March 16, 2009 by 8junebugs
There’s a minor skirmish going around the interwebs about conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham’s comments about Meghan McCain’s weight. If you haven’t heard of or about Meghan McCain (and I hadn’t, until last week), she’s John McCain’s daughter and a blogger at the Daily Beast. She cut her teeth blogging on her dad’s campaign.
Last week, I quietly applauded Ms. McCain for (a) having the courage to go on Rachel Maddow’s show (they can’t get many conservatives to come on), (b) being a young Republican in an unfriendly political environment, and (c) approaching politics respectfully and openly. I was completely charmed, especially when Maddow asked her about the bailouts and the economy and she said, roughly, “You know, I really don’t understand all the details. I read a lot and I’m trying to understand economics better, but I try not to comment on things I don’t understand.”
Amen to that. She’s young and she knows she’s still learning, and she’s not afraid to say it.
I also thought, “Aw, she’s beautiful. Also curvy. Oh, damn…I hope no one calls her fat after this interview.”
And so “they” have. She has responded with more grace than I might muster. I hope her comfort in her healthy curves continues.
I have a problem with on so many levels that I’m having a hard time knowing where to start.
First, ad hominem attacks are a waste of airtime. I sincerely believe that the Republicans would have had a better shot in the 2008 election if they’d had a substantive alternative to Obama’s platform. When they (and I mean the pundits as much — or more than — the campaign proper) couldn’t find fault with Obama’s plans, they tried desperately to find fault with his person.
And the few who could find fault couldn’t get the headlines. “OMG HE’S A MUSLIM” pulls more hits, and more hits = more advertising. Hooray!
If Ingraham really believes that Ms. McCain is just “a valley girl gone awry,” why encourage high-school-hallway behavior? Seems counterproductive to me. If you want her to rise to the level of talk radio punditry (har!), engage her in a conversation at that level. If you were watching Maddow’s show, you’d know she’s perfectly capable of it.
Second, a suggestion for the GOP: This is your future. There aren’t a lot of young Republicans out there these days — listen to the ones you have. They are more valuable to you, in the long run, than Limbaugh. Grow in the direction of the younger generation that will carry you forward, or you’ll spend the next election cycle wishing you had.
Second-and-a-half: For crying out loud, people, she’s 24. She’s exploring the world and learning and developing her beliefs. She’s not a threat, unless you’re a washed-up talk radio harpy. She’s not advocating violence or treason (as opposed to Chuck Norris). She’s trying to have a conversation. So let her have it — what are you afraid of? Would you rather be the party of conflict than of curiosity and compromise?
Third, I desperately hope we’re moving toward a society that cares more about health and wellness than sizes and scales. There are “fat” people who run marathons and “skinny” people who sit on the couch and eat Doritos. According American expectations, I’ve been overweight since about the fourth grade. The slimmest I’ve ever been since then was probably The Dumb Year, and I wouldn’t advocate that as a long-term lifestyle (thank god for an early-20s metabolism, am I right?). At my fittest, when I was working out five days a week and getting frequent compliments, I still weighed 175 pounds.
I’m curvy. I will always be curvy. Even at that slimmest point? Still curvy. Genetically, I take after the curvier side of the family…even the skinniest of us still have “child-bearing hips.” When it comes to my overall fat-ness, I try pretty hard to care less about the numbers on a scale than about the following things:
Am I eating when I’m not hungry? Why?
If I am, there’s probably a bigger problem. I’m at my current size (which I like to think of as the far side of voluptuous) because I deliberately gave myself a month-long pass after Mom died in November. Yes, really. Not a pass to stuff my face with every brownie and cookie offered, but a pass on being less mindful about the eating than usual. I figured I had enough to worry about, but was still committed to not sabotaging my own health to deal with the grief.
Do I generally feel healthy? Am I getting sick a lot?
I haven’t gotten legitimately sick in a long time. I’m getting more rest and I’m happier — I haven’t had a proper cold or flu in about a year. I’m able to do the 10-mile training walks at a good clip and carry on a conversation without too much huffing and puffing. Generally, I feel pretty good.
Does the way I look make me feel bad about myself?
Most of the time, I’m pretty confident. I’ve been going through a lot of old photos and getting a little wistful about my fit (though still curvy) 18-year-old self, but I’m much happier working toward a consistent level of health than I am working toward an arbitrary dress size.
Note: Being in love with someone who thinks I’m beautiful inside and out doesn’t hurt, either. I highly recommend it.
So I applaud Ms. McCain’s confidence in her appearance in spite of the criticism, assuming she’s as healthy as she seems to be. I hope we take the lesson to heart instead of continuing the playground Point-at-the-“Fat”-Girl game.