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17 March 2009

Kiss My Fat Ass, Laura Ingraham

Anyone who read this blog during the most recent election knows that I'm not a Republican. This is not an ode to Meghan McCain, about the current strife over identity and direction in the Republican Party, or even about Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham. I know little about Ms. McCain, Coulter, or Ingraham, other than that one is a famous daughter of a political family, one a cultural critic whose approach to her ideology (and reproach to those who disagree with her) is too distasteful and disrespectful for me to read, and the last I recognize in name only as a conservative media personality. I could not have told you prior to this week if Laura Ingraham opinions appeared in print, on broadcast media, or on the Internet -- or all three.

Meghan McCain recently has written on her blog on The Daily Beast criticizing Ann Coulter and the Republican Party, claiming that they are out of touch, offering little to younger voters. Laura Ingraham, taking umberage with McCain's comments did not attach her views. Rather, she commented about McCain's body size, calling her 'plus size'. McCain's response on The View yesterday: "Kiss my fat ass!"

Kudos to Ms. McCain for clearly identifying two important points: 1. personal attacks do not cultivate intentional, effective discourse; and 2. it is ridiculous to buy into the current unrealistic media images regarding body size. McCain is a size 8 - 10.

To attack McCain's appearance because her opinions differ is unbelievable for someone with a national audience -- or anywhere. What does one's appearance have with one's capabilities? Nothing! Ingraham, continuing her childish spat with McCain today, called her a idiot and a pawn of the liberal media. Unable to sustain her comments from a few days ago, and apparently unable to counter McCain's comments about the failure of the Republican Party to attract young voters, Ingraham continued her ad hominem attack on McCain. She has not moved forward any sort of reasonable debate with McCain and others who have criticized the Republican Party. It would appear that she doesn't care too. Perhaps Ingraham has unwittingly proved McCain's point of why some conservatives are out of touch.

That Ingraham would even suggest that McCain's weight has any bearing on her opinions, her writing, or her capability to comment on current political or cultural events is so beyond the pale of acceptable debate. One's weight should not have any bearing on one's professional capabilities. Haven't women been fighting this type of thing for years - that women must conform to certain stereotypical ideals in order to be acceptable? Had a man said what Ingraham said, he would have been vilified, perhaps asked to resign from his job (cf: Don Imus). In most workplaces, a man would have been fired if his opinions of a women's appearance were made known.

Yet, women often put up with this. We are barraged by unreasonable, unrealistic images of what we are 'suppose' to look like and are considered failures if we don't. As someone who works in a young company, I am one of the 'older' people in the office (I'm in my late 40's). Rarely is anything said about men in my office -- most of them much younger than me -- having gray hair. While nobody has said anything discriminatory to me regarding my quickly silvering hair, I have had many women ask me why I don't dye it. "Aren't you afraid what people will think?" "Will you dye it if you have to look for a new job?" "People will think that you don't care what you look like."

What? I'm always neatly clothed, even for a work environment that is jeans and tee shirts, wear makeup in the office, have nicely styled hair. How could anyone think that I didn't care about my appearance?

Like gray hair, weight is an issue. I've heard comments from men who have had beer bellies for 10 years and hair growing out of their ears regarding women who have a bit too much weight on their backsides, or heavy legs, or flabby arms. And we let them get away with it. We don't stand up against it. We do it to ourselves.

Women shouldn't put up with anyone verbalizing these ideas. We especially can't let other women do it. We can't perpetuate these weight-obsessed images with negative comments about how we look. We need to fight back for ourselves and our daughters -- size 8 is nowhere near a 'plus size'. And is it necessary to call any size a 'plus'? Being healthy and accepting of one's body type -- whatever it may be: curvy, slender, buxom, athletic -- is what we should celebrate. Not adhering to some unhealthy media image is the right thing to do.

Join me in echoing Meghan McCain's retort to Laura Ingraham, telling all who think that it is funny, snarky, or a legitimate response to disagreement to suggest that one's capabilities are determined by the size of one's skirt: KISS MY FAT ASS.

You can read Meghan McCain's response to Ingraham here.

10 comments:

Emily Barton said...

I don't know, but it seems to me Republicans resort much more to personal attacks (having no idea what it means to debate). Oh, and BTW, has anyone noticed that Rush Limbaugh isn't exactly what anyone would call a "stick figure?" So, if size has anything to do with it, then maybe he should be ignored. Meanwhile, you have silvering hair? Seriously, I never noticed. And you're a "plus size?" Really, all I saw was a beautiful smile attached to an extremely warm and interesting mind (at least, that's what I remember when I think of our wonderful day in NY together).

