Public Shame and Proof that Fat Doesn’t Fit In

This post has been trying to write itself through me and I have resisted. Much as some blogs declare themselves award-free or snark-free, I hadn’t thought of mine as being free of any topic – that’s why I often refer to it as ‘random life’ – but I never expected to see these two words appear here: Khloe Kardashian.

Go ahead – take a moment – you are likely stunned by them as well.

For that matter, I am not a fan of reality tv as is portrayed by some of the shows claiming to be just that. Who are they kidding? In my house reality television is called the ‘news’. But somehow, Khloe Kardashian is even turning up there. She’s on late night talk shows and covers of magazines.


She didn’t find a cure for cancer, invent an engine that gets 200 mpg, or even solve the economic issues of our country.
No, the topic is her paternity. Who is her father? We seem to think that is some of our business. Is it?

On radio shows and in crowds the topic of her not being a real ‘Kardashian’ feels shaming. There’s something inherently nasty about the reasons people believe it.

She’s too tall.

She’s too different.

She was the fat one.

She can’t have the same genes as the other women in the family.

She must be the child of another man.

Really? We think this is ok? She has been asked to take DNA tests to rule out men who might be her father – like the one coaching her mom in tennis and was confused about the scoring term ‘love’ – or whatever his excuse was. Then the one that made me feel like I needed a Silkwood shower was the headline on a rag mag that showed her picture next to Sidney and OJ Simpson’s, with the tag asking the question if OJ was her father. Sit with that one for a minute – the most hated man in America is being tagged.

You can’t even get away from it while buying your milk and bread.

There are some who seem to think it is ok to delve into any area of her life because she is in a reality show and is paid for access to her personal actions and reactions.

But the taunting and the finger wagging seems like adult bullying to me. It feels like we are shaming her. And it feels like we are sending the message that it’s ok because she looks different. It’s alright because she was the ‘f’ word – fat. None of the others were fat growing up. They were all perfect specimens of movie star quality looks and then there was the fat one who we need to shun, erase, prove that she doesn’t belong in the family portrait over the fireplace.

Entertainment Tonight interviewed the tennis coach who initially was suspected of being Khloe’s biological father. After all, his affair with her mother caused the break up of the marriage. He denied being her father. He didn’t say what I wanted him to say. I wanted him to say that he would have loved having a daughter like Khloe – that he wished it were true. And maybe he did and those comments were cut.

I think we need to take a long hard look at our appetite for this kind of mental nutrition. Do we want this in our psyche? Do we want to send the message that I believe is being sent – that it’s ok to cast out people who look different or to ridicule them?

So you may ask why I added to it by writing about it? That was why I tried to avoid putting it out in my blog. But nobody else was saying what I believe needed to be said.

Ask any child who was adopted who their father is and they’ll tell you about the man who raised them, not the one who showed up for the biological insemination. A father isn’t reduced to a few moment’s pleasure. I know who Khloe’s father is – Robert Kardashian – the one who loved her through skinned knees and sisterly squabbles. I don’t need to know any more than that.

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  1. You raised an excellent point: does pointing fingers and wagging tongues more often make sharing horrid observations any less despicable? If we do it more then that must make it ok, right?

    Hubbs adopted my oldest boy when he was in grade school; the child psychologist kept trying to talk to him about his “Real” Dad. He, at 10, finally stood up and said, “Hold on, my Real Dad is in the waiting room with my Mom .. I’ll be right back…” Kids know, shame on the adults who don’t bother to.

    Amen, sister! MJ

    1. Proof that they know what it means to be a father, even if we forget. I’m glad your son was confidant in speaking up for his dad. I’m sure his mom had something to do with that wonderful spirit. Thank you for sharing that story MJ.

  2. Renee, you make so many good points — thanks for taking this plunge.

    I’m a “reality TV” hater –I don’t watch, don’t understand why others’ lives are so empty that they look for an alternate reality — “this kind of mental nutrition” makes me vomit.

    And as the mother of an adopted son, I thank you for making me remember my son saying just that to his Dad, my husband, — you guys are my parents. The birth canal is after all pretty short, childhood isn’t.

  3. Renee, I agree with everthing you said. What is wrong with our culture? I say “our” even though I don’t watch any of this stuff, and like you, find out about most pop culture issues in the check out line at the grocery. This is a sad commentary on everyone involved, including the people who keep it on tv by tuning in and supporting reality programming. I’m not referring to the elaborate game set ups, but delving into people’s lives is both innappropriate and pathetic. We should all have more and better things to do. Like developing our own lives. Thank you for posting! ~ Sheila

  4. Thanks Sheila. Since I too am not a fan of reality tv, I didn’t feel qualified to speak about it until it just wouldn’t go away. Once it crossed over into my everyday line of travel, I knew it couldn’t be ignored. I realize it is cheap to produce, but I wish we could find something that is truly inspiring and entertaining to replace them all with.

