Free Speech Comes At A Cost

Ok, this is a follow-up to blog I did about journalism and the media, a few days ago.

The reason I am back on this topic again is because of a, much publicised, piece on, fashion magazine, Marie-Claire’s website about fat people on TV. Journalist, Maura Kelly, who wrote about whether ‘fatties should get a room’. This is someone who as a journalist, feels that she should be honest.

“I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.”

Which is brutal, but it’s the truth, to her. She is stating , not what anyone else thinks, but what she thinks. Bear in mind also, that Ms Kelly works for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world. This is a branch of society where being stick thin is the norm, and any amount of fat is deemed unacceptable. So I would imagine, if you call a size 14, fat, then you would find someone obsese mortifying.

“I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over.”

This is correct. A lot of people with weight issues, do have control and do need to take responsibility. People are advised by Doctors to lose weight, and they choose to ignore medical advice. They just point the finger of blame at someone else, a wonderful product of our culture. Also, she is saying that she believes people DO have control over what they eat. And they do, it’s a person’s decision to watch TV, rather than exercise. As someone who suffered because of an eating disorder, she changed her life around, and believes that ANYONE can change things.
We are frequently told that we are so lucky that we have free speech, and that the media is not controlled. But I believe that it never will be free. Someone stating their opinion gets slated. It’s like, ‘as long as you aren’t offending anyone, then you can say what you want’. Well, that’s opinion, it helps you understand another viewpoint, and realise we are not all cut from the same cloth. So all these people, saying that a journalist should be sacked for stating her opinion, are a disgrace. If there were more journalists in the media, who expressed themselves honesty, then the media would become something worth being interested in. But right now, you have to stick to the same rules and have the same thoughts as everyone else. And, to be honest, I hate it. I hate that no matter which newspaper you pick up, it’s all the same neutered ‘opinions’ that just written in a slightly different way.

You can argue all day with who is at fault for the article. Is it the Ms Kelly, for letting out her harsh opinions? Is it the editor, for giving a vulnerable woman such a personal issue to write about? Is it the site itself, for allowing the story to be published in that state? Is it the people who read this and got so ‘mock offended’, and spread their panic across the internet? Or, is just that too many people want to continue to bury their heads in the sand, despite the fact the fact there is truth in the article?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. And I don’t believe that Ms Kelly should have had to apologise to some overly sensitive people for her thoughts on the obesity issue. If you truly believe something you write, then show some conviction and stand by it, no matter how large the occurring witch-hunt may become.

It does show that there are parts, within our society which need looked at. The fashion industry, it’s unbelievably size-ist, and I don’t think that Ms Kelly’s opinions are the worst out there. But only by confronting the problem, can we see how  bad it really is, and even educate people from an overweight person’s perspective.

But the main disturbing thing, which came out of this article and it’s notoriety, is the pure hatred being shown towards Ms Kelly. This isn’t people who are as self-righteous as they make out. I mean, they were all taking a personal attacks on Ms Kelly, wanting her fired. This is disgusting, and it made me feel ill. At the time I read the article, there was almost 2,000 comments on it, there is probably so many more now. But almost all the comments were negative. Negative because people on the internet have no idea about a journalists expression to be truthful to oneself. Negative, because the internet is full of it. anonymous people saying that Marie Claire is terrible for allowing the piece to be published. But, are the magazine  not brave, by posting such a ‘hot’ issue, it has opened debate, and is allowing people to see something from somebody else’s perspective.

I applaud Marie Claire and Ms Kelly, because you have ‘stuck your neck out with the article’. You have given a sense of depth into a very one-dimensional field, and should be thanked for it. If people are too arrogant to understand journalism and opinions, then I believe they should just disconnect their internet and stick to their bland, opinionless, newspapers.


For the record, I am termed as overweight. I am a UK  dress size of 20, and although I am happy with me, I am aware I eat too much rubbish, and don’t exercise nearly enough. But, it is my fault, and only I can change this. And when I do, it will be on my terms.

One thought on “Free Speech Comes At A Cost

  1. The comments have now been removed, so I’ve not seen them. But given how rude and insulting Maura Kelly’s article was, the reaction was completely predictable and perhaps not undeserved. If she says to someone, “Just seeing you disgusts me,” what should she expect back? That’s not to say some of the comments might not have been a bit much, but with Kelly having made such abusive and emotion-laden statements one can hardly expect others not to be offended and reply accordingly.

    Perhaps, if I may say so, part of the problem is opening the pages of Marie Claire at all. It’s a publication that overtly obsesses about body image, surface appearance, and superficial sexuality. That, in itself, is very unhealthy, promoting a very unhealthy mindset which it claims to discourage while it fact it espouses it on every page. Why bother with Marie Claire at all when there are so many more interesting things to read in the world?

    I enjoy your blog — thanks.

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