My friends tell me I should just leave it. Ignore Rush Limbaugh as I mostly do. I realize when you have that many hours of airtime per day to fill with vitriol, at a certain point, you are just going to start throwing shit at the walls. Best for the rest of us to walk away and hold our noses. But Rush has finally spewed out something that makes me so angry, I can’t ignore the brown stains. In case you didn’t hear, yesterday Rush Limbaugh said that Michelle Obama is a hypocrite for pushing her healthy eating and exercise suggestions for children. His “proof”? Well, he cited a meal of ribs she recently enjoyed, but worse yet, implied that she’s fat.
Yes, you read that right. Rush Limbaugh is implying that Michelle Obama is FAT! One would be tempted to assume there are not many shiny, reflective surfaces in Limbaugh’s world. Or perhaps his staff is periodically changing out the chair in his studio to a larger one so he’s never aware of his expanding girth. But I’ve had enough experience with college mixers to know that men who are Solid Twos (when their mothers dressed them and the sun was in your eyes) have no problem pointing out the body flaws in a woman who it would be easy to imagine would be the break-out star of the beach volleyball team and win all the cosmetics endorsements.
In that vein, here’s what Rush said:
“The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice. And then we hear that she’s out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving…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.”
As if a healthy athletic mother of two in her Forties has to fit into a supermodel’s bikini to be judged at a proper body weight. I’m pretty sure I can name some incredibly fit women — Gabrielle Reese, Serena Williams, Lindsey Vonn and Mia Hamm spring to mind — who wouldn’t fit those bikinis either. But they have strong athletic bodies that have won Olympics and excelled in the highest levels of professional sports. Which says something about our national body perception, especially when it comes to women. No matter her achievements or brainpower, a woman can always be slammed for her looks. Especially if her looks fall anywhere short of the Victoria’s Secret standard that, apparently, we are all to be held to. I know Rush Limbaugh doesn’t have daughters but what message does this send to our nation’s daughters? That no matter what they accomplish, they can always be diminished on this score?
To be fair, it’s not just Rush who buys into this, and it’s a problem that’s been going on for a long time. I grew up with a mother who constantly made negative comments about my weight — and this was when I was hovering at one hundred pounds and on the high school cross country running team! I thought I’d perfected that wonderful teenage defense mechanism of tuning out parental units, but apparently some of it sunk in. There’s always a moment of surprise when I stumble over a picture of myself in high school or college. I looked a lot more like Renee Zellweger (and I’m not talking the Bridget Jones version) than Jennifer Lopez (not that there is anything wrong with J-Lo), but my perception was always that I was “hippy” and “had big thighs.” At some point, I measured myself in high school and recently found those measurements: 34″/22″/33.5″. I don’t even think I had hips back then!
So somebody has to stand up and tell girls that healthy bodies come in all sizes and shapes and we should focus on the fuel we give those bodies and what those bodies can do, not on how well they fit some impossible standard. I guess today it’s going to be me. But lately these days, that person is Michelle Obama.
I know Rush hasn’t listened to a word of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program and campaign against childhood obesity. After all, this is a man who lost 90 pounds on the Oxycontin and Jello Diet, which landed him in the hospital. Worse yet, it seems to have kept the weight off for so short a time that I’m not able to find any pictures of “The Thin Rush.” So, it is worth recapping for him and other Right Wing blow-hards just exactly what the program is all about.
No Sarah Palin, it’s not about saying you can’t have dessert, mandating portion sizes or taxing food. It’s about helping kids make good choices, introducing them to healthy foods they may not be familiar with and making sure that they have access to those choices. When fast food outlets are allowed to operate in school lunchrooms and there are more deep fat fryers in the cafeteria than salad bars, kids don’t have a chance. When low-income urban areas don’t have a single grocery store but are littered with fast food outlets, people don’t have a choice.
What I love about Michelle’s approach is that it’s very European, in that there is no emphasis on low-fat, no-fat faux foods. Nothing is off limits as long as food is “real”, portions are appropriate, the diet is balanced, and lots of exercise is part of the equation. Some experts think Americans’ skewed and adversarial attitude toward our food is why we eat “low fat” and get hefty while Europeans eat foie gras and pasta and stay slim. So you could say, Michelle’s approach may be the one that will work for us.
It’s clearly working for her. No, she’s not a snake-hipped supermodel. She’s a strong healthy athletic woman. Not that Rush is probably aware of this, but you don’t get cut arms like hers — especially as a woman and certainly as a woman over forty — without sporting pretty impressively low body fat. Not that I think Michelle’s message would be diminished in any way if she were overweight. We all listened to Betty Ford tell us about sobriety. The fact that she’d battled painkiller addiction in no way made her campaign any less valuable or her leadership in any way suspect.
