Sex, Politics and Michelle Obama’s Posterior

You’ve probably already heard it but if you haven’t, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was overheard on the phone saying that Michelle Obama “Lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”

I’ll admit that my first thought was “seriously – he used the word posterior?” But that doesn’t seem as important in the situation so I soon moved on.  This is exactly why we do not conflate weight and health.  You can’t tell what Michelle Obama eats, or how much of it, by the size of her…posterior, or the size of her at all.  That goes for everyone, of all ages, including children if you catch my drift.  This is why I think it’s so important to be for giving people healthy options and access, and against judging their choices or their bodies.  Let’s stop all the body shaming, and instead we can focus our attention on giving people information, options and access, then butt out (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

It’s not the first time this has happened.  In February, Rush Limbaugh said:

The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice…I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.

How can I put this delicately… no woman’s health can be measured by whether or not Alex Rodriguez wants to fuck her. Ok, that wasn’t delicate at all, let’s try again.   I would like to see us stop measuring the beauty and value of women’s bodies by whether men want to ogle us on the cover of a magazine, or want to take us back to their hotel when their team comes through town.

A Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model is one type of body. It is not inherently better or worse than any other type of body.  The only thing we know about that body from looking at it, is that it’s the type of body that is currently put in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. We don’t know anything about how those women eat or how healthy or physically fit they are.

Model Josie Maran was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.  It soon became apparent that strength was not her strong suit (I am on fire with the bad puns today).  Her partner put her into a dip from which she was unable to stand back up.  As he perplexedly said “…use your legs…” they cut to her saying “being a model you only need to look good, you don’t have to train the strength”.  Then they they cut to her partner saying ““(she is) deceptively unfit”.

She is only “deceptively unfit” if you assume that because she is the cultural stereotype of beauty she is also strong/physically fit.  The problem isn’t Josie’s – she doesn’t need to be strong to do her job and she’s under no obligation to meet anyone’s definition of fitness.

The problem, that we see repeated over and over again, is that we try to get information about someone’s health and physical fitness by looking at them fully clothed. That does not work.  It has never worked.  It will never work. Health and body size are two completely separate things. Let’s grok that and move on.

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Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 7:49 am  Comments (57)  

57 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Making a comment on Michelle Obama’s rear end isn’t just making a comment about her perceived eating/fitness, though that’s bad enough. Commenting on women’s bodies like this is done deliberately to silence them. What these men are doing is saying “the shape of your body means you have no right to speak”. That, to me, is the really pernicious thing that’s happening here. The worth of women as political actors being reduced down to whether somebody wants to fuck them or not.

  2. Grok. Brilliant. I gotta love a literate woman. If you and your blog wife are open, I’m up for being a Sister Wife. :D

    You rock the grok, Girl. *grin*

    • This comment made me literally spit out cereal laughing. I’ll check with Karen and let you know!

      ~Ragen

      • Oh this makes me laugh in sooooooo many ways. I’m totally up for a poly-blog wife relationship.

    • I read that wonderful book this summer, really makes a person.

      • oh boy, the sentence would work better if I actually finished it. The book really makes a person think.

  3. Not to mention the racial element of this comment made by Representative F*ck Wit…

    • Exactly. While it is not necessarily the case across the board, we tend to have larger thighs and buttocks — even if the rest of our bodies are comparatively thinner.

  4. Come closer to Indiana! I’d love to meet you. Maybe one day.

    I agree with everything you said. I don’t even understand the psyche of someone who thinks that Michelle Obama is fat or unfit just by looking at her. She’s beautiful. Did she do or say something to anger them? Not that it is any excuse. It just goes to show that no woman’s body goes left without criticism. There is always some flaw that is dissected among people in the media or the general public, even the super models. It has become such a cultural norm to comment on the bodies of others, and that is unfortunate.

    • “She’s not fat, she’s beautiful”? ….Really?

      • Yes, really.

      • To Peter, who apparently didn’t get where I was going with my question: saying (or implying) stuff like “she’s not fat, she’s beautiful” is insulting, because it’s basically saying that fat isn’t beautiful. I’m sure Ragen has written about this at some point.

