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Meghan McCain Says Criticizing Women's Weight Is a Socially Acceptable Prejudice

Speak Up: Do You Agree With Meghan McCain About Women's Weight?

Her dad's presidential bid is over, but blogger and aspiring pundit Meghan McCain is still speaking her mind, and this time, it's got nothing to do with politics. McCain recently wrote a piece for The Daily Beast criticizing the never-ending criticism of women's bodies in the media. She wonders why, after all the progress women have made in the past few decades, is women's weight still a "socially acceptable prejudice"?

McCain, who wears an 8 or a 10, was prompted to write the piece after talk-radio host Laura Ingraham made fun of McCain's "plus-size" body. The senator's daughter used the opportunity to question why women's weight is even part of the political and cultural discussion:

Everyone from Jessica Simpson to Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey, and Hillary Clinton has fallen victim to this type of image-oriented bullying. . . . After Kelly Clarkson’s recent appearance on American Idol, the first commentary I read on the Internet was about her weight gain instead of her singing.

What do you think of McCain's point? Do you agree that women's weight is one of the last socially acceptable forms of prejudice? Or do you think she is overreacting? Should we keep healthy weight in the forefront of our dialogue?


Join The Conversation
burnsrunner burnsrunner 8 years
Gotta love it! Women should be encouraged and praised for their bodies of all sizes. I don't have a perfect body, and I was always so stressed about what I ate, what I looked like. I read, "Health at Every Size," by Linda Bacon. It really helped me to see my body/food in a whole new light. I’m proud to say that I’m off the diet rollercoaster now and truly enjoying food!
Westopher Westopher 8 years
Syako you make a very good point but I disagree somewhat. Yes Laura has a radio show, however she is an individual giving her personal opinions {not a reporter but a political commentator} so I take her comments as an individual celebrity. If the nightly news did a segment on how fat Meghan is, then I would say "the media" is attacking her. That's why I feel in this specific case it's woman vs. woman -- and then reported by the media because it's sensational {I'm not saying the media is innocent, here}. I can see where that leads you to believe it "goes all ways" as you say
superfoxml superfoxml 8 years
I am SO irate that news articles (REPUTABLE news sources) state that Meghan McCain is 'big boned'. OMG! She is gorgeous. I'm a hardcore Obama supporter but I am TOTALLY in support of Ms. McCain. Good for her for speaking out. What the F is going on if we call her fat. Grrrrr.....
sham28 sham28 8 years
Sure it's insightful. I like that there's been a positive swing in favor of a 'normal' weight as opposed to deathy anorexia. But I had a hard time saying that Jessica Simpson looked super fab. If she was strong and fit, the larger figure would have been undeniably healthy. But she looked overweight and like she wasn't fit. I'm sure I won't be popular in this, but I want to support fitness, not excess weight that just sits on you, and isn't muscle. She did not look 'in shape' to me. But I certainly wouldn't badger anyone about their weight, I thought it was supremely messed up how mean people were.
Vsugar Vsugar 8 years
I think the key word in this discussion about weight is "healthy". I think this absurd thing about appreciating "big" women's bodies needs to end - someone who is a size 12 or size 14 can still be extremely fit and healthy, and curvy women and plump women can be and are beautiful and sexy beasts. If you are a size 22, you are morbidly obese and approaching an early grave, and I'm sorry, but being that big is NOT beautiful, it's not sexy, it's not womanly - it's a by-product of pouring junk that is killing you into your body. Likewise, someone who is very thin - a size 4 or a size 2 (depending on how lightly built and short you are) can still look healthy and fit and well. If you are 5'10' and a size zero, and your bones are sticking out and you aren't menstruating, and your hair is thinning, you are sick and need help, and there is nothing about your body that is beautiful. I agree that we need, as a culture, to broaden our idea of what is a beautiful, fit body to include women larger than a size 6, and Laura Ingraham can go you-know-what herself. But I think that people who "celebrate" really REALLY big women are doing as much damage as people who think anorexic is the physical ideal women should aspire to. And the thing with Jessica Simpson is that, even though she is still well within a healthy and normal weight, it seems like she's gained a lot of weight in a very short amount of time, so I think our instincts tell us that she's ALL OF A SUDDEN not eating right, not exercising, and maybe generally not taking care of herself - I don't know if that's TRUE, but that's how it makes me feel when I see photos of her.
blade87 blade87 8 years
The constant barrage over who weighs what, who eats what and so on is yet another portal to an age old issue: who will control these female bodies? Obviously if left to their own devices, goes the subtext, women will destroy civilization if some entity doesn't exert control over their: faces, hair, sexuality, fertility, education, and yes, their weight. Be it the church, the elders, the government, the media, it
syako syako 8 years
Well in this case, it was Laura Ingraham who is a member of the "media" and who does have a national radio show and appears on a cable news channel. And also, the "media" choose to publish these stories/reports/blog posts/comments etc. for all to see. If none of them had written about Laura's criticism, Meghan probably would have never known about it. So it goes all ways, actually.
Westopher Westopher 8 years
People keep saying "the media" this and that...but for the most part "the media" are not making snarky comments about's mean spirited bloggers & commenters {anyone with a keyboard, basically...not pros}, and individual celebrities make these comments. The media itself reflects what PEOPLE are saying and therefore I think we should stop using "the media" as a blanket term as though "they" are out to get "us." It's woman vs. woman in this case, plain and simple...THAT is the real issue.
