Friday, November 05, 2010

To Maura Kelly and Marie Claire: I'm Fat. Deal With It!

Sculpture by Cindy Koh
As usual, I am late to the party – 12 days late to be exact. But that tends to happen when I’m hustling to finish edits on a book and have my nose stuck deep into due diligence at the office.

Just today I learned about Maura Kelly’s inflammatory blog at Marie Claire about fat people. Seems she was asked by her editor to comment about whether or not seeing fat people make-out on TV made people in general feel uncomfortable, and was given the new TV show Mike and Molly as her example. What followed was a hateful, shockingly ignorant and poorly written diatribe against fat people, even though Ms. Kelly had never seen the show in question.

I’ve been bullied most of my life about my weight, which started climbing when I was around 8 years old. I remember being followed home from school by classmates while they taunted me with “fatty, fatty, two by four” and “Chubby Checker,” all the while kicking me in the back of my legs. My mother went to the school to try and stop it, but it only made it worse.

Such bullying continued all through elementary, junior high and high school. I remember for awhile in high school, boys used to lay in wait for me at the top of the staircase and as I walked up would hock up big wads of spit and rain it down on me. When I went to the school office to complain, the adults helped me get the gobs of mucus out of my long hair and told me to go to class a different way. The creeps found me and continued until they got bored or found someone else to torment.

Looking back, I wasn’t even very large at that time in my life. Certainly plump, but by no means morbidly obese. (Truth is, I’d kill to weigh now what I weighed then.) But it was the 60’s and the Twiggy waif-pre-pubescent boy look was in, along with hip-huggers and the birth of the mini-skirt. It didn’t help that I was a loner, from a broken home (which wasn’t the norm in those days) and from a lower economic level. But it was my size that initiated the attacks and name-calling.

When I was around 15, I was taken to a weight specialist and put on diet pills. I quickly lost 20-25 lbs and for a short while was thin enough that you could cut yourself on my collar bone. Unfortunately, the pills turned out to be prescription speed. I was so hyped up, the doctor had to give me sedatives to counteract the diet pills. I ended up in the hospital emergency room and remember the doctor lecturing my mother soundly for turning me into a junkie. Fortunately, I wasn’t addicted to the pills and as soon as they were out of my system I was healthy again … and gaining my weight back.

Is it any wonder my first suicide attempt was at 16 years of age. Trust me, teen suicides over bullying are nothing new.

The remarks, the bullying, the looks of disgust have continued throughout the years and I have memorialized some of them in my Odelia Grey novels. As I got older, they lessened. Seems when you become middle-aged, the bullies decide you aren’t worth their time. Or maybe you become so toughened up, they sense you might take them out if they say anything.

When I read the Maura Kelly fat-rant blog the first time, my head nearly exploded. Then I felt sad for Ms. Kelly. She admits to having her own body issues and anorexia and it obviously taints her judgment. Her own self-loathing has turned her into a nasty bitch with no sense of decency and a bad case of projecting her personal issues onto others. She did “apologize” kind of, sort of, but it was obvious she didn’t feel one bit sorry for her hateful words. If anything, the “apology” seemed like continued arrogance, just wrapped in different words.

If Ms. Kelly had posted her ugly words on a personal blog, I would have written it off as her personal opinion, which she has a right to, and formed my own opinion of her – that she’s an unhappy asshole. But the fact that she put it on the blog of Marie Claire, a national magazine for women, which claims to embrace ALL women, is the real hate crime here, and that crime was perpetrated by that magazine.

Don’t for one minute, Marie Claire, tell me no one saw that blog entry before it was posted. And don’t for one minute try to peddle your fair and equal handling of all women/all people. That ship has sailed and it sailed with a steel drum band and streamers.

My name is Sue Ann Jaffarian. I am fat. I kiss men and have sex, and that makes me Maura Kelly’s and Marie Claire’s worst fears come to life.

I rather enjoy that...

