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February 23, 2011

Stop Calling Michelle Obama Fat!

I've pretty much had it with people ragging on Michelle Obama. I really have. I'm just getting really pissed off at some of the ridiculous criticism people have been flinging at her lately, and more so, the potential effects that this most recent kind of criticism may have...

As most of you may already know, First Lady Michelle Obama recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her "Let's Move" program aimed at solving the problem of childhood obesity. It's hard to imagine that anyone could be against the idea of getting kids to eat healthier and exercise more, but of course some people actually are...

Sarah Palin (the queen of saying things so mind-numbingly-stupid that you almost have to wonder if we're all just being punked) has repeatedly made statements against the program, proving only that she completely doesn't understand the program at all. For example, she claims that Mrs. Obama doesn't "trust parents to make decisions for their own children" and claimed that Obama has said "we should not have dessert". Funny that it's not okay for Obama to urge for healthy eating and exercise, but it was okay for Palin to do so in 2009.

She also joked that Obama supports breastfeeding (something Palin also did in 2007) because "the price of milk is so high".  Michelle Malkin took the breastfeeding 'debate' even further, suggesting that Obama wants to take infant formula away from poor mothers. (Oh, suddenly Malkin cares about "poor mothers"?)

It was even suggested that the "Let's Move" campaign might be responsible for an increase in pedestrian accidents. But now a new line of "criticism" has opened up, focusing on Michelle Obama's weight... and it's just not okay.

From Rush Limbaugh's radio show (2/21/2011):
I'm sure you're aware that nutritionist-at-large Michelle Obama is urging, demanding, advocating, requiring what everybody can and can't eat. She is demanding that everybody basically eat cardboard and tofu. No calories, no fat, no nothing -- gotta stop obesity. Except as in the case of all leftists, that's true for you, but not for them.
Michelle My Belle, minus the husband, took the kids out to Vail on a ski vacation, and they were spotted eating and they were feasting on ribs, ribs that were 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat per serving. Now I'm sure some of you members of the new castrati: "This is typical of what you do Mr. Limbaugh, you take an isolated, once in a lifetime experience, and try to say that she's a hypocrite." She is a hypocrite. Leaders are supposed to be leaders. If we're supposed to go out and eat nothing -- if we're supposed to eat roots, and berries and tree bark and so show us how. And if it's supposed to make us fit, if it's supposed to make us healthier, show us how.
The problem is -- and dare I say this -- it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice. And then we hear that she's out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving, yeah it does -- what do you mean, what do I mean?
What is it - no, I'm trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you. I mean, women are under constant pressure to look lithe, and Michelle My Belle is out there saying if you eat the roots and tree bark and the berries and all this cardboard stuff you will live longer, be healthier and you won't be obese. Okay, fine, show us.
Haven't seen any evidence here if that advice is being followed that it works, that's all. It's just, look it folks, leaders lead. They can sit up there, they  demand we do this and demand we do this and demand we do that, but show us. Poor kids are living in food deserts, parents are unemployed, kids got no place to go other than the mall, hang around for scraps at the Orange Julius place, maybe get some papaya juice out there, and then they hear about Michelle My Belle and the kids 1,500 calories per rib serving -- 141 grams of fat, I'm just saying. Mom and dad unemployed, kids in the food court hoping for some drips of papaya juice and there they are eating ribs, skiing in Vail.  [Transcription and Audio, courtesy of Media Matters, emphasis ours]
Now, first of all, there's a lot wrong with what he said - factually. Obama is not "demanding" that anyone do anything and she's certainly not suggesting that people eat "no calories, no fat, no nothing" or "roots and berries and tree bark". Yet again, a gross misunderstanding of what the "Let's Move" program is actually about. Obama has said time and time again that it's not about depriving yourself of the foods you love, but about eating them in moderation (and making healthier decisions for other meals, etc.).

But what he said goes way beyond factual inaccuracies... 

No, Michelle Obama does not look like a swimsuit model, but neither do most of the women in the world. (Even actual swimsuit models don't really look like that!) He apparently fails to grasp the concept that there's a wide spectrum of sizes and shapes that falls in between obesity and the so-called "lithe" and "fit" he describes.  The fact that Michelle Obama isn't a size zero does not make her a hypocrite and it certainly does not mean that the "Let's Move" program doesn't have an array of health benefits.

It's misleading - and potentially dangerous - to suggest that looking like a swimsuit model and "liv[ing] longer, be[ing] healthier" are automatically synonymous. They are not. For many women, to look like the average swimsuit model, they would be at a dangerously unhealthy weight for their body types.

Suggesting that Obama's campaign is about looking like a swimsuit model is a really dangerous implication to make... It's estimated that 8 million Americans (the vast majority of them women between the age of 12 and 25) have an eating disorder of some kind and Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. "Let's Move" is not about looking thin; it's about getting healthy. Yes, women are "under constant pressure to look lithe" and Limbaugh's comments can only make that worse.

It's also detrimental to little girls who may view Michelle Obama as a role model to see her judged based on her looks instead of what's really important. Kids are learning that lesson every day - that you have to be beautiful/thin/white/______ to matter and do something important. We don't need to let talk about Obama's weight take away from the weight of what she's doing.

I also resent the implication that Michelle Obama doesn't look good. No, she may not look like a swimsuit model (like we said, who does? And why is that the epitome of beauty anyway?) but she looks pretty damn great - especially for a woman in her late forties.

And is Rush Limbaugh really in a position to call anyone a hypocrite for not being thin? I mean, really. He's hardly a swimsuit model himself (and looks nothing like the aforementioned A-Rod) and is hardly a great example of health.

The Obamas are in way better shape that this former-drug addict could ever hope to be. He must think he's the hottest man on earth the way he continuously insults women based on their appearances (he even made fun of Obama's fashion sense, really?)

I think it's time to bring back this old favorite...

But Limbaugh isn't alone... Andrew Breitbart's website recently featured a cartoon mocking Michelle Obama's weight and eating habits:

Can we just fucking stop this already? This woman is not fat and I don't care how many cheeseburgers or ribs she eats... she's still a hell of a lot healthier than most of the people in the U.S.

Even if she was a hypocrite and didn't follow her own "Let's Move" advice... that still wouldn't make it bad advice.


colinday said...

As far as I'm concerned, Mrs Obama can model anything she wants!

Anonymous said...

the Obamas were skiing! it burns a ton of callories. As far as I'm concerned you can eat what ever you want after skiing all morning or day!