropriate words for how completely horrified I am at this moment that a professional writer not only believes the shit she spewed, but was brazen enough to put it out on the Internet.

You may ask why I'm so upset.  I'm struggling with weight, but not obese.  Kelsey never was.  Far from it.  I have no idea what she weighed when she died - don't want to know - but I know when she left for treatment the last time her 5' 7" frame was carrying around 90 pounds.  She couldn't have been much more when she died.  But it was crap like that that she heard all her life that messed with her head.  She was terrified of being judged by people like this blogger.  She was horrified that she would be thought of as anything but thin.  She hoarded magazines like the one this woman works for.  She had countless pictures of Kate Moss in her room and on her computer.  I destroyed them all.  They helped, in their way, to destroy my daughter; it seemed fitting.

The woman who pounded out this bile is young and attractive I noticed.  Initially, I thought her post must have been written from a position of ignorance, insolence and naivete.  The thing that hurt me was that she said some things that I thought were horribly triggering to someone struggling with an eating disorder, such as, "My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country's obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it's at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny."  Then I read tonight that someone at the magazine stated that Ms. Kelly actually suffered from anorexia herself at one point.  Clearly, I say, her recovery is not complete.

I have not seen the show she commented on.  I have seen promos for it, and admittedly thought it was an interesting choice in an image conscious world.  I doubt I'll tune in as a result of all of this.  Too many options, not enough time.  Does that somehow pale my opinion of her critique of it?  Maybe.  But, I can tell you this without any doubt:  I don't need to see the show that prompted all of this to know what my reaction to her words are.  Which is that I am completely heartsick.

Some my say that I am projecting my own current self-loathing onto this woman and her blog.  If that's the case, I must really despise myself.  My sincere wish for her is that she come to learn the error of her ways, sincerely, not based on public pressure, and that she become a better person for it.  Maybe then she can use the power of word to help people shed tears of joy, not anger and sorrow.  For now, my tears are angry ones.


  1. Beautiful stated! Thank you for sharing. People have got to start realizing the power in their words! This blog was ignorant and viscious and the fact that a major publication like Marie Claire allowed this to be published is implorable! I am sorry to read what you have been through on a personal level and applaud your awesome approach to share it with others as a healing tool for yourself. You are truly inspirational.

  2. Thanks for your heartfelt post. Maura Kelly reduced me to tears as well, both in anger and disgust at her audacity and vile words, and in a strange feeling of pity for her scarred and barren inner world. She can't be a well lady, to write something like this and then let it through that inevitable moral proofreader/filter to be published.
    I hope that those she's hurt, like you and I, can find peace over this - and I also hope that she will reach out for the help she needs to reconcile this hate she's carrying round with her.

    Adding you to my daily blog rounds as well, I enjoy your style. Best of luck.

  3. Oh Cheryl.
    I have lived the last four years avoiding television, and the only time I see “women’s” magazines these days are when I visit other girls (and realize how strange I must seem to them wearing the same shoes nearly every day, and still having no idea how to put on eyeliner properly). This response, and the unseen tears are not from looking up the blog mentioned, I know I wouldn't be able to handle it, my sniffles are because you don't know how beautiful you are. Eloquence consistently fails me, but just trust that your wisdom, honesty, youth and beauty seep out of every pore, smile and glance. I know we have only been in each other’s presences twice, but you are in my heart every day. To me, the very thought of you is warm and inviting, but strongly coupled with a sense of directness and sincerity. You are beautiful.
    Every day they made us repeat, drone really, the phrase, “I am my body, and my body is beautiful. I am more than my body, and I am beautiful.” And while I hear that in my head, repeating without emotion, as if by an army of robots, I know that it is true to the extent that I need it to be. I have a few choice words for any magazine writer who threatens the self-esteem and self worth of any individual, and a few more for Marissa’s teacher. But the only words I have for you are please believe a silly girl, reading your blog religiously, when she says that you are easily one of the most beautiful people in her life.
    P.S. On a totally different note, I drove home to vote today (forgetting to get an absentee ballot) with you in mind. PA will hopefully remain a blue state for its most anticipated recruits.

  4. I find it odd that she seems to think that giving two overweight actors the job of showing two people in love is promoting obesity. Maybe it's just promoting falling in love and the stuff that goes with it. The fact that the first and only thing she seemed to think is that the network is promoting obesity by showing fat people says more about what she thinks of fat people - how deserving they are of love, attention, or the spotlight, than the network, or cast.

    I did look up the article and there has been an update - the author has apologized - profusely. But you have to wonder if it is sincere or the editors have lost too many subscriptions.