jump to navigation

Dear NY Times: Fat People Need Clothes Too! August 12, 2009

Posted by Jae in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Dear Mr. Hoyt*,

I am writing you today in response to an article written by Cintra Wilson entitled “Playing to the Middle,” which seems to be a review of sorts of the new J.C. Penney in Manhattan.

I do not know quite where to begin with this piece.  In short, it was stunningly classist and bloated with thin priviledge and written with such a snide, holier-than-thou tone that it was practically unreadable.  Ms. Wilson’s contempt for anyone above a size eight is clear.  While Manhattan is a city of “sleek” fashions, J.C. Penney is “dowdy” and “waddling” around Manhattan.  She mocks what she perceive to be the “obese mannaquins” and remarks that she is glad her size two self isn’t really that interested in shopping there, because J.C. Penney’s dare’s to provide rack space to mid-sizes like a ten and even the very smallest of the plus sizes: a sixteen.

As a woman who wears a size 18/20, a size by the way that Ms. Wilson suggests should be happy to spend $80 on a shapeless polyster sack, I am sadly used to this sort of attitude.  I am used to hearing it in the halls of high schools out of the mouths of sixteen-year-old smart alecs and in the comments of internet postings; I am highly disappointed to find it in the Times.  Everyone deserves to have something to wear that makes them feel good about themselves, no matter if they are a size zero or a size 32.

And what I disappoints me even further, is the fact that, aside from all the fat-bashing in this article, there is a lot of class bashing too.   Even as Ms. Wilson lauds what a great development this is for those who are not, as she puts it, “stress-thin, morbidly workaholic, Pilates-tortured Manhattan ectomorphs,” she insults the clothes there are being not only fashionlesss, but implies that wearing anything from there only signals that one is, to be plain, a loser, and probably an idiot as well; her ancedote about J.C. Penny’s apparently vast discrepency with sizes in other stores ends with a dig about someone being able to wear a size medium shirt with “enough room in front for eight months of unborn twins” thinking how thin they must be to wear a medium.  Those whose budget only allows for them to shop at stores like J.C. Penny are not any dumber or any less aware of their body size than those who can spend on a blouse what most New Yorkers spend on rent.

On her personal website, Ms. Wilson posted a response where she apologized to those she had offended by claiming that she loves fat people, really, and that she really meant for this to be a positive review and she was sorry that we were too offended to see that.   I propose that someone there perhaps send her back to journalism 101.

*  If you would like to send a letter to Clark Hoyt, the Public Editor for the New York Times, you may do so here: Contact Mr. Hoyt.