Monday, September 10, 2007

Britney Spears Is Not Fat

A year ago the American public sent a message to Congress: Make Iraq go away. Instead we got a troop surge. I guess they didn’t hear us—but the media did. They’ve complied with a number of distractions: Tuberculosis Man, Popcorn Lung, the Kitten of Death—any story they can get their hands on that doesn’t involve the words “sectarian violence.”

At least this is the only explanation I can think of for the current obsession with the antics of Young Hollywood or why anyone would bother to cover Baby Dannielynn’s first birthday.

This morning I turned on the television and it seems Britney Spears is the train wreck du jour. Now, I didn’t watch last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. Mostly because I don’t have cable but also because I knew there were plenty of people getting paid to watch the show for me. I swear, I’ve watched entire TV series vicariously—“The Sopranos” springs to mind—listening to morning-after pundits discuss the latest plot developments, completely negating my need to ever tune into an actual episode.

Same with the VMAs. All I needed to know I learned from the 20-second clip that played in heavy rotation on pretty much every news outlet I tuned into. It wasn’t really necessary for Matt Lauer to tell me what my own eyes could see: Britney Spears turned in a helluva bad performance. Some say she appeared out of breath; frankly, I thought she looked bored.

I’m not here to pile on the “Britney needs help” bandwagon. I don’t really care whether she parties too much, forgets to wear underwear or shaves her head. I’m not a fan of her music, find her talent questionable and whether her career survives this latest miscue is of absolutely no consequence to me. I hate to even sink to the level of discussing her at all.

But it bothers me that people are calling her fat. Joe Scarborough, I’m talking to you.

Britney Spears, even the post-partum Cheetos-chomping version on display last night, is not fat. True, she had actual meat on her bones, like most healthy women I know. That hardly qualifies as overweight. To suggest otherwise simply perpetuates the skeletal image that Hollywood would have us think is the female norm. Interestingly, these same commentators are the very people who urge celebutantes like Nicole Richie to “have a sandwich” (now that she’s eating for two, perhaps she's finally eating for one).

This yo-yo messaging from the media needs to stop. One week the headlines scream “Scary Skinny!” the next week they shout “Diet Secrets of the Stars!” According to a recent report, an increasing number of women in their 30s and 40s are developing eating disorders. Gee, I wonder why.

So call Britney irresponsible or immature. Feel free to critique her parenting skills, lackluster dance moves or non-existent vocal ability. But until she approaches Pavarottian proportions of girth, stop calling her fat.


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