Last week, Brooklyn-based writer Maura Kelly blogged about the new CBS sitcom Mike and Molly, which follows a fat couple who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. Her editor at marieclaire.com had asked her a seemingly straightforward question: "Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?"
Kelly's response: fat people gross her out, losing weight is a simple process, and the overweight are universally unhealthy.
The post went live on Monday, October 25, at 9 am. Unbeknownst to Kelly and the editors of mariealaire.com, the fat-acceptance movement was about to come down on them like a ton of brick shithouses.
As a movement, fat acceptance has been growing for decades. It traces its roots back at least as far as 1967, when several hundred individuals staged a "Fat-In" in Central Park, burning diet books in protest of oppression. Today, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and a "Fatosphere" of likeminded blogs work together to gain visibility in the mainstream press.
They got a chance in February, when director Kevin Smith fought with Southwest Airlines over their seat sizes. Writing on The Daily Beast, law professor Paul Campos cited the incident as a clarion call for a "significant portion of those 150 million 'fat' adults . . . to reject the shame and stigma and abuse that is heaped on them constantly by a thinness-obsessed society."
Kelly's blog post was like a match to tinder.
The post got linked around the Fatosphere. By that Wednesday, 28,000 people had written angry letters to Marie Claire. At least 3300 people have posted replies. Gawker affiliate Jezebel dedicated eight posts to Kelly's statements, one of which earned over 100,000 page views and 1600 comments. Opponents created at least three Facebook pages denouncing her.
Then it hit the mainstream news. Outlets as diverse as the New York Daily News and theatlanticwire.com reported the incident. The scandal migrated to television. CNN did a segment about it, the ladies of The View tutted at her, and Sharon Osbourne called her a bitch.
That wasn't the end. Fat advocates took it to the streets. On Friday, irate fat people converged on the Hearst offices in New York as part of a "Big Fat Kiss-In." On her blog, the writer and fat-acceptance advocate Marjorie Ingall called the kiss-in "the start of a rad fatty Stonewall."
Now, even though the offending post is gone, fat activists are still out for blood. Comments on Kelly's Web site prove that some in the fat power aren't above schoolyard taunts as crude as Kelly's own.
No wonder you have never been in love, one commenter wrote. You are just as ugly in the outside as you are in the inside. I feel sorry for you.