        Of course Michelle Obama is gorgeous. She’d be gorgeous and beautiful at thin, fat and in between.

      • I’m with beep here. Really? I didn’t realize these two things were mutually exclusive.

      • My apologies to beep. I didn’t take it that way. I thought you were saying she is not beautiful. I have had people tell me in all seriousness that Michelle Obama is a dog.

    • Women don’t have to be “beautiful” either!

      • It helps.

  5. While I’m appalled by the Rep’s comment, I do feel it’s easy for Mrs. Obama to talk about eating right when she has a staff of chefs to cook for her and her family. This is why I tend to resent her campaign against obesity. She lives in a much different world than the rest of us.

    As for judging health and beauty by supermodels – how many of them confess years after their fame has dwindled that their ‘perfect’ weight and figures were maintained by starvation diets, pills and even illegal drugs? With the right makeup and lighting, many of these girls look like the picture of glowing, sexy health when in fact they’re probably only moments away from their next purge.

    • One doesn’t need a staff of chefs to eat right. The first step is to lay off the Twinkies and the soda. We don’t even bring those into the house. Snack on fruit instead of a Ring-Ding. My seven-year-old daughter would rather eat a bowl of strawberries than candy. She says no to soda on her own. She has never even seen a Ho-Ho. It’s not rocket science.

      As for the idea of supermodel beauty, I haven’t heard Mrs. Obama say anything to the effect that everyone has to be a twig. Ragen clearly makes the point that this has nothing to do with size. A ‘perfect’ figure maintained with starvation diets and pills is not a perfect figure, nor do those techniques mean a woman is healthy. How many models, gymnasts and just ordinary girls and women have died of anorexia? I’ll take Christina Hendricks over Kate Moss any day. But there is a huge difference between having curves and being morbidly obese.

      • Perhaps I’m reading this wrong, Peter, and if I am I’m sorry, but I believe you might be missing the point. From what I can glean from your comment, you may be assuming that most if not all fat people sit around eating Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ring-Dings, and drinking soda all day. I for one am fat and can’t stand most of those. Then again, I’m also not a fan or assigning “good” and “bad” labels to food.

        As for your comment about the difference between having curves and being morbidly obese, the only difference is BMI (and even that is debatable considering that everyone’s definition of “curves” is different) and BMI is a crock of shit.

        Once again, if I have misread this, I truly am sorry. It’s been an insanely long day for me though and I’m not entirely sure if my head isn’t screwed on just right or my shoes are too tight. :-)

      • Karen, I would say that there is a strong correlation between bad eating and exercise habits and extreme, morbid obesity. But that is definitely not to say that it is true in all cases, and I apologize for implying that it does. I agree that it’s more important to have good habits and not try to force oneself to fit a particular mold. I agree that an overweight person who practices good moderate eating and exercise habits is much healthier than one who is constantly going on starvation diets and popping pills.

      • Replies seem to be acting funny, so if this ends up above instead of below the intended part, I’m sorry. Anyway, apology more than accepted. I’m glad my grinchy mood hasn’t destroyed anything, except perhaps my ability to spell, but I think that’s more of my brain simply not working any more after spending almost all day in the car. I’m with Ragen that healthy habits are the best possible path to health, even though there are factors that can’t always be controlled. Thank you for hearing me out. After all the jerks on the road today it’s nice to know that I’m not invisible. ;-)

      • But there is a huge difference between having curves and being morbidly obese.

        Do you really think this is an appropriate place or way to cast judgment on body size?

      • The replies appear to be acting funny because we have reached the limit for levels, so I have to reply to myself in order to reply to others.

        This is a reply to Tori’s question. This whole thing started with Ragen defending Michelle Obama over statements by right-wingers that she is 1) fat, or 2) has a large posterior, and therefore has no right to campaign against obesity. I did make a statement that by the time a person is several hundred pounds overweight, there are undeniable health issues. I apologize if that offends anyone. It is not meant as a judgment or an implication of weak moral character, it is a medical fact: extreme obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, even arthritis. That’s why Obama started her campaign in the first place. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone who is fat has bad habits or that everyone who is thin doesn’t–everyone has different metabolism after all–and I already said that I do not agree with starving or otherwise abusing one’s body to achieve an arbitrarily “ideal” body image.