11/6/10 - Last night when I wrote the above blog, I felt I'd gotten a lot off my chest.  But a funny thing happened this morning when I woke up. I felt free and empowered, like I had taken back my life.  I live a very busy life and sometimes all the activity, deadlines and demands bring about a kind of robotic malaise. Reading the bullshit Marie Claire and Maura Kelly are shoveling brought me out of that, and so I must thank them for shaking me up and awakening the warrior in me - the beautiful, sexy, intelligent warrior queen. - saj


Doug's Girl said...

AMEN, sister!!!! :o)

Mz Lil said...

Sue Ann I have the pleasure of knowing you personally and never knowing your struggle makes me love you more than I did before. You are a strong, beautiful woman and I admire you for everything I knew about you then and now. Thank you for sharing your story and struggle. We need more people like you to call attention to bitter unhappy assholes that are so uncomfortable in their own skin they need to bring negative attention to others that they themselves cannot understand.

Sadie :)

Diana said...

You are beautiful inside and out, and I'm pleased to be able to call you a friend. You are one tough lady for sharing this and standing up to the idiotic Maura Kellys of the world. Go Sue Ann!!

Mark said...

Mike and Molly makes me uncomfortable (at least the few minutes I have watched). There I said it. But it has nothing to do with the size of the actors and more to do with the fact that I find it painfully unfunny.

I was not aware of your struggles, although they don't surprise me. I was miserable by the end of 3rd grade and had no reason to be picked on other than I reacted well to it, so they were encouraged to continue on. As you said, bullying is truly nothing new.

But you are an inspiration. How? You see something you want and set out to get it. But it mud runs or 3 books a year. That kind of determination is wonderful. Now, if only I could decide what I want to do so I can persue it as determinedly as you do.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Mark, I also don't care for the show Mike and Molly, and for the same reasons you don't - it's simply not that funny. It strikes me as being one note and dummied down. More to do with the writing than the actors, who are actually charming even though they are in a very dull show.

Karen MacInerney said...

Wow. What an amazing piece; it tears my heart out to think of you having to go through all of that as an innocent child, with no one to protect you. Knowing you -- so cheerful and motivated and self-confident and gorgeous and ready to take on anything in life -- I never would have guessed the gauntlet you've had to go through, although living in our culture, I probably should have. All of us women struggle with the prevailing beauty myth in our own ways -- but what you experienced was a travesty, and should never EVER be allowed to happen to a child -- much less an adult. Kudos for such a brave post. And I'm so glad you survived it all.

Lynne DeVenny said...

God, I love you, Sue Ann. I was totally bullied throughout school - but for totally different reasons - being a very unattractive geek. Sometimes I can still see her in the mirror, and I'm almost 50. I saw the fallout over that damned Marie Claire post, and thought, "How dare you say that about *anyone*; you're just mean, miserable and superficial, but God loves you anyway, you jerk."

Samantha Gee said...

Thank you, Sue Ann! I am totally non-confrontational, probably from fear and not wanting to draw any more attention to myself. But the next time I need to stand up for myself, I'm going to channel my "inner Sue Ann"!


Candice said...


Thank you so much for your words, your heart felt thoughts and personal experiences.

Life is difficult on its own, but add a bit of (or a lot of) bullying or judgement and it becomes a monumental struggle.

Fat or thin, every woman deserves respect, love and happiness. And, the fact that this disgusting viciousness was spewed by a woman and a magazine for women, makes it all the more dispicable.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you!


Shirley said...

Sue Ann,
I was stunned to read about what happened to you as a child and teenager - and saddened by it as well. I just want you to know that you are absolutely the right size to be a wonderful friend. Doug & I consider ourselves so fortunate to know you.

You are our "beautiful, sexy, intelligent warrior queen" and always will be!

Аlena said...

Please, don't get so much upset by that article. That's what I advised everyone in my video You are are wonderful person and should let yourself down just so someone could have some traffic profit!

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