Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Et tu, New York Times?

Funny--I just spent an hour on the radio talking about the stigma of being fat, and lo and behold, this incredibly mean-spirited snarky piece appears in the New York Times.

I'm happy to see that Jezebel called the Times out for this offensive story, which includes paragraphs like this one:

The petites section features a bounty of items for women nearly as wide as they are tall; the men’s Big & Tall section has shirts that could house two or three Shaquilles. And this is really, remarkably smart.

The writer, Cintra Wilson, seems unfamiliar with the concept that fat people wear clothes and spend money too.

I think this is a job for the Times' public editor, don't you? You can email Clark Hoyt at


nycivan said...

Thanks for the email address to the times. Here is the note I sent.

Mr. Hoyt,

I found Ms. Wilson's hate mongering comments about people of size offensive. Disguised as clever, these comments show Ms. Wilson's true colors as a member of the media who ignorantly buys into a mean spirited hatred of all who do not conform to her own, small minded, perception of who deserves respect and civility.

Shame on the Times for such ugliness.

Ivan Greene
New York City

Rachel said...

The link no longer appears to be working. Perhaps they got such a backlash that they took it down?

Harriet said...

It just worked for me, Rachel.

Meems said...

Um, really?

[J.C. Penny] has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on.

Admittedly, I can't remember the last time I was inside a J.C. Penny, but "plus sized" mannequins usually wear somewhere in the area of a size 10.

I also like how she "subtly" shows how superior she is for wearing the "hard to find" size 2.


Krista said...

I opted to send JCPenney's a nice note telling them that I enjoy shopping at their stores, like most of their merchandise, and so forth.

Mainly because while I can ignore the bullcrap bandied about in the New York Times, I would be heartbroken if Penney's thought the article was valid and changed their merchandise drastically.

Also, positive reinforcement is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Bitter much?

"The writer, Cintra Wilson, seems unfamiliar with the concept that fat people wear clothes and spend money too."

Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. She says Penneys are "really, remarkably smart" for marketing to fatties.

Fantine said...

Thanks for the e-mail address. Here is what I sent:

"The piece by Cintra Wilson on JC Penney was full of hate and discriminatory language. Remarks such as " has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on" are truly unnecessary in a review of a clothing store and only serve to alienate readers. Someone needs to inform Ms. Wilson (and whichever editor approved printing that sentence that oozes with revulsion and ridicule) that not everyone is a size 2, that fat people deserve to be able to buy clothing, and that not all fat people are unhealthy, just like not all thin people are unhealthy. She may wish that fat people did not exist, but we do, and her attitude is elitist, uncalled for, and insufferable. Sincerely..."

Rachel said...

Yeah, it works for me now too. Weird.

Harriet said...


Um, that's the point. Her comment that Penney's is "remarkably smart" makes her sound as though she's just discovered this for the first time. Wow! Fat people spend money! What an amazing concept!

That's not bitterness, Anon. It's ridicule. Crucial difference. :)

Harriet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

It took me a long time to find a size 2 among the racks. There are, however, abundant size 10’s, 12’s and 16’s.

Imagine the situation was reversed. Welcome to my life, Cintra Wilson.

I didn’t buy either because I can do better for $80, but if I were a size 18, I’d have rejoiced.

Wow... so, it's not good enough for the size-two woman, but the size-18 fattie would totally settle for it?

This [plus-size] niche has been almost wholly neglected on our snobby, self-obsessed little island.

And by snobby, self-obsessed little fashion writers.

Rachel said...

