What Rush Limbaugh Has To Say About Michelle Obama, And Why I Don’t Care

What Rush Limbaugh Has To Say About Michelle Obama, And Why I Don’t Care

Look at her arms!

Listen… if it weren’t for so many people e-mailing me asking me what I think of all this… I wouldn’t be posting this, here. The thoughts of an overweight, balding and rather miserably unfortunate individual matter neither to First Lady Michelle Obama nor me.

I’d be lying if I didn’t frown up my face a little bit at the fact that this all came up right when I was preparing my post about body image, unrealistic perceptions and the media. Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances of the individual delivering the message… it isn’t lost on me that someone with a vast audience is perpetuating unrealistic perceptions and self-hate.

It also isn’t lost on me that an extremely large man is, again, expecting a woman to look like a swimsuit model on The Photoshop Diet in order to be the picture of health. I mean, let’s be honest, here. The last time Rush saw the inside of a gym was when he was staring – from the outside – in at the women on the treadmill. He just looks like he’s gross like that.

Both quotes from Mediaite:

One of the biggest (and some might say, strangest) targets of those opposed to the Obama administration has been Michelle Obama’s programs to combat childhood obesity which have been depicted as a nanny-state attempt to control what people eat. The latest attacks on these plans have also included accusations of “hypocrisy” by commenting on the First Lady’s weight in a disparaging manner. Last week, a controversial cartoon on BigGovernment featured a drawing of Obama binging on burgers. Today, Rush Limbaugh took a similar tack, railing against the First Lady for eating ribs during a vacation with her daughters.Here’s what Limbaugh had to say:

“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. Yeah, it does…what do you mean, ‘What do I mean?’ 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.”

Judging by the reaction that that comic received last week (something we can assume Limbaugh noticed), it’s pretty likely these comments will cause a bit of an uproar. [source]

…and his own follow-up:

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh made some derogatory comments about the First Lady’s weight. Today he registered how shocked he was at the uproar they caused.(Of course, the word “shocked” in the above sentence should be read as “completely unsurprised as that was clearly what he intended to happen the whole time so now he’s happily compounding the issue by making some more comments.”)

Here’s what he had to say today:

“These were highly civil comments for crying out loud. I mean, people are going nuts. USA Today, the Politico. And some people were suggesting that my comments were below the belt. Well, take a look at some pictures. Given where she wears her belts. I mean, she wears them high up there around the bust line. Isn’t just about everything about her below the belt when you look at the fashion sense she has?”

And, so, the cycle of life continues. [source]

What are my thoughts?

For one, I know that we here, in America, tend to see talking about a woman’s eating and dietary habits as a sort of sacred cow-type situation… but I feel like that’s part of what First Lady Obama has opened herself up to. I feel like its, unfortunately, part of the territory because of the climate in which we live. Never mind the fact that people will erroneously judge you. Never mind the fact that people will make inaccurate inferences about what your diet should be. When the public perceives you to be making judgments about their food choices, the public then, in turn, believes its okay to do the same to you. They may get it wrong (as evidenced, here), but they’re gonna do it anyway.

That doesn’t “excuse” the comments. That just explains why they – and the annoying little cartoon – are a bit of a non-issue to me. I’m nowhere near as important as the First Lady and, still, when people see me out they ask me if what I’m eating at that time “is in my diet.” (I never know how to answer that because…. I don’t diet.)

Oh, you missed the cartoon? Well..

BACON?????????? *jumps head-first into the Atlantic Ocean*

Second… I giggled at Limbaugh’s break down of her meal.

“And then we hear that she’s out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving.”

…because I know better. Besides, no restaurant that our President and First Lady – no matter who they are – would dine at would serve a slab of meat so massive that the meat, alone, is 1,500 calories.

The restaurant decided to speak out:

The first lady, in Vail with her daughters and some friends for the Presidents Day weekend, dined at Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail Village Saturday night, enjoying a pickled pumpkin salad with arugula and a braised ancho-chile short rib with hominy wild mushrooms and sauteed kale.

So, of course, some people are taking the short view of the short rib.

A braised short rib is a relatively lean cut of beef, braised with most of the fat cooked off. The 5-ounce serving runs about 600 calories, Liken said — a far cry from the 1,500 calories and 141 grams of fat it’s accused of.

“A proper 5-ounce portion of protein is what nutritionists say we should have,” said Kelly Liken, who launched the highly successful restaurant.

Let’s not forget that the 5-ounce rib is served with local kale, nurtured and grown by students at Eagle’s Brush Creek Elementary School.

“Kale is one of nature’s super foods,” Liken said. “There are more nutrients in the 3 ounces of kale we serve than you’ll get in a massive green salad.” [source]

Pickled pumpkin salad – with arugula – and a braised ancho-chile short rib. I don’t think that restaurant is offering anything with that high of a calorie count on their menu. (This, again, is another reason why I advocate saving your money and, instead of going out every other day, dining out less and going to the nicer restaurants. The nutritional quality is higher, the quality of the ingredients is higher and damn it, the food is better.)

