Bless her heart, my mother is subjected to all my rantings, however delusional they may be, and she always listens patiently. I remember telling her once that I honestly felt that no matter what I accomplished in my life, nothing would ever matter as much as losing weight and becoming thin. Nothing else would matter to society, of course, not to myself. She assured me that this is absurd, that I have a lot to be proud of. While I do believe her, there is something about society that seems to judge heavier women by their appearance only, despite their successes.
I was reminded of feeling this way at times last week after the presidential debate (don’t worry, I’m not going to get all political on ya). Candy Crowley, the host of the debate, was unfairly criticized, in my opinion, because she’s a plus-size woman. Several people I know commented on her appearance as if that was the news for the night, not the debate between Obama and Romney.
This angered me to no end. This woman is an award-winning political correspondent for CNN. She has worked as a journalist for decades. Under her curves, she has a brain.
I read an article in the New York Times last week called “Women on TV Step Off the Scale.” In the article, the author Alessandra Stanley writes:
“Self-acceptance has become a new form of defiance on television, especially among younger female comedians. Partly that’s because it’s refreshingly unusual. There’s little comic shock value left in profanity, obscenity or intolerance, but it’s still quite rare and surprising to see a woman not obsess about her waistline.”
The article gives examples such as Rebel Wilson, the hilarious roommate in “Bridesmaids” who also stars in “Pitch Perfect,” in which she famously says to two thinner, college classmates who want to know why she calls herself “Fat Amy”: “Yeah, so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back.”
The author also mentions one of my favorite comedians, Mindy Kaling, who wrote in her book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) — which you should read if you haven’t:
“Since I am not model skinny, but also not superfat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall in that nebulous ‘normal American woman’ size that legions of fashion stylists detest … Many stylists hate that size, because I think, to them, it shows that I lack the discipline to be an ascetic or the confident sassy abandon to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like: ‘Pick a lane!’ ”
It’s crazy to me that we have to fall under these certain umbrellas. That we have to fit neatly into categories. I’m trying to love my body at the size I’m at because I’ve only got this one body, so there’s no reason to hate it. But at the same time I’m trying to improve my body by eating well and exercising, not because I want to fit into society’s definition of “normal” or “acceptable,” but because I want to shop in more stores, I want to run faster and longer distances, I want to put on a bathing suit and not critique every single bump or lump that I see. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin for myself, not for society.
But none of this changes the fact that no matter what type of body I have — I have a brain! I have degrees that I worked hard for and a job I’m proud of. I have opinions about politics and social issues. I like to read books and discuss them with friends. None of this has any bearing on my size or my appearance.
We all judge other people by their appearance, which is sad. It’s something I’d like to try harder not to do because I know these are snap judgments and not based in fact. So the next time you focus in on someone’s weight or face or hair, try to remember that that person has a brain. And feelings. ‘Cause under my curves, there’s more to me than what you see.
How do you feel about the things people said about Candy Crowley? Do you ever feel like your accomplishments are diminished by your outward appearance?