This is what I emailed to the following:;;;

To whom it may concern:


As both a journalist and plus-size woman who has struggled in the past with anorexia and bulimia, I am writing with disgust at the hate-laden piece penned by Cintra Wilson on J.C. Penney's line of plus-size clothing for men and women. That the Times -- whom I've always regarded as one of the most reputable and responsible news publications in print -- would allow such a hateful piece to be published is shocking and beyond the pale. Wilson suggests that fat women should "rejoice" at offerings that aren't good enough for her size-2 frame. She then goes on ad nauseum in describing plus-size mannequins -- which may very well be similar to my own body shape -- in very sizeist language, along with mean-spirited, snarky comments on the size of offerings for plus-size men and women. If Ms. Wilson had made such "clever" quips at any other demographic, I doubt the Times would have published such drivel. Why the double standard for fat people?

Ms. Wilson points out that "there are many more body types who vote with their hard-earned dollars." Guess what? We also buy newspapers. And if the Times doesn't work to make the situation right, I plan to vote with my dollars elsewhere.


Rachel Richardson

Rachel said...

Cintra Wilson simply cannot understand why fat folk are up in arms about her piece. "It is actually a positive review, believe it or not," she writes.

Offer your comments on her "positive review" here.

Bree said...

I sent an email as well. This is what I wrote:

To Whom It May Concern:

The article written by Cintra Wilson regarding JCPenney's is frankly, a piece of hateful crap. Once again, a member of the media shows their prejudice towards anyone who is over a size 6 by mocking their bodies and making assumptions about their health. She also has a scornful attitude towards those that aren't fortunate enough to be in her socio-economic status.

Ms. Wilson even goes to far as to push her anti-fat attitude on the store's mannequins, writing "To this end, it has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on." Perhaps Ms. Wilson needs an special intelligence-based epoxy injection to make her brain stay in her head, because only someone with so little intellect would write lowbrow junk like this.


Rachel said...

Nevermind about Cintra's fauxpology... It looks like she can dish it out, but she can't take it. She has now removed her "fauxpology" from her blog after receiving dozens of commenters calling her out. Instead, she thinks that this is all just "ridiculous" and that we should all just "remove the knot from [our] panties." Stay classy, Cintra.

Nan said...

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Mr. Hoyt --

Wow, I must congratulate you on the irony of this title, since the writing of this article plays to the bottom (intelligence percentile, that is).

It's not that there are no size-2 writers who can put a sentence together. I'm just saying that Cintra Wilson isn't one of them.

Sharon said...

Hey my workplace (J.C. Penneys) was mentioned.
I can confirm that they are a lot of short women looking for bigger sizes.
And I also would like to note that the bigger customers usually treat us
employees with basic human dignity more so then the thinner ones.

Anonymous said...


This has nothing to do with your post, but I have been reading your blog, and wish to ask for your advice.

Do you know of the Maudsley equivalent for people who live alone?

I am stuck in the unmitigated misery of an eating disorder. I know this, but I can't stop it. If I could choose to eat, I would.

I know this is a problem of brain chemistry. Overbearing parents certainly don't come into it - I developed the ED two years after leaving home. Hell, I can even remember the thought that started the whole thing - "Everything will be okay when I fit into that jacket."
Yeah, I'm one of the 'by controlling my food I am controlling the world' types. It is my personal belief that my ED fits into the scope of anxiety disorders - I have met people who tell themselves if they never step on a crack, or always wash their hands after going to the toilet, or never wear odd socks their worlds will stay safe and orderly.
I think I got the short straw in anxious behaviours - never wearing odd socks won't kill someone.

So, um, yeah. I'm looking for a new way to treat the old problem. Hospitals haven't helped, and when I get out I have always lost friends, lost what I was doing before I went in.

I like the idea of the Maudsley approach - but can it be done alone?

Harriet said...

Hello Anon,

You're absoloutely right--EDs do overlap hugely with anxiety disorders and with OCD. It's hard to know which came first until you are weight restored. Many people who develop EDs have a pre-existing anxiety disorder, though.

You do need help to use the Maudsley approach, but I think people can get creative about what form that help takes. If you email me offline I can try to set you up to at least talk to someone in your general vicinity who might have some ideas. My email is harriet at harrietbrown dot com.

Sharon--that's awesome. Thanks for the comment.