Should Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand out the man who called her ‘porky’?

In her new memoir, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), shown in July, cites instances in which congressional colleagues made insensitive remarks about her weight.
In her new memoir, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), shown in July, cites instances in which congressional colleagues made insensitive remarks about her weight.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Part of me is really enjoying the silly discussion on Twitter this morning about whether Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is morally obligated to reveal the identities of the Senate colleagues who made insensitive remarks about her wildly fluctuating post-baby weight. Or, as I like to think of it, were acting completely normal.

Show me a woman who has never heard an insensitive remark about her weight and I will show you … well, actually, I can’t think of anything to show you, because such a woman does not exist.

Show me a unicorn?

This kerfuffle began Wednesday, when People magazine posted a tease to its interview of Gillibrand on the occasion of the publication of her new memoir, “Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice to Change the World.” People reporters Tara Fowler and Sandra Sobieraj Westfall write:


“Gillibrand, 47, shares a sobering incident in the congressional gym, where an older, male colleague told her, ‘Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!’ On another occasion, she writes, after she dropped 50 lbs. one of her fellow Senate members approached her, squeezed her stomach, and said, ‘Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!’

“Gillibrand isn’t especially offended by her coworkers’ remarks. ‘It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,’ she says. ‘They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.’ ”

Soon, people who fail to grasp the absolute ordinariness of this sort of insult (i.e. men) began to cast doubt on Gillibrand’s account.

“I challenge this story,” tweeted Politico congressional reporter John Bresnahan. “Sorry, I don’t believe it.”

The furies of hell were soon unleashed on poor Bresnahan, who quickly followed up with a second tweet: “Completely moronic tweet by me on People magazine piece re Sen. Gillibrand. No excuse for popping off. I apologize.”

On behalf of hell’s furies, John, apology accepted.

As a woman whose weight has been the subject of “helpful” comments too many times to recall, I can only laugh at the idea that anyone would cast doubt on Gillibrand’s casual remarks that some old farts made stupid comments about her weight.


And yet, Thursday morning, the conversation raged on. New York Times political reporter Nick Confessore wondered via Twitter: “Shouldn’t Gillbrand name these Senate guys who fat-shamed her? Doesn’t she kind of have a responsibility to name them?”

Oh, for heaven’s sakes. We’re not talking Bob Packwood here. We’re not talking about sexual harassment, or even, really, fat shaming. (Hey, that one guy said he likes ‘em chubby!)

We are simply talking about the kind of offhand remark to which the pudgy have been subjected forever.

The men who made such comments to Gillibrand are not “harassers.” Gillibrand is most certainly not a “victim.” And this is not an Anita Hill moment.

It does offer an object lesson to men, however: If ever you are tempted to remark on a female colleague’s weight, just shove a doughnut in your mouth til the urge passes.

Follow me on Twitter, where I will never comment on your weight: @robinabcarian