Charlotte said...

Great post. I don't know much about the context, but it enrages me that women's bodies should be perceived to have anything to do with their ability to function in the world (the stuff that was said about Hillary Clinton during her campaign was hideous).

And I am 40 and DELIBERATELY not dying my fast greying hair, because I want to upturn stereotypes in my own little way. Why can't I be grey? I like it that way. And anyone who doesn't like it can kiss MY fat ass.

Courtney said...

I really enjoyed this post - and thanks for catching me up on the world happening outside of the farm I'm currently spending time on! I have to say Ms. McCain has really impressed me with her responses, and it's nice to have someone to admire in a party I generally don't.

Cam said...

Emily - I'm not so sure that the name-calling is limited to the Republicans, but I do think that their campaigns were much more mean-spirited during the last election. It is something that I don't get and one of the things that attracted me to the Obama campaign. We need much more civil discourse in our world.

Also, my hair has changed quite a bit since I saw you in November, reaching something of a critical mass of silver that is now noticable. I've received many complements on it which thrills me. Even my mother who rarely likes anyone's hair has said she likes it!

Charlotte -- I am doing the same wiht regard to my hair. I've dyed it for 30 years and decided last year to stop for many reasons, but, like you, one was to turn those sterotypes in my own way. My hair is also heathier than it has been in years! I love it.

Courtney - I've been impressed by her responses too. She gave a great interview on the Rachel Maddow show. Not many conservatives are willing to appear on Maddow. Kudos to McCain for wanting tolerant, civil debate and for standing up to those who have a soapbox but are using it to slam others rather than debate.

Video of McCain's interview on The View is multiple places on the web. I found link on Huff Post.

bloglily said...

Good for Meghan McCain.

I keep thinking there will be a critical mass (ha!) of opinion on this issue, but I've yet to see it. Michelle Obama is, apparently, all about her arms, for example. Sigh.

Cam said...

Yes, Bloglily, I thought about Michele Obama's arms as I was writing this post. On one hand, it reminds me of how media commented on Jackie Kennedy's wardrobe choices (I heard my aunt remark for years about Jackie O not wearing nylons to church!), but there is also something about body image to the Michele Obama story. While celebrating her inshape physique, there is also something that seems inherently sexist about it. If we had a woman president, would there be lots of comments about her husband's biceps? I don't think so, at least not in mainstream media, nor to the extent of the fascination with Ms. Obama's upper arms. I think that is part of the problem -- as a culture we glorify a very limited and specific ideal which excludes all others. I'm not saying that we should honor the unhealthy and obese (though criticism needs to be appropriate and not directed at a person), but we don't recognize that there are wide ranges of healthy body types and body images. The result is that we don't so much encourage healthy body weight, size and muscle mass as we do discourage it by pressuring women to be something that their bodies are not intended to be. I'll never be tall and without cosmetic surgery (which I see no need for) will never have a different nose or average-sized bust, no matter what my weight or my body fat/muscle ratio. Meghan McCain made the same point on The View when she said that her mother was constantly criticised for being too thin. We make it so that we can't win. Unless we say KISS MY FAT ASS more often to these disturbing images and ideals, and stop criticising other women and our own perceived shortcomings, we are complicit in perpetuating those ideals.

jenclair said...

I just went to read the article and am impressed with Ms. McCain's response. What a shame that so many supposedly intelligent individuals believe it is appropriate to resort to such personal attacks and shame on Ingraham for going for the least common denominator.

(un)relaxeddad said...

She does seem to be taking after the more admirable things about her father! I read about that a couple of days ago and I loved Ms McCain's response.

Kay said...

Hear! Hear! Over here in NZ we wouldn't make personal remarks like that (on someone's appearance, such as you've had made to you on your greying hair) to the person's face - only behind their backs, unfortunately. As for politics, well it's no holds barred over here as well. Americans tho' on the whole appear to be so much more confrontational and direct than we are - which I think is probably healthier in the long run. But appearances also seem to be rated very highly in America. 'You're In or You're Out' depending on appearance; white teeth, big hair, the 'right' shape and size; happens a lot more in USA than other countries - or so it appears to me from over here anyway. :) I'm glad you are someone who goes against the current and doesn't buy into it. Kudos to you Cam! Grey hair rocks!!!

Lisa Krempasky said...

I agree both that we should have more intelliget discourse on both sides and that the media in general presents unrealistic body size images.