On his radio show today Rush Limbaugh attacked First Lady Michelle Obama for not looking skinny enough. Limbaugh said, “The point is. If you are going to do this, if you are going to tell everyone to eat twigs and berries and gravel and all this other stuff, you’d better look like an Ethiopian.”
Here is the audio from Media Matters:
Limbaugh said, “The previous caller said and I ought to know this, that it doesn’t matter what we eat, but how much. Well, okay, fine, but Moochelle Obama is trying to tell us what we can and can’t eat, not how much, and the point is, it just, and the point is. If you are going to do this, if you are going to tell everyone to eat twigs and berries and gravel and all this other stuff, you’d better look like an Ethiopian. You’d better look like that’s what you eat. Otherwise, it’s going to fall on deaf ears. It’s just that simple.”
Rush’s latest argument against First Lady Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity is that because she does not look like an African who has been emaciated by starvation, she has no credibility. The problem is that Rush Limbaugh is still distorting the point of Michelle Obama campaign against childhood obesity.
According to the New York Times, Mrs. Obama directly confronted the idea that she is trying to tell people what to eat, “I haven’t spoken to one expert about this issue who has said the solution is having government tell us what we can do. There is a place in this life for cookies and ice cream and burgers and fries that is a part of childhood. This is just about balance, about really small changes that can add up, like walking to school when you can, replacing soda with water or skim milk, trimming portions just a little.”
The fact is that healthy people do not look like they are starving. People who are seriously underweight are just as unhealthy as those who are overweight. Michelle Obama isn’t telling anyone what to eat. She is simply trying to encourage parents and kids to make better food choices. Americans are woefully undereducated about both what is in the foods that they eat, and what foods make up a healthy diet. Only in the minds of the most deranged Americans could a program designed to encourage childhood healthy eating be warped into a totalitarian food mandate.
By comparing the First Lady to an Ethiopian, Rush Limbaugh also managed to call Michelle Obama fat. Michelle Obama isn’t overweight. Unlike many of her critics, she gets up at 4:30 am every day to workout. Limbaugh and other men who call the First Lady fat or make fun of her weight are perpetuating the male imposed image of the ideal female. Comments like Limbaugh’s are the kind of attacks that create negative body image perceptions for both women and girls.
Limbaugh is engaging in a form of gender attack designed to demean Michelle Obama’s ideas and messages by sexualizing them. In essence, his point is that Michelle Obama has no credibility because she is an unattractive fat woman, and since she is unattractive to the eyes of Limbaugh her intellectual message has no merit.
Rush Limbaugh lacked the intellectual ability to discussing the concept of reducing childhood obesity as policy, so he made the discussion about the physical appearance of the First Lady. This is the application of the fear based insecure conservative white male notion of power in action. Sarah Palin’s ideas have merit because Rush Limbaugh thinks she is an attractive Republican. Michelle Obama is the devil because she is, in his opinion, a fat Democrat.
Limbaugh may think he is scoring political points with his audience, but in reality he, and the men on both the left and right who consciously or not judge women in the same way, are nothing but intimidated little boys trapped in men’s bodies. If a man needs to sexualize a woman to gain power over her during a political discussion, then he isn’t man enough to be having the discussion in the first place. Right, Rush?