Plain of feature, and certainly overweight

Colleen McCullough was a best-selling novelist, and more.

Before becoming a full-time author, McCullough was a researcher at Yale medical school. And in between her time in New Haven and her global literary pursuits, she established the neurophysiology department at Syndey’s Royal North Shore hospital. She published her first novel, Tim, in 1974; her last, Bittersweet, in 2013. She was still working on a sequel when she died yesterday, at age 77, in a hospital on Norfolk Island.

But who cares about all that, amirite? Was she hot?? Was she gorgeous, was she thin, did she wear clothes well, did she decorate the place? Or did she fall down on all that?

The second sentence of her obit in a rag called the Australian comes clean on her aesthetic failure:

Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth.

Well now how can that be? If you’re a woman who is plain of feature and certainly overweight, then obviously you’re also witless and cold. That’s god’s plan – you have beautiful women who are also warm and clever, and you have ugly women who are hostile and boring. It’s more fair that way.

Men, of course, are allowed to look like unmade beds. That’s god’s plan too.

Think Progress is scathing, although not really scathing enough.

This is the sort of idiocy you’d think someone at the paper might catch. An editor, perhaps. Someone on the copy desk. Literally any human who saw it. But nope, here it is, and we can’t even blame the punishing publish-first-think-later evils of the internet, for as you can see from the highlighted image above, this appeared in a Traditional Legacy Print Newspaper Made From Only The Finest Trees.

Well at least Twitter is making lemonade of this, under the hashtag .

I love Craig Ferguson’s.

Although a shouty malodorous vulgarian he nevertheless enjoyed most episodes of house hunters international.

But there are a lot of good ones. All by the beautiful of course; the other kind can’t do funny.


  1. Al Dente says

    I particularly liked the tweet about Rupert Murdoch:

    A handsome or scrupulous man he was not. Yet he rotted the minds of millions, and got rich doing it.

  2. says

    The Plain of Feature, flat for miles in all directions, interrupted by the occasional high cheekbone, pair of bee-stung lips, square jaw, or strangely endearing little mole.

  3. dexitroboper says

    It’s not Australian Photograph, it was The Australian which is
    a) Australia’s national daily
    b) A “serious” newspaper
    c) Part of News Corp
    d) a rag

  4. says

    The Oz is also Rupert’s vanity project that has to be sustained by injections from more profitable News Corporation ventures. The stockholder meetings regularly call for it to be sold off (if anyone would buy it) or just wound down, but Rupert won’t agree, because by having the national broadsheet peddling the opinions of his conservative thinktank pundits he gets to scare the politicians into following his right wing agenda.

    I’ve just been rereading the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2003 article about the conservative bugaboo term “Cultural Marxism” and how it’s being used to reframe social criticism and “political correctness” as a conspiracy to undermine Western culture. It’s part and parcel of how The Australian and Fox News and News Corps tabloids frame their news coverage of everything to belittle and trivialise any reports of racism, sexism, queerphobia etc as things that either don’t really matter or are in fact the way that things ought to be. To the sorts of minds who express dread of other people saying that men and women don’t have to be confined in rigid gender boundaries, or that no ethnic group is necessarily inherently superior to any other, or that non-heteronormative sexualities can be just as an affirming as heterosexuality; to those sorts of minds a woman such as Colleen McCullough who exuded Not Giving A Flying Fuck about squishing herself down into any externally imposed Acceptable Woman box, and who “nevertheless” managed to become rich and famous without buying into any of their bullshit? How could she be anything other than an affront to their worldview, and how could they respond otherwise that by belittling her with respect to the one thing about women they think really matters?

    I don’t believe in any afterlife, but for the last few days I’ve enjoyed imagining Colleen raucously guffawing over the #myozobituary hashtag. I’m sure the global outpouring of pointed mockery would have delighted her.

  5. says

    I loved her books about Rome; they’re tons of fun.
    She also dwells on the women of Rome, which I thought was a good thing. What was Caesar’s wife like? And his mother? Her characterizations are seamless; it’s really hard to tell what is “real history” and what she added — or, it would be, if she didn’t include fairly meticulous notes on exactly that, for the curious. Good stuff! Highly recommended! I’m sad to hear she’s gone, but she left something behind that will make many people happy for years. The writers of those obits: not so much.

  6. says

    Of course this made me feel like google image-searching Colleen McCullough. I note one thing in most of the photos of her: her face is made of smiles. She’s either outright smiling, or looks like she’s about to, or about to laugh. Hers was a face that was well lived-in.

  7. says

    Ya that’s another thing – it occurred to me much later that come to think of it what are they even talking about? I wouldn’t call her “plain” at all! Even if I did make a habit of announcing that Ms X is “plain,” which I don’t – but if I did – why would I say it of her?

    Maybe the idea is “she didn’t look like Sophia Vargara but” – but surely that would be a ridiculous thing to bother pointing out in any news item, let alone an obit.

  8. Lofty says

    The Australian being a publication I have far less interest in reading than FTB.

    Collen McCullogh was an independent and successful woman, all that Murdoch’s sycophants hate.

  9. rrede says

    I was reading backwards, so didn’t see this post before commenting on the later one (with her pictures). Glad to see that you all picked up on the fat shaming as well–fantastic post and comments.

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