        • Peter,

          Karen already took you through the difference between correlation and causation so I won’t go through that again. I will say that your comment is offensive only is as much as it is demonstrably wrong. I am several hundred pounds heavier than what I’m “supposed” to be based on the charts and I am a professional athlete with no health issues at all. There are many people who are several hundred pounds overweight who don’t have any health issues. The problem occurs when we try to use weight as a proxy for health, or try to come up with some weight that is “just too fat”. It doesn’t work that way. There are very very fat people who are healthy, and there are thin people who are not and so there’s simply no point in bringing weight into the discussion. I apologize for letting it get this far – I was in and out today and I somehow missed this thread. In order to continue commenting on this blog, you’ll need to stop conflating the concepts of weight and health including and especially stating that it’s “medical fact”, if you have questions you are welcome to ask them, if you have comments that do not conflate weight and health then that’s awesome. There are many places on the internet where you can make sweeping generalizations about fat people and health, this is not one of them.

          Thanks!

          ~Ragen

          ________________________________

      • Hey Peter!

        I think you mean well, but you might want to read more of Ragen’s blog before you post any more.

        Thanks!

      • Hey, Peter, it’s me again! This is going to be the last response tonight from me because I have a massive migraine brewing from other things and it will start to effect my ability to think clearly soon. I think the problem we may be running into here is that you might be mistaking correlation with causation. There are correlations with a lot of things that we would never think were actually the cause. There are more lawnmower breakdowns during the spring and summer months, but we would never think to blame it on the up rise in consumption of ice cream, although technically those things are correlated. The lawnmower breakdowns are because they are used more in those months due to grass growth, and the ice cream consumption is because of the heat and the appearance of that evil truck with the annoying music. Just because there is a correlation between a certain BMI and a medical condition does not mean the weight causes the condition. These conditions happen in people of all sizes and shapes. Heck, I’ve known them to happen in many different age ranges as well from purely personal experience.

        I truly would like to go into this more, but I’m starting to have trouble typing and I don’t want this to be lack luster. Just something to think about. :-)

      • Comments like this make me hoppin’ mad (yes, fat gals can hop–who knew?) but I’ll try to stay civil and on point. Firstly, you do seem to imply that many or even most fat people consume vast amounts of snack cakes and soda. I gave up soda in 2004, and though I did lose a few pounds, I doubt any famous sports stars will be hitting on me anytime soon.

        I think the point about having a staff of chefs isn’t that a staff is what’s required to lose weight. It’s more than many people in this country don’t even have a grocery store in their neighborhood (this is an enormous issue in poor cities), yet are being spoken to by the first lady as if keeping a steady stream of fresh produce in the house is as simple as wanting to. It isn’t. If you’re poor, don’t drive, work long hours, etc, you may or may not have the luxury of shopping for and preparing fresh healthy foods a few times a week.

        Have you even considered that a box of Little Debbies is $1 and available at every gas station, while a bag of apples or oranges costs 3-4 times as much and has to be gotten at a grocery store? Or that a person can totally eschew snack cakes and soda and still be heavy? Personally, I was in my mid-20’s before I was lucky enough to encounter something as decadent as “a bowl of strawberries.” Smuckers, maybe, but actual strawberries? No way.

      • Yes, but Peter – I don’t eat any sugar, at all, and eat a relatively low fat diet of all natural whole foods cooked from scratch. Not because I’m trying to lose weight, but because I feel better if I eat that way. (It’s less expensive, too…)

        And I have still gained 40 pounds in the last 5 years – while eating that way. Hormones, illness, age… I am less active, because of the illness, than I was, say, 10 years ago – but I still work on my feet and routinely walk a mile or two at a time (carrying my shopping.) Over a week, I move much more than most people I know, who spend their days at a desk, and occasionally hit a gym.

