“How well can she be eating? She needs to drop a few,” were the words that came out of Dr. Keith Ablow’s mouth about the First Lady when discussing her healthy eating campaign with the female hosts of Fox News’ Outnumbered. He continued, “who are we taking nutritional advice from?… Let’s be honest, there’s no French Fries happening? That’s all kale and carrot? I don’t buy it.”
Not only were Ablow’s comments in obvious bad taste, they were also grossly sexist. In the first instance, Michelle Obama is far from overweight. That she may not conform to media generated mythical representations of how women should look—skinny—is a good thing. Mrs. Obama is a role model for real, healthy women. She literally glows with health and happiness. And secondly, the First Lady is a 50 year-old mother of two! How do you expect her to look?! But this isn’t even the point. That Ablow, a male TV Fox News contributor, felt so entitled to casually and very publicly make derogative comments about a woman’s body weight—the First Lady of the United State’s body weight no less—and shun her healthy eating campaign as a consequence is obnoxiously sexist and rude. He should be shut down.
Granted, the Outnumbered ladies were appropriately shocked by their co-host’s offensive remarks. However, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery made the fatal error of attempting to cover for the mess her male counterpart had made by saying, “I like her booty.” Um… Excuse me?! What does Michelle Obama’s “booty” have to do with anything?? And how does further objectifying, and even worse, sexualizing her actually solve anything? As Sally Holmes from elle.com rightly commented, “can you imagine defending Barack Obama by mentioning his ‘booty?'” Again, sexist, cruel, and in very bad taste.
For the record, Michelle Obama is the founder of Let’s Move, a program that aims to end child obesity. And while her approach to this initiative is ordinarily fun and good humoured (Mrs. Obama appeared in a hilarious video for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner where she made fun of her whole healthy eating crusade), I can’t imagine she’d be laughing today.