September 10, 2007
Open letter to Keith Olbermann
Because I believe people we admire should be subject to criticism just as much as those with whom we disagree.
Dear Mr. Olbermann,
I’m very fond of you as a commentator, and I love Countdown. As a general rule I don’t mind your celebrity coverage, which is something I’ve heard other feminists criticize. However, I was really bothered by tonight’s commentary on Britney Spears’s sort-of comeback. Specifically, I was frustrated with Joel McHale’s comments about Spears’s weight. I know you have no control over what your guests say, but I can’t help but feel like you encouraged him somewhat (for example, when he mentioned her weight the first time, you made a laughing, “you-said-it-I-didn’t” sort of comment).
I’m a woman with a fairly average build — not so different from Spears’s current figure, in fact. I thought she looked remarkably healthy, particularly given what people say about her eating habits, not to mention the fact that she’s had two babies in the past two years. It seems like when it comes to female celebrities, people are either whispering about her obvious anorexia or they’re calling her a fat cow, and you’d better believe that women internalize that criticism and its ultimate implication that we won’t be acceptable no matter how much we weigh.
There was so much about Spears’s performance at the VMAs that was painful to watch: the half-hearted dancing, the terrible lip-syncing, the awful weave, the blue contact lenses, etc. (Of course, that begs the question of why women’s appearances are subject to so much more scrutiny than men’s, but one issue at a time, I suppose.) Why not focus on that which was truly cringe-inducing, rather than calling attention to her weight?
I hope you’ll give my concerns some thought, as I have a great deal of respect for you.
The Lizard Queen
P.S. I’m totally blogging this.