When people insult the Obamas’ appearances, it usually comes from a place far deeper than simple jeering. It resonates from a specific anger, a bitterness against the present government, the President’s politics and what the pair stand for. Perfect example: a coach and teacher at an Alabama high school who is under fire for making comments stating he doesn’t “like queers” and calling Michelle Obama fat.
A 1-minute, 24-second audio recording of coach Bob Grisham surfaced in which he questions students on whether or not they know who is behind the 600 calorie lunches. He answers himself with, “Fat butt Michelle Obama,” he said. “Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.” Okay, as somebody who weighs approximately 150 and is between a size 10 and 12, I can say for fucking certain that Michelle Obama weighs less than me, regardless of muscle mass. Obviously this is not the point, but I do find it a little bizarre that a high school coach — who also teaches driver’s ed and psychology, so he can control kids’ actions and minds! — could possibly estimate so poorly.
What’s sadder is that betwixt Grisham’s comments about how the country is going down the drain, you can hear male voices calling the First Lady a “fat gorilla,” because of course they had to add racism to plain ol’ body image snarking.
Grisham also stated that the country is going in the “wrong direction” and that kids could “get pissed off at me or not. You can go tell the principal, call the superintendent and tell her. I don’t believe in queers. I don’t like queers, I don’t hate them as a person, but what they do is wrong and an abomination against God.” How very…righteous of you.
Naturally, upon the recording’s discovery and reporting to the local media, Grisham stated that it totally, totally was an accident and he’s actually a really awesome guy. “I misspoke in a debate-type situation. I have no hatred toward anyone or any group. People that know my heart, they know that.”
Normally, I am not one of those, “_____ is totally not fat, don’t call her that!” because my typical argument is, “You should avoid calling anybody fat unless that is his or her preferred description” (which I know sounds odd, but I have multiple friends who like the term much better than any other). Because really, you shouldn’t; it’s just rude and mean and makes you look like an asshole far more than saying anything about your subject of snark. However, in this case, I think it’s an applicable argument to inquire as to how the First Lady is remotely overweight because the reason this man is making comments in the first place is Michelle Obama’s fight against unhealthiness and obesity, and how that somehow pisses him off enough to insult her body.
The fact of the matter is that the FLOTUS is likely one of the healthiest people who’s resided in the White House. She leads by example, and is widely cited as a body image role model by people who want to be “healthier” rather than simply “skinnier.” So calling Michelle Obama fat? That seems like a far reach to me. But apparently this is a common occurrence among President Obama’s critics, as explained by Elspeth Reeve at The Atlantic in “Why Conservatives Love Calling Michelle Obama Fat.” She argues that they do so because (A) eating somehow contradicts her desire for less than a third of kids to be obese and overweight (B) they think it hurts her feelings since she’s known for being fashionable and (C) she’s black, and in their eyes, black women have larger asses and therefore should be insulted for fighting childhood obesity.
While Grisham’s reasoning may not have included all of those reasons behind it, it does seem as though he resents Michelle and Barack Obama, as well as gays, quite a bit for not being satisfied with homophobia and a growing obesity epidemic. It’s just like middle school when somebody does something you don’t like or feel bitter about, so the best way to respond is, “Well, you’re fat.” Except Grisham isn’t a preteend; he’s in charge of them, and therefore will hopefully receive some consequences for teaching that being an intolerant asshole is all right in any way, shape or form.
Photo: Johnny Louis/WENN.com