What he’s doing is like a nationally syndicated version of food shaming. Just another way to imply that someone needs “dieting” advice because their looks don’t meet your standards. “You aren’t thin enough to me, therefore I need to give you advice on how to meet my standards.” Um, have y’all seen this dude? Let’s just say I’d love to see him live up to his own standards, for starters. Be the change you wish to see in the world, with your big behind.

There’s one last element of this that is especially annoying. I can’t gauge who, exactly, I’m going to piss off by bringing this up, but so be it.

A lot can be said about a society where it is acceptable for a fat white man to feel comfortable criticizing a woman’s body – a woman, who, for a long time was criticized for having arms that were too cut – let alone a Black woman’s body. Not only does he criticize her nutritional habits and her looks – because all women should aspire to look like Sports Illustrated models – but her fashion sense as well. She’s the First Lady, for goodness sake – if she were to, in fact, look like one of “A-Rod’s play things,” we’d be chastizing her for looking like a young whore instead of a prominent political official’s wife. Hell, we played her out just because she’s the first First Lady we could remember who had well-toned arms and had no qualms about showing them!

Let’s not act like Limbaugh didn’t have a chorus of listeners laughing and agreeing with him, if – for no other reason – than to ‘justifiably laugh and point at the First Family. Let’s also not act like there weren’t people who agree with his ridiculous statement. As women, society has standards that are set so high for us that they don’t even understand them anymore. They want us to be healthy, but obviously don’t know what healthy looks like – it certainly doesn’t look like mildly malnourished, pre-adolescent boy looking white women. They want to judge what we eat, but don’t know what healthy food looks like. Why do we allow society to influence our perceptions of ourselves so much? Why do we care so much about what society thinks? If I’ve educated myself on health, wellness and self-care… does society even matter? Could society’s opinion of me matter more than what I think of me?

Not. Ever. Repeat after me: Not. Ever.

And this comes to my final point. Because of all of this, I’m almost certain our First Lady doesn’t care. A blowhard – who wouldn’t know “healthy” if his intern googled it on Livestrong (much like his intern googled those short rib stats) – who feels more comfortable criticizing a woman’s body than picking up a carrot and taking a walk doesn’t really deserve this much attention. So can we go back to focusing on something important…. like, say, a nice round of yoga?

Just me?

Oh, okay.

By | 2015-03-04T22:14:25+00:00 March 4th, 2015|Health News|28 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.

28 Comments

  1. Karen February 24, 2011 at 12:55 PM - Reply

    Speaking of “erroneously” judging people…your comments about Rush Limbaugh’s appearance were a bit harsh. The man has recently lost a lot of weight which he claims is to improve his health. I thought you would commend such behavior and I never thought you would so callously judge someone based on their appearance. Not to defend Limbaugh, but as you so rightly said, Mrs. Obama is publically advocating a healthier lifestyle but to simply speak the words and not live the words is a tad hypocritical don’t you think? I appreciate the efforts of Mrs. Obama and I applaud her for tackling such an enormous issue but you better “walk the walk” if you’re going to “talk the talk.”

    • Erika February 24, 2011 at 3:04 PM - Reply

      Why, because I called him fat? Womp.

      I put him up against his own standards – not mine – and he failed. MISERABLY.

      I’ve written over 500 posts on this site about women’s body image, women’s health, anti-dieting philosophy and almost every other element of weight and wellness. I take it PERSONALLY when a fat, balding MAN does the SAME thing we rail against here, every day… with NO ONE to impose his own standards on himself. It goes unchecked. DAILY. Not here.

      You think that’s erroneous? I can accept that. I, on the other hand… don’t. I put people up against the standards they try to impose on people and I delight – gleefully – in the fact that they FAIL (like, for instance, society?). PROOF that perhaps they shouldn’t have those standards in the first place… and DOUBLE proof that they should focus less on trying to clown OTHERS and turn that inward to THEMSELVES.

      You say you’re not trying to defend Limbaugh buuuuuuut… you are. It is what it is.

      • Danielle February 24, 2011 at 4:54 PM - Reply

        “Not to defend Limbaugh, but as you so rightly said, Mrs. Obama is publically advocating a healthier lifestyle but to simply speak the words and not live the words is a tad hypocritical don’t you think?”

        So on what are we basing that she is simply “speaking the words and not living the words”? How is this incident her *not* living a healthy lifestyle?
        Is it beacause she was eating ribs? If you are saying that by the mere fact the food has a certain amount of calories, it was unhealthy and therefore ‘hypocritical’ I disagree.

        1. Eating healthy is not just the sum of how many calories you ingest. You can consume calories on lean cuisines however do you *want* to?
        2. So the rib was 600 calories (per Vail) – they are at a SKI resort where I am sure after an hour on the slopes that would be burned off.
        3. If the issue is not with the calories but with the fact that she was eating RIBS? Do you think if she was eating a 600 calorie salad there would be this outcry?
        I am no fine dining connoisseur but I think that the braised short rib at Vail – while high in calories (for what it is and the amount of ounces) is perfectly perfectly acceptable for a meat eater at a ski resort.

