Amanda Pendolino
June 21, 2013

Rex Reed Won’t Back Down From Melissa McCarthy ‘Hippo’ Comments, Claims Concern About Obesity

Rex Reed is not responding to the heat.

In a recent New York Times profile, actress Melissa McCarthy responded to the New York Observer critic’s harsh, personal critique of Identity Thief, in which he called her a “hippo” and a “humongous creep,” among other things.

Keeping it classy, Melissa said, “I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate.”

But despite being widely disagreed with, Rex won’t back down.

“I can only repeat what I have said before — that I do not have, nor have I ever had, anything personal against people who suffer from obesity,” he told Us Weekly.

“What I object to is the disgusting attempt to pretend obesity is funny,” he continued. “It is not remotely humorous, and every obese comedian who ever made jokes about the disease are now dead from strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

He ended with this: “As a critic whose opinions are constitutionally protected by law, I stand by all of my original remarks about Melissa McCarthy’s obesity, which I consider about as amusing as cancer, and apologize for nothing.”

Now, he’s right that obesity is not in itself funny — but the idea he’s somehow concerned for Melissa’s health is ridiculous. How are his comments not personal? How is calling someone a hippo at all helpful or constructive? He didn’t attack the movie or its portrayal of Melissa’s character; he attacked her.

Celebrating people of all sizes doesn’t equate to ignoring the problem of obesity — and fat-shaming isn’t helping anyone. ¬†Beyond being impolite, it’s insufferably arrogant to assume you know anything about the health of another person. Not all thin people are healthy, and not all overweight people are living unhealthy lifestyles.

Studies have shown being underweight is much more dangerous than being overweight, and yet we still celebrate stars who stop eating or subsist on nothing but spinach to look “good” for roles.

“We have a huge diet industry, a 60 billion dollar diet industry, that really reinforces that idea that we are not a sufficient person if we are not thin,” says Amy Farrell, author of Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture. “If we’re thin, we’re a superior person and if we’re fat, we are an inferior person.”