Colleen McCullough created the department of neurophysiology at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, she served as head of the department for five years. She worked at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street. She taught neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neurological electronics at Yale. She wrote the best selling novels Tim and The Thorn Birds and 23 other books including cookbooks, a biography, romance, family history, crime and seven-book Roman series. She was awarded the Scanno Prize for literature and several of her books have been made into films.
These are all things that you would have learned from her obituary in The Australian, but you wouldn’t have read them until after you read this:
COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.
This appears in bold at the very front of her obituary. Before the fact that she was an accomplished scientist, or any details about her bestselling books, The Australian wanted to make sure that if people only read the bold print, they are aware that she was fat, and that they seem think it’s somehow surprising that she is also witty and warm (didn’t we just talk about this?), that she was not attractive based on the obituary author’s “standards” (which is such a ridiculous statement that I can’t believe I had to type it) and that she was able to attract men.
After being immediately criticized by, well, almost everyone, the magazine claims that the obituary was written years ago by a writer who has since died, and that it was published without proper proofreading. The magazine has also put an offer in on some beautiful ocean front property in Arizona where they plan to build a mansion for the Yeti and Abominable snowman currently living in their basement.
The statement not only appeared in the article, but appeared as the first paragraph, and in bold. If they actually knew better than to lead the obituary of an accomplished woman with a critique of her looks, then they have a serious breakdown in the copy editing department. Also, I note that I’m reading it online fourteen hours later and they haven’t changed it.
I’m already aware that, because of our fatphobic society, if I die at 112 years old because a aliens drop a space piano on my head from their mothership, people will still blame my death on my body size, so I won’t be surprised if my obituary tries to cast the body I love in a negative light, but it’s a damn shame. Lewis’s Law (coined by Helen Lewis) says that “the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism”. Perhaps we need a corollary – the obituary of a fat women in the Australian justifies fat activism and feminism.
RIP Colleen McCullough, you deserved better and you will be missed.
I’ll Come to You!
Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year. If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options. If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities. See you soon!
Like this blog? Here’s more cool stuff:
Become a Member For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. Click here for details
Buy the book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Book Me! I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details
I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com
A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.). Follow the progress on Facebook!