  5. I too have seen the stupid headlines on the tabloids. Ridiculous. I have 3 younger sisters. The youngest battled with weight for a lot of years, but 15 years ago, she joined weight watchers, lost 100 pounds and has remained perfect sized ever since. One sister is fanatical over keeping her weight at 110 pounds like it’s her religion. At 5’5″, I’m 140 pounds and could probably take off 10 pounds, but I have no real interest in doing so. I’m fine. My other sister is about my size too. Although myself and two other sisters are brunette, and the sister who had the weight issue is blond, maybe our dad isn’t her dad. Hah! Absolute poppycock!

    The public has huge appetites for anything that brings a person down. I don’t really know that much about Kloe, but I do know she looks just like the other sisters. They are all beautiful girls. I don’t know why they are famous, but I don’t know why Paris Hilton is either. Still, we put people on pedestals just to knock them down. Personally, I find most of that stuff offensive. But I’m not really above the fray either. I do look at the headlines that Michelle Obama is having an affair with a secret service agent, and that Heidi Klum was beaten brutally by her husband, and that Elvis is alive and well in Toledo. But I don’t purchase the publications. Strange world we live in, Renee!

    1. I can’t explain why any of those reality stars are famous either and I have no idea why anyone would want to attempt to keep up with any of them. But I can’t explain the ‘housewives’ phenomenon either so maybe I am not up to date. I find someone like your sister who lost 100 lbs way more interesting. Now that’s reality I can get behind.

    1. It’s almost impossible to avoid being hammered by their images on magazines and television commercials, even if you don’t watch their shows. Maybe that is why the press feels entitled to dig around in their lives so much. Kudos to you for managing to avoid all of that.

  6. Renee, This is what I term as “Straight from the heart”. This post was all about what your heart wanted to speak about this sensitive issue. And you are so right. That’s the biggest reason I hate these reality shows,. Now a days, Indian version of maximum of the reality shows of USA are going on. And I really hate seeing them. We all have our own lives, then why we need to pay a visit to someone else’s life; that to be with out that person’s permission. We all need our personal space and we all need to give that much space to someone else also.
    This was really something extraordinary form you. Great Post Renee.

    1. Thank you Arindam. I think those of us who are happy in our own lives probably aren’t consumed with other people’s, but it is hard to escape the press about some of the stars – if we can call them that – as they are on newstands and commercials. Maybe both of our countries will see the wisdom in producing something worthy of our time and attention.

  7. Hi,
    I don’t watch the so called reality shows, I have never liked them, but I am always amazed when the ratings come out, that so many people watch these type of shows, I will never understand the attraction.

  8. I’m so with you. Yesterday, I was watching the film “Broadcast News,” which I hadn’t seen since it first came out in 1987. Worth watching again. It is set in that period of our lives when news media was making that transformation from balanced, thoughtful “real” news coverage to glitz and entertainment. Holly Hunter’s character represented the old school and William Hurt, the new, Holly had to reconcile her desire to continue doing the hard news while management was pushing to William Hurt’s style. That was 1987 and it has come to pass. I have reality shows and refuse to watch them. So I don’t really know about what you’re talking about and I really don’t care about the Kardashians or an celebrities that climb the ranks to fame through reality television.

    1. You are so right. The coverage of these pseudo stars has crossed over into real broadcasting and media coverage. I don’t watch the reality shows either, but couldn’t avoid the fray due to the constant coverage everywhere else. Geez. And to think about all of the real news and inspirational events we could be learning about staggers the mind.

  9. Well said! It’s even gotten to the point where our local NBC station feels the need to let us know what some celebrity said on Twitter! My reaction is “who gives a s¥#t?”

  10. This was one of the best posts of the year! I agree with you completely. I have four daughters, one of whom looked different from the others (blond, instead of brunette) and children used to ask her if she was adopted! Those shows about people who are famous for being famous are junk TV.

  11. Ok i don’t have TV, john has one, i watch movies but I don’t watch TV and i read your piece today and was flabbergasted.. is this what TV is? then i am not missing much!! judging by the tone of this page you agree!! throw it out the window! c

    1. The problem is – getting rid of the tv doesn’t get rid of the coverage. They are on and in magazines, talk radio has covered this whole ‘mystery dad’ and even the commercials during movies have shown them to no end. Maybe that kind of uber coverage is what has the media forgetting there is a line that decency dictates shouldn’t be crossed. If you have managed to avoid this drama then I applaud you. I find it troubling indeed.

  12. Writingfeemail, I’m in agreement with all of your points. As for me, I watch no television. I do watch some movies, read my local newspaper and lots of books, and manage to stay only barely abreast of what passes for “pop” culture. So, I wasn’t even aware that this young woman’s paternity was “up for grabs” in the media. We human beings do seem to have an unhealthy appetite, some times, for the digestion of other people’s lives. Hopefully, one day we will tire of this form of “mental nutrition” as you put it, and move onto what is truly real and worthwhile in our own lives.

    I hope to catch up on your posts that I’ve missed. The reality of my own life has been so very stressful, that I’ve barely been able to keep my head above water. For some weeks to come, I imagine it will continue this way, so forgive me when you don’t hear from me. Keep up your good work, your fine writing, and your editorials. You go, girl!

