Spare Me Your Weight

March 18, 2009

On the outset, it seemed like March was going to be a great time for women.  This month, we celebrated International Women’s Day recognizing women’s social achievements and ongoing struggles in pursuit of economic, social, and political justice.  Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton came together to recognize women’s human rights activists.  And President Obama signed an executive order establishing a White House Council for Women and Girls.  Yes, ma’am!  This is our month!  And just days later, the nation has come to focus on … Meghan McCain’s dress size.  Oh.

By now, most people know about the fight that conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham and wannabe-political-pundit Meghan (daughter of none other) McCain are having in the public sphere.  For those of you who had the pleasure of missing it, I’ll spare you the discomfort of reliving it through Google.  The synopsis:  Laura, in the process of addressing Meghan’s lack of credentials, infers that Meghan is overweight.  A rightly offended Meghan addresses the attack with the 2-prong-Jennifer-Love-Hewitt approach:  You shouldn’t attack me, and all women, by focusing on my weight.  Besides, I’m a size 8.  That’s not fat.

Oh Meghan.  You had me until the dress size.  So what if you weren’t a size 8?  What if you were a size 12, 16 or 22?  Is there a number at which it is acceptable to publicly attack someone for her weight?  There is no threshold where it is fair game to diminish a person because of her size.  I don’t want to know what size you are, wish you were, or are pretending to be.  It doesn’t matter and your protest is weakened by divulging what should be personal, and more importantly, inconsequential, information.

For years, women have been judged, at least in part, sometimes in whole, by how we look to the eye, instead of how we sound to the ear.  When females defend ourselves against these kinds of disparaging remarks by revealing the numbers on our scales, a disservice is done to every person judged by her weight. Women across the career spectrum from Oprah Winfrey to Jessica Simpson should never have to answer for their sizes.  Let’s do ourselves a favor and stop engaging in this self-destructive dialogue.

Save the dress size for your tailor.