The Australian newspaper has come under fire on social media after it published an obituary of acclaimed Australian author Colleen McCullough in which it heart warmingly described her as "plain of feature" and "overweight". But don’t worry! She was also "a woman of wit and warmth". You know, despite being fat.
The column was tweeted by ABC journalist Joanna McCarthy who said that it deserved an "award for worst opening lines of an obituary"and included the hashtag #everydaysexism.
The obit has since received an avalanche of disparaging, angry and funny tweets by people angry that Australia’s most successful novelist has been reduced to her looks.
McCullough was a successful writer & neurophysiologist, but "she didn't let being fat & ugly get her down" was the best they had.
McCullough died on Thursday night at the age of 77 after a series of small strokes.
The Australian have since said that the column was penned by a writer who passed away several years ago, and that the insult laden opening paragraph should have been edited.
Not that it’s a good enough excuse.
The body shaming, and irrelevant, paragraph – which then attempts to diminish McCullough’s many, many accomplishments – is an insulting reminder that women in the public eye are still judged on their appearance. Whether they conform to society’s views on attractiveness or aggressively flaunt them. It’s difficult to image a male author being treated in such a way.
"Bryce Courtenay was one of Australia's greatest storytellers, touching the hearts of millions of people around the world with 21 bestselling books including The Power of One.
Yet the writing of men and women has long been treated differently. Women are so often corralled into the