Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Why does it happen that every time I attempt to read the New York Times I immediately encounter some truly outrageous piece that makes me angry? I keep asking myself why on Earth people keep insisting that it is a liberal newspaper?

Today, Maureen Dowd decided to repair her destroyed reputation and came out with a really snarky article that epitomizes fat-shaming. In her op-ed piece "Hold the Fries," she analyzes President Obama's eating habits in order to slip in her tired fat-is-bad message. The main idea of the article: when alone, Obama eats healthy, but when cameras are present he sometimes - oh, the horror, the horror! - consumes hamburgers to cater to the tastes of us, lowly fat people. She writes with reverence about how once "over a three-hour meal, he managed the impossible feat of nibbling only one French fry." The language of the quote is very telling. "Nibbling" is obviously a good thing for this journalist. You can just feel Dowd's admiration flowing. Forget about being elected as a first African-American president in history. The real feat is managing to avoid the fries.

The conclusion of Dowd's article is equally condescending: "Maybe when Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer come next week to broadcast a special on health care from inside the White House, the president should forgo the photo-op of the grease-stained bovine bag and take the TV stars out for what he really wants and America really needs: some steamed fish with a side of snap peas." See how this journalist knows exactly what we need to eat? Her disgust with "grease-stained bovine bags" is palpable. Actually, the word "grease" seems to be an important part of Dowd's vocabulary. A fast-food place for her is necessarily a "greasy spoon."

In short, the message is clear: nibbling good, eating bad. When the President "nibbles" he gets approval, when he eats more than one fry he's a self-promoting hypocrite.

Dowd must believe that without her valuable contribution there isn't enough fat-shaming in the media already. Not enough people suffer from anorexia and bulimia, not enough people hate their bodies and spend their lives looking for the next miracle diet. Let's help the dieting industry grow some more by promoting the image of a popular President as someone who "wants to stay skinny." Dowd has no interest in analyzing how and why the word "skinny" has come to be perceived as invariably positive. Obama wants to be skinny (which might not even be true), so we all should.

As we all know, there has been absolutely no proof that being "skinny" is beneficial to anybody's health. There is, however, more than enough data about the physical and psychological damage fat-shaming causes. Under the false pretense of worrying about the nation's health, Dowd's article (among many many others) causes a lot of harm and benefits no one. Except the companies that push diet pills, of course. I wonder if they thought of sending Dowd flowers. She's trying to boost their profits so hard that she definitely deserves some recognition.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you should stop reading the NY Times... :) :)

Clarissa said...

I'm like those hedgehogs who kept climbing on top of a cactus. :-)