So Michelle eating ribs? Not a problem. Especially when Chef Kelly Liken who served that meal points out that the ribs were a 5 ounce portion (she estimated 600 calories) of lean beef, braised with most of the fat rendered off and served with a side of organic kale grown by local school children as part of a “healthy food” program. (You couldn’t improve on this stuff with fiction, unless you said the kale was raised by war orphans who are now nuns in Mother Teresa’s order.) Did I mention that this meal was eaten after Michelle had spent a day skiing — which surely burned off more calories than she consumed?
But getting back to Michelle’s European attitude. She’s clearly a woman who is comfortable in her own skin and, because she is healthy, happy with her size even if she will never be mistaken in silhouette for Calista Flockheart. Best yet, she always projects the ease, humor, grace and attitude of someone you’d want to hang out with. (Full disclosure — I’ve already offered to be her gardening buddy.)
Contrast that with Ann Coulter, who is probably Rush Limbaugh’s Dream Girl. Sure, she’s thin as a whippet, but she’s always snarling and I can’t imagine she’d be much fun to be around. But Ann Coulter brings me to the point where I have to think of a more constructive response to this situation than writing a blog post or calling Rush Limbaugh a Lard Ass on Twitter.
No, I’m not inviting Rush Limbaugh to Two Terrier Vineyards to learn the joys of organically raised produce. If he shows up within a mile of the ranch, he’ll be set upon by terriers.
But Ann Coulter? Despite her lucrative Agent Provacateur act, she strikes me as, underneath, an intelligent woman. I can work with that. But perhaps she’s a few artisanal Sonoma cheese plates and a couple bottles of Two Terrier Grenache away from being much happier and healthier.
So Ann, have your people call my terriers. I know you aren’t going to admit Michelle’s right, so let me act as intermediary. I’ll get some triple cream brie from humanely raised Sonoma goats, then I’ll drizzle it with organic lavender honey from bees that buzzed around our gardens. I’ll pair it with some crusty bread from the Basque Bakery down on the Square and serve us a salad from Flying Terrier Farms. Don’t worry about the calories. It’s a special treat and I’ll put you to work with John the Baptist digging irrigation trenches.
I aim to promote the First Lady’s Let’s Move Program one Right Wing pundit at a time.
Women always have the unrealistic standard to live up to. Unfortunately, other women are worse critics than most men. I’m just as guilty as most any woman.
Yes, Mr. Limbaugh should shut up on this point and focus on something else; but he’s there to stir the stuff you referred to being thrown at the walls.
Perhaps we women should encourage our sisters to be healthy in all manner and do the best we can to not be critical. You’ve inspired me. I’m going to look for something positive about a person, count to ten then think if making a critical shot is even worth it. Really. What’s the point.
Thanks for the thought provoking post. Let me know if you become a gardening buddy at the White House. I wanna go!
As usual, another rocking post. Sharing it on our favorite social media site.
If Ann Coulter comes to town, I volunteer to feed her. (I figure the conversation would be worth it.)
I’ve never seen anything particularly wrong with Mrs O’s shape: she doesn’t always drape stuff around herself well, but when she does, the effect is quite fetching.
Ms. Coulter needs to eat a cookie, even if it makes the FLOTUS cry.
Ann Coulter may be one of those lucky people who is naturally very slim no matter what she eats. But I contend that I could give her some food that would remake that attitude.
And Mrs. Obama is not “anti-cookie”. In fact, she talks a lot about how French Fries are her particular weakness. She says the message is that such things are occasional treats, not everyday main courses and not in super-sized portions.
All things in moderation — with a lot of exercise to balance it out.
Maybelline, thanks. I’m still thinking of something constructive to do, as I don’t think Ann Coulter’s people will call. Was thinking about bringing a bunch of my tomato, bell pepper and lettuce starts to the local community gardens I’m seeing in SF’s poorer areas. That is, if they survive this cold in the greenhouse.
It’s been said before but bears repeating.
Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot
FLOTUS is fabulous. She’s an inspiration and is taking fantastic approach to childhood nutrition.
Ann Coulter is playing a role, IHMO. Ice queen for the right. Seriously she is right out of Narnia, don’t you think?
Thank you for a really well-thought out and beautifully-written post. If only Mr. Limbaugh and Ms. Coulter would read and think about what you’ve said here. And I think Mrs. Obama would secretly be more than a bit pleased…
You go, girl.
aside from the whole Limbaugh controversy I’m bummed that your mom thought you were fat at such a tiny size 🙁
BTW, your site is taking a long time to load for some reason – especially when commenting.