  13. I watch plenty of television, but cannot fathom the attraction of the so-called reality shows. Not that I’ve exactly watched any of them. For a brief period, one of the local channels filled its 11 a.m. hour with Real Housewives of Something or Other and it would sneak on without my noticing. When awareness dawned, an expression of my late husband’s would pop into my mind : It’s enough to gag a maggot! I guess it’s making money for someone but not good writers.

    1. I don’t enjoy any of those shows, but apparently others are. The problem is that they have managed to start turning up as ‘news’ items. Are you kidding me? It must be a slow day when this happens.

  14. I don’t watch any reality show (except the news 😉 ). I recognize the name you mention because it’s in every media format there is. I agree with you, I think the whole mess sends the wrong messages.

    1. Thanks, it truly does send so many bad messages that I couldn’t even list them all. And with the smart writers and readers who have responded, it unfortunately appears that it is our youth who have fallen victim to this type of frenzy.

  15. I have little interest in our celebrity culture, and I think I share that attitude with you and many of your readers. But I appreciate that you chose to look at this issue more closely, and with much more sensitivity than most. Whenever I see the name Kardashian, I usually refuse to read any further. I’m glad I made an exception this time. Thank you for writing this, Renee.

    1. Thank you Charles. I did procrastinate with this one because of the culture of their reality show, but in the end, I thought the message was so profoundly skewed that I took the leap. I appreciate your support.

  16. You have no idea how much I agree with you on this one. I often ask myself, “*That’s* news?!”
    It’s flat out none of our business.
    Not at all a fan of any reality shows – never have been. Couldn’t pay me to watch them….I have enough reality of my own, thank you very much! 🙂

    1. Yours is a very beautiful reality that feels wholesome and honorable. Those horses don’t care if you are in Ferragamo or Tony Lama. They just want their feed and a little loving! Nothing wrong with that.

  17. Great, thought provoking stuff. Way to use a celebrity personality to talk about an important real life issue. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  18. Hence why I spend my time reading blogs and not watching TV. I get to choose what I want to watch. I am truly saddened by what passes for news these days. Everything is done for the bottom line, the more outrageous the more money the show makes. Thanks for posting this!

    1. And your time is much better spent with the blogs, I am sure. It does seem that tv has gone to the dogs. Maybe they should check out a few blogs and find some better writers. Thanks.

  19. You are so right. Why does anyone want to watch this kind of waste – talking about the so-called reality TV – not Khloe Kardashian. I would call it mental malnutrition. Thanks for taking a stand and support the outsider.

  20. Where to start, Renee? Main thing is you voiced your frustration.

    Am rather amused that you call the news the true “TV reality show”. I am so against being a voyeur of other people’s lives I don’t even watch the news. I will listen to the radio (BBC4), but mainly just read the papers. Both the Radio and the broadsheets do not linger on the faces of those in pain. I don’t need that to imagine what something feels like. But then I’ve never been a peeping Tom. Possibly a different subject.

    As to fathers: Of course it’s no one’s business other than that of the people involved. On the other hand the whole saga (which I know nothing about) could be cut short by satisfying curiosity: Yes, OJ Simpson, say, is my father. What now? I’d love it. If someone gave me s…t like that I’d fling it right back. With pleasure. I’d feed them all they are gagging to hear. Truth or no truth, the more outrageous the better. Till they are so full, so stuffed, they feel nauseated. In Rome they used to say “Give them bread and games”, pane et circenses, (to keep the masses quiet, distracted from the real business in hand). Now, we in the Western World are so well fed we feed “celebrities” to the lions. (And play our wars on soil far far away – I digress).

    As to paternity (and there is no doubt that most of us want to know where we come from – nature as opposed to nurture) I once cast doubt on my youngest sister’s. She has never smoked, she didn’t even have a glass of champagne at her own wedding. She is quite brutal, in a most uncharming manner. When, some years ago, I suggested to my other siblings that she was clearly the milk/postman’s product of our mother’s attentions they didn’t think it funny. My poor sweet mother. They defended her honour – and quite rightly too. Apart from which my sister bears a rather uncanny resemblance to our father. So that knocked that on the head. What it showed me that people clearly have a humour bypass when it comes to paternity. And there I was dreaming I may be adopted …. oh the romance of it (unfortunately I too am a rather convincing mix of the two people who brought me up).

    Whoever this lady is whose plight you have drawn to our attention I hope she (and her family) have the gumption to sling this out. Unless of course they themselves rather enjoy feeding the media circus.


    PS If I talk too much just tell me to cut my cloth to a smaller size. Thanks. Or blame my genes. My father too talks an awful lot.

  21. I love your comments. Sometimes they could just be blog postings all by themselves. And I like the BBC. It is a good source for news that is from at least a slightly different perspective than our own American version.
    We all have the relative who doesn’t seem exactly like everyone else. In my case – it’s me. Go figure!

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