        • Erika February 24, 2011 at 10:21 PM - Reply

          Take it a step further, even — look at her meal:

          “The first lady, in Vail with her daughters and some friends for the Presidents Day weekend, dined at Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail Village Saturday night, enjoying a pickled pumpkin salad with arugula and a braised ancho-chile short rib with hominy wild mushrooms and sauteed kale.

          A braised short rib is a relatively lean cut of beef, braised with most of the fat cooked off. The 5-ounce serving runs about 600 calories, Liken said — a far cry from the 1,500 calories and 141 grams of fat it’s accused of..”

          Can someone tell me what, on Earth, is so wrong with that? Realistically speaking, the fact that y’all are so clueless in regards to what “healthy food” looks like is WHY y’all think you have to eat rice cakes and air burgers to lose weight… and why y’all stay losing at it.

  2. Jae Von February 24, 2011 at 1:12 PM - Reply

    I agree. I have totally ignored Rush and his childish tactics to antagonize an argument. Maybe it’s time for his next pill…. That was so below the belt and I do apologize for it. He needs to grown up and understand that his 15 mins are almost up.

  3. Timmera February 24, 2011 at 1:54 PM - Reply

    This is so frustrating, and you are complete correct, those that are laughing and agreeing with Rush are only doing so because they look for reasons to laugh at the first family. Even if she did indulge in some rib action (which clearly was not what Rush made it out to be), it’s not like she eats that way everyday. No healthy eating plan says that you cannot indulge in great moderation, really Rush is no person to talk… there isn’t much that is healthy about that man. The cartoon is ridiculous, if it wasn’t for the Barack caricature saying Michelle, no one in there right mind would think that was her. This is trying to make something out of nothing, trying to find a bad in a good thing, people will use any way possible to somehow make that first family seem horrible. It’s sickening, America has an issue, Michelle should be able to feel safe speaking out on it.

  4. Lynn Haraldson February 24, 2011 at 2:18 PM - Reply

    I can’t tell you how much I love this post! A male friend of mine is a huge Limbaugh fan (ugh) and is also built like Limbaugh, and yet has no qualms pointing out and saying something about women who are overweight when we’re in public. Your words have given me the ammunition with which to fight back, so to speak, when he does it again. I especially can’t wait to use the “pick up a carrot and take a walk” line on him 🙂

  5. Roz February 24, 2011 at 2:25 PM - Reply

    Rush Limbaugh is after ratings. He tries to be shocking, but really just comes off as the ignorant, close-minded, racist that he is. Also, since Glenn Beck’s ratings are down 50% http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101270008, Rushy’s really gotta stir the pot. Oxycodone and hydrocodone must be expensive when you buy them on the street…

  6. Denise @How Mama Got Her Swag back February 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM - Reply

    I almost died at “The last time Rush saw the inside of a gym was when he was staring – from the outside – in at the women on the treadmill. He just looks like he’s gross like that.” But I pressed on and read the rest of the article.

    To be honest, I’m sick-to-death of the attack on women from the right on all fronts, be it our weight or our reproductive choices, but I digress. No, he probably doesn’t know what a healthy woman looks like because it’s obvious he doesn’t know what a healthy MAN looks like… or else he would look like one. Really, you have to let people like him go on their tirades and show themselves. He wants attention, and unfortunately we’re giving it to him.

  7. T.R. February 24, 2011 at 3:05 PM - Reply

    *stands up to give a rightly deserved ovation* clap,clap,clap. Nothing else needs to be added. Let’s move on to enjoying life again.

  8. BAnjeeB February 24, 2011 at 3:53 PM - Reply

    You know, I kept hearing about what he said and every time I went to click a link about it I stopped. I stopped because I asked myself, is Mrs. Obama giving this dude and his comments any thought, and the answer I came up with was nope, not even a little bit. The only reason I read here was because I could see by the title that you had a similar reaction.

    Now, let me go work on my crow pose. 😉

    • Erika February 24, 2011 at 4:40 PM - Reply

      CROW!!!!! *bows to you*

  9. Lorrie February 24, 2011 at 8:04 PM - Reply

    If anything powerful was said here today it was that the women who responded mentioned that now they have a voice.

    “…you have given me ammunition with which to fight…” Lyn Haraldson

    Erika your blog empowers women to have a voice on matters no one else cares about and would not normally have their back on. When I attended a predominately white University for my post graduate education the sentiment among upper middle class whites is that black people deserve what they get and they dont feel blacks have a right to even speak up for themselves and these are YOUNG educated whites who perpetuate the stereotypes and institutionalized racism of their fathers. Well slowly but surely that sentiment is changing. One blog at a time! Keep up the good work.

  10. aisha February 25, 2011 at 11:59 AM - Reply

    I love your response it hit a lot of points spot on. Thanks

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