Author: Mike Maples

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pork Chop Biscuit

Recently, Kelly Clarkson received a lot of heat about her pretty substantial weight gain in recent months. The result was a professional and positive response by Clarkson and a social media flood of reverse-fat shaming. I figured that as a person who has fallen into both the fit and fat columns (mostly the latter), I'd weigh in here.

If you're fat, you most likely know it. How you handle this knowledge is personal. For Kelly Clarkson, the response to critics of her larger size was great:
"I've just never cared what people think. It's more if I'm happy and I'm confident and feeling good. That's always been my thing. And more so now since having a family, I don't seek out any other acceptance." - Kelly Clarkson
Opinions on what obesity actually looks like varies wildly from person to person. Fortunately, the trend of rail-thin women as the model for attractiveness has fallen to the margins, replaced by the increasingly popular fascination with curvy women. However, I think that we are blurring the lines between confidence, as in one's self-confidence regardless of body image, and making excuses for unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, and more.

Most people do not know what obesity actually means, and what the parameters are. If you're going by the catcalls from the E! and Bravo TV personnel (I hesitate to call them celebrities, or even professionals at anything but being cunts), everyone is overweight or plus-sized. However, according to the CDC, obesity/being overweight is defined as "ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems." This means:

  • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
  • Here's a handy little example of obesity stats for a 5'9" adult:

    As you can see, we do have a problem with acknowledging obesity. Furthermore, we seem to be writing it all of as "fat-shaming," when there may be, in fact, legitimate concerns for an individual's health. Again, this is no one's business but the person in question, and we shouldn't be in the habit of criticizing others' weight.

    It's absolutely true; being happy with yourself is the ultimate key to overall happiness, in my opinion. And I personally don't care what musicians look like; I like their music, not their muffin tops. That's why I really like Clarkson's response. Why should I care that she's overweight? Why would anyone? The only thing that she offers the public is music, and that's all we should care about from her. Her weight is her own personal thing that she gets do decide whether or not is acceptable. Not her husband, not her kid, not her family, and certainly not her fans, get to decide whether or not her weight is an issue. If she's comfortable with herself, fuck what we think. Kudos to her.

    Conversely, I don't support the other talking-heads, celebrities, etc. who flaunt obesity as a badge of honor. Confidence in yourself is one thing, but promoting unhealthy habits as acceptable to impressionable people, especially kids, solely because "you should be happy in the skin you're in," "I'm fat and proud," etc. is a dangerous and irresponsible trend that we see a lot in media nowadays (thanks Jennifer Livingston, Lena Dunham, Adele, Mama June & Honey Boo Boo, etc.). It really is no different than the idea of "beauty" promoted by cocaine-thin runway models and the like. Other celebrities like Melissa McCarthy, whom I worship as an acutely hilarious person and role model for the planet, are pretty open about their desire to be a healthier size but are direct and honest enough to say that it is a personal desire to lose weight but in no way affects their careers, outlook on life, happiness, and the like, which would seem to be a much more productive message to send out to the world:
    “There’s so many other things to worry about. I think the kids are healthy, I’ve got a great husband and I go to work every day and do what I want. I’ll keep working on the other. I just can’t put any time to worrying about it.” - Melissa McCarthy
    McCarthy is not the only celebrity who has accepted the struggle and has moved on from the criticism received as a result of being overweight. Kirstie Alley, Kelly Osbourne, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, and more have done the same. And each has done this by acknowledging that, while being overweight may not be healthy, they are comfortable enough with it to not let it distract them from their accomplishments.

    I'm speaking about this as it relates only to celebrities, of course. Normal people like you and I can be fat and proud, but we're also not looked up to by millions. Showing people, especially young women and girls, that self-confidence is healthy is awesome and should be emphasized way more than it is. Telling people "my mama she told me don't worry about your size," is not really helpful at all (especially when that message is tucked into a terrible, albeit catchy, pop song). Your mama should have told you to disregard any comments made by others and do what you personally want to do with your body, style, etc. while understanding the ramifications of your actions as they may relate to your body.

    I must sign off now. I'm going to go finish my country-fried steak biscuit sandwich and hash-brown tots from Hardee's.

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