Girls learn to turn a critical eye on everything at an early age. Hellish but true in our society. If you have never read Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, I highly recommend it. Think I parted company with my copy a few years ago. Should revisit. Girls are definitely not “sugar and spice and everything nice” in this novel.
Of course she also wrote The Edible Woman and Lady Oracle. Powerful both, but not as thorough IMHO.
First Lady Michelle Obama is doing good work with raising consciousness of what goes into children’s mouths. Helping children connect with their world, wonderful business.
Spring for us will mean a return to the garden after unintended abandonment of same last year. Sorry you let yourself be sucking to to the angry universe with RL even for a short time. A good run with the terriers should help work it out.
French fries are okay when they make two trips through the oil. The first trip steams them and the steam keeps the oil out. The second trip heats and crisps them and the crispy skin keeps the oil out. Good fish and chips do the same thing only they do it at high temperature which “sears” the batter and heats the fish by steaming it.
Oh, Ann Coulter is a tranny.
As a guy, I hesitate to comment on this blog but I’m also an obnoxious ass, so what the hell. I’ve had periods in which I’ve been extremely fit, six pack, etc, 80 push-ups in 2-minutes, and periods when I’ve been over weight. I’m now paying for all that over-eating with diabetes. In the last 2 years I’ve dropped 50 lbs by eating better and doing P90X. So I speak from some experience.
I absolutely “love” Mrs. Obama. She is a great role model for black women and girls. As man that raised a black son, I constantly warned him to avoid knuckleheads, be they boys or girls. I only hope he marries someone as wonderful a Mrs. Obama of any weight.
But Mrs. Obama is slightly over weight although from a black guy’s perspective, it looks quite appealing. And that is the problem. American ideals of food, portion size, weight, etc is distorted, especially, Black America’s ideals of weight, etc. As I chose my weight loss goal, I chose the upper limits of the height/weight chart. I still find it hard to believe I can reach the middle of the weight chart although I carry a little extra muscle, and most women think I carry it well. There’s no reason 25% – 30% of Americans are overweight or obese. We are experiencing epidemic levels of diabetes, heart disease, etc. As much as I love the Black Woman physique, it’s not healthy. And unfortunately, way too many middle aged Black women who were “voluptuous” in their 20’s are obese in the 40’s and 50’s.
My wife also dropped some weight and now she can wear some size 4s, bike 50 miles, and do P90X, pretty awesome for a 50 year old. She hates it when other overweight women say she is too small or so small, etc. She is in the upper range of her height/weight chart, and she want to lose another 10 – 15 lbs. Most of our relatives and friends are so weight distorted that our healthy weights seem unusual. Likewise, with Mrs. Obama,she looks great to me, and that the problem, I’m still suffering from American weight distortion too.
I always welcome your thoughtful comments, Bin.
However, I’d argue against Mrs. Obama being overweight. In my experience, a woman can’t achieve that cut arm look unless she has seriously low body fat.
And there is a big difference between big-boned and largely muscled and being overweight. My roommate in college was built like Mrs. Obama and there wasn’t an ounce of fat on her. (Seriously, we both went in for that immersion body fat measurement and she was somewhere around 15% which is damn low for a woman.) But because she was big-boned and had lots of muscle (especially in her legs and glutes) while I was small boned and small in stature, people were always saying I was the “thin” one and she was the “heavy” one.
Yet, she could smoke me on the running trail, in the gym and rowing canoes on the lake. She was in fantastic shape, but would never look like a stick-thin supermodel.
Lisa, if you want Michelle Obama arms, shoulders, etc. do P90X. It will add muscle in all the right places w/o giving you bulking muscles. It works great for 30 year old women like you and my wife.
Hee hee. Thirty year old. Yeah, and a few. I’ve heard of the P90X system. I may be building my own version with my collection of weights, kettlebells, yoga equipment. Now if I can only get the discipline to use them regularly! Not worried about bulking up. Not unless I start taking steroids.
P90X is awesome. We are on our 5th round and we aren’t stopping any time soon. It’s just enough weights for guys, but much much more. I really like the Yoga, Kempo, Cardio workouts. I’ll never join another gym, total waste.
Hello there I am so delighted I found your blog page, I really found you by
accident, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like
to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round entertaining
blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.
Health to Michelle Obama constitutes of both internal and physical, both diet and the mental and emotional state. They are all interrelated in a way. Throughout her life, she had been privileged of making the perfect choices for herself, and she considers herself fortunatefor this. Even her husband encouraged her everytime to figure out what she actually wanted to do, as they both understood the simple fact that physical happiness is connected to all the components of a healthy lifestyle, and hence she wants to pass on these concepts to her daughters. ;..;’
Bye for now