annebreal annebreal 8 years
On lostandfound and syako's point, I totally agree. Laura Ingrahm was responding to Meghan's criticism of Ann Coulter by basically being a Coulter clone - going off-topic and attacking the person, not their argument. As a writer, it's petty to say "Oh yeah? Well, you're a fat Valley Girl," like Ingrahm did. These are people that can't stand on their own two feet intellectually so they resort to creating controversy by personal attacks. And you can't exercise away stupidity.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i definitely think that it's a problem that we're forced to deal with, but i'm not sure if it's really necessary for her to be the one to speak out about it. it's a shame that folks consider 8 or 10 to be 'plus size' and then choose to focus on that rather than for the abilities or talent that someone has. i have a feeling though that it's one of those things that's just not going to change. either someone's TOO skinny or TOO fat, one's ever happy.
syako syako 8 years
If you read Meghan's blog she also points out that her mother, Cindy McCain, was also criticized by the media for being too thin. It's so sad that Laura Ingraham felt the need to be so petty as to say something as terrible as that. That woman has to be in her late 40s or 50s and the fact that she's acting like a 15 year old is disgusting. Good for Meghan for speaking up and speaking out!
lostandfound lostandfound 8 years
TLSGIRL wrote: "I think she's right in this case, because she's talking about women who are healthy but not super-thin. Unhealthily obese would probably prompt a different reaction from me." I don't get this. Meghan's appears to be starting a career in political punditry. She's talking about how someone retorted her politics with "Well, she's fat, LOLZ, so who cares?" (I mean, she's not modelling bikinis for a living, so why should her body ever be relevant to her job?) So, it feels like by saying this you believe it's okay to undermine a woman's educated and informed opinion by making a joke about her weight and appearance as long as she is fat enough to reeeally effing deserve it? How is it ever right to make someone's intellectual or professional validity capped by their BMI?
secrethoughts secrethoughts 8 years
Society should focus less on what women look like and how much they weigh and more on what women have to say. I'm sick of the double standard, and I think it's a form of sexism. The media focuses on it because for some reason, people seem to care. When magazines' cover stories deal with womens' weight issues, people buy them. As soon as this stuff isn't selling anymore, the media won't focus on it.
legalbeagle legalbeagle 8 years
I think Meghan is right... but its women who do it to other women. If we werent constantly criticizing eachother I doubt anyone would be paying attention to weight anyway. Also, there is nothing wrong with being naturally thin either. You cant bash people for criticizing someone for being plus-sized and in the same sentence bash Heidi Montag for being skinny. She has always been skinny and always will be skinny because thats her body type- granted she went and got herself some boobies but if we judge her isnt it just as bad?
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I have mixed feelings about this. However, I do accept Meghan's point of view.
akay akay 8 years
Societally, we need to change the way we talk about weight. The dialogue shouldn't fixate on fat or skinny, but on healthy or not. Healthy weight differs for every person's frame. Take Queen Latifah: not a petite lady, but in great shape and inarguably gorgeous. Way prettier than a Heidi Montag boobs-on-stilts type any day
wickedlanie wickedlanie 8 years
Thank you, annebreal! We so much criticize this unhealthy ideal, but we also never consider that overweight/obese people can be perfectly healthy and fit. I'm considered obese and I'm a very active, physical person. People just automatically assume fat=unhealthy. It isn't always true.
laellavita laellavita 8 years
If Meghan is a size 8 or a 10, she's a good 2 to 3 sizes away from being plus-sized (generally speaking, the largest size most department stores carry in women's is a 12, and 14 and up are considered plus-sized). Meghan has never made her name trying to be sexy or by selling her body, she's been a woman voicing her opinion and using her mind for her career, so why should her body be the center of scrutiny? I might not agree with everything she has to say, but I definitely agree with her here.
annebreal annebreal 8 years
I think the idea about shaming fat or plus-sized people has nothing to do with health at the core of it. It's criticizing and putting down for the sake of it. I really wish as a society we could just MYOB. Fat and thin people alike are at varying levels of good health and attractiveness, and it's not anyone else's concern.
gingirl gingirl 8 years
I think she is completely right and I'm so sick of hearing about a woman's weight instead of her accomplishments in the media. I think Meghan is beautiful and if somebody is within their healthy weight range, what does it matter what the tag says? Women should aim to be healthy, not to look like the too-thin "ideal"
only1goddess only1goddess 8 years
I think there is a big difference between keeping "healthy weight in the forefront of our dialogue" and criticizing a woman's body. I'm all for people being educated about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight, but women are publicly judged for gaining a few pounds or for not having the "ideal" figure and that is definitely not healthy for us.
jbenny jbenny 8 years
I agree with McCain and I'm glad she is speaking out. Some of the celebs who have gained a few pounds and claimed they we're proud of it, caved and reverted back to being unhealthy.
flyowsley flyowsley 8 years
The media blows it out of proportion but in all truth it is women who obsess over weight. We put pressure on each other and we obsess over our own weight as well as each other's. We constantly compare ourselves with other woman. We are all guilty of it, like it or not.
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