        No, it’s not rocket science. It’s also *not* “calories in – calories out.” Human metabolism – human biology – is infinitely more complex than rocket science…

  6. The media is up in arms about the comment on Michelle’s bum, but it’s okay to show headless fatties on the news and Pippa Middleton’s posterior, well, everywhere. Yeah, OK.

  7. I didn’t think I could adore you any more, you go and write something like this: “[N]o woman’s health can be measured by whether or not Alex Rodriguez wants to fuck her.”

    I’m psychically hugging you *so* hard right now…

    • Yay, I love psychic hugs!!!

      ~Ragen

  8. Your point is well taken, and I had heard that His Immenseness Rush Limbaugh had called Mrs. Obama fat, but I had not heard of any comments specifically directed at her fundament. By those standards, I suppose they wouldn’t like Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian either.

    Just one comment: I think you meant to write “Sports Illustrated edition”, not “Sports Illustrated addition”. Just sayin’.

    • Hi Peter,

      I image that they would likely say those same things about Ms. Lopez and Ms. Kardashian. I can only listen to Rush’s show for 30 seconds at a time so I certainly can’t pretend to be an expert!

      Thanks for the edit! You are, of course, correct. I’m not much of a proofreader at 2am.

      ~Ragen

  9. This makes me ashamed to be a WI resident (and I feel bad enough because of the governor!).

    I thought that he was overheard at church though and thus the reason for saying posterior instead of another word. I could be wrong but I thought that was what I had read in one article.

    • It’s a sad day indeed when you can’t say “ass” in church. Come Palm Sunday, what is Jesus going to ride on?

    • YAY! Another Wisconsinite and fellow Scott Walker loather!

      Just had to say hi!

      • Well, at the very least, I do feel that he has put WI in an unfavorable light. Not as sure if I’m a loather though if he is going to go after medical assistance, I’m NOT going to be a happy camper as we depend on it massively. But the whole thing confuses me and it doesn’t help that my husband is very much a conservative (and listens to the idiot Rush).

  10. Please do not use the “F” word in relation to Michelle Obama. She has natural human dignity. Please do not insult her by applying that word to her as you did. It is highly inappropriate.

    Thank you.

    Darcy DeMarco

    • Hi Darcy,

      I’m not sure what you are talking about here, can you clarify?

      ~Ragen

    • Darcy, I think you missed the point. Ragen was directly addressing the comments made by Limbaugh, concerning that Michelle Obama didn’t have the kind of figure of the women that Alex Rodriguez dates. The implication being that Michelle Obama isn’t attractive enough to be a sexual plaything.

      While I’m not a fan of the ‘F’-bomb myself, the use of the word in this context was intended to highlight just how tawdry of a comment Limbaugh had made, when he insinuated that the First Lady wasn’t in the kind of shape to be sexually attractive to a notorious lech. Such a comment is a backhanded insult. It’s not saying that she is promiscuous, but rather that, even if she were, she’s not shapely enough to be wanted. He took the, “She’d be pretty if she just lost some weight,” comment, and reduced her attractiveness to nothing more than her sexual appeal.

      Yes, Michelle Obama has natural human dignity, which I saw as precisely why Ragen disputed the contention that her beauty and fitness should only be measured by whether some horndawg would want to bed her.

      • Very well said, thank you!

        ~Ragen

    • The “F” word, as you call it, has nothing to do with dignity. Using it does not remove it from anyone.

      In fact, placing someone on such a pedestal that they would be undone by something as harmless as a swear word can be damaging because it removes the human element. Pedestals imply perfection, and no human is perfect. The “natural human dignity” you are trying to protect often includes things you might not like to hear about, which is a big part of the beauty of the human species.

      That last part doesn’t have much to do with Ragen’s post, but it’s something you might want to consider. If you place Michelle Obama (or anyone) on too high a pedestal, you are actually, in a way, dehumanizing her by making her into some kind of mythical figure when she is actually a lot of other things. Mother, wife, First Lady, extremely intelligent woman, human being who has, I’m sure, made mistakes and likely even used the “F” word herself.

      Thank you.

    • Ok, what’s interesting here is that I assumed that you were accusing me of calling Ms. Obama fat, and I was confused because 1. I didn’t call her fat and 2. I don’t consider that an insult. From the other comments it appears that you object to my use of the word fuck, which did not occur to me at first. I think that Liza makes the point beautifully in her comment and I won’t restate that point.

      What I will suggest is that you gain some perspective here. The fact that you would think you have any right whatsoever to come onto my blog and tell me what I can and cannot say is so out of control inappropriate that I am waffling between being furious and being amused. I doubt that any of my readers agrees with everything that I’ve ever said. You are free disagree with my work, and you are free not to read my work, but you have no right or authority to tell me what I can or cannot say, or what is or is not appropriate, in a forum that only exists because I created it for the sole purpose of saying what I think.

      ~Ragen

  11. Health and body size are two completely separate things.

    YES. Yes. Yes it is.

    I need to tattoo this on my brain (and maybe everyone else’s brain, too, come to think of it– hah).

  12. I wrote this blog post in response to Sens. statements as well…I think that beyond the fat shaming the racial implications of this statement should be addressed as well

    http://fatfempinup.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/michele-obamas-badonka-dont-fat-shaming-racial-undertones/

  13. Huh. A big ass making critical comments about Michelle Obama’s reportedly big ass. I say “reportedly” because I haven’t seen photos, nor gone looking, to have any informed opinion on the First Lady’s hiney in the first place. She certainly hasn’t called me to ask what I think of her derriere, and I’m sure she’s not losing sleep at night worrying about such things.

    I’m not a fan of Barack Obama (I’m not a fan of any of the Republican contenders for his job, either), but cheap shots like this only serve to make the speaker look petty and unsubstantial. If the only thing they can find to critique is the size of the First Lady’s tushy. If one wants to express disagreement or dissatisfaction with the current administration, stick to real issues. If the most pressing thing on the mind is Michelle’s butt, then count the blessings that worse things aren’t a worry, and shut up.

  14. I have to say, I’m from Wisconsin and good ol’ Jimmy should be worrying about a whole lot more than if Mrs. Obama has junk in her trunk.

    I’m so glad to know this is what he spends his time on! Not.

  15. Man…and just to think when someone said I was “built like Michelle Obama”, I took it as a compliment.

    • Beauty is in they eye of the beholder. A lot of men appreciate their women with some junk in the trunk. I’m surprised a cheesehead wouldn’t.

      Likewise if someone likens you to a “brick shithouse.” If I were you, I’d take it as a compliment. But that’s just how I roll.

  16. Ohfercryinoutloud…criticizing her body is just nonsense. It is politically motivated commentary intended to udermine her agenda. I have seen Mrs Obama in person, and it seemed quite obvious that she follows her own advice. She is muscular. Her every move suggests athleticism. She is tall, has great posture, and carries herself with grace. Exactly how could someone in midlife appear to be so physically strong without lots of exercise and as much healthy food as she needs?

  17. MSU? Oh dear, it seems I picked the wrong Big Ten school ;)

    If you came to the University of Illinois I would love to come see you speak.

    • Hi Lauren,

      Who knows, maybe I’ll end up speaking there as well! If you know of a group or school there that might like to bring me in as a speaker, let me know :)

      ~Ragen

  18. “no woman’s health can be measured by whether or not Alex Rodriguez wants to fuck her.”

    That is definitely going on my favorite quotes page :-)

  19. Ms Obama comes off as a hypocrite. She us the one making kids feel bad by saying that obesity is a problem. Agreed, you cant tell how healthy she is or isnt but so what. She should be the first to make the statement since she is promoting this crap. I think it is wrong the way she is doing it. It goes against all that haes and accepting ourselves as we are. She sure doesnt. She is making it harder for kids who are fat. I dont care about who is a Dem or Rep. If we play politics with this subject we will all loose. Whether it is a congressman or first lady, both are wrong and dont get it. I have been waiting to see how some feel aobut obama. I was upset when I heard whatshe was doing and didnt like it at all. For my sake only, I will keep politics out of it.

  20. Am I to understand that Rush Limbaugh actually thought this, let alone said it??


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