General / Society

Mamamia Website Apologises for ‘Fat-Shaming’ Roxane Gay

The Australian website Mamamia has apologised to feminist writer Roxane Gay for “cruel and humiliating” podcast interview, with the introduction text describing her “super-morbidly-obese frame” as “logistical nightmare”.

Gay, the writer of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, said her interview with Mia Freedman for Mamamia’s No Filter podcast to promote her new book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body was “a shit show”.

The interview, published on Monday, was accompanied with an introduction text and an article disclosing the website’s preparation for interview with Gay.

“A lot of planning has to go into a visit from best-selling author … Roxane Gay,” read the introduction text. “Will she fit into the office lift? How many steps will she have to take to get to the interview? Is there a comfortable chair that will accommodate her six-foot-three, ‘super-morbidly obese’ frame?”

In the accompanying article, which has now been deleted, Freedman said there were “more than a dozen exchanges” with Gay’s team to discuss the logistics of her visit.

“I would never normally breach the confidence of what goes on behind the scenes while organising an interview but in this case, it’s a fundamental part of her story and what her book is about,” wrote Freedman.

“You see, Roxane Gay is…I’m searching for the right word to use here. I don’t want to say fat so I’m going to use the official medical term: super morbidly obese … Her size is imposing and also a logistical nightmare for her.”

Freedman went on to discuss Gay’s publishers’s enquiries about the number of steps to the studio, the availability of a sturdy, comfortable chair, and more.

Gay responded on Twitter, “I am appalled by Mamamia. It was a shit show. I can walk a fucking mile,” she said. “‘Can she fit into the lift?’ Shame on you Mamamia.”

Mamamia issued an apology on Tuesday:

“As a publisher that’s consistently championed body diversity and representation in the media, we believe the conversations sparked by Roxane’s book are vitally important for women, and are disappointed our execution of this story hasn’t contributed in the way we intended. We’re deeply apologetic that in this instance we’ve missed the mark in contributing to this discussion.

In no way did Mamamia ever intend to make Roxane Gay feel disrespected and we apologise unequivocally that that was the unintended consequence, including to her publishing team who organised the visit and made the requests in good faith. We are mortified to think she would ever believe this to be the case or that we have upset someone we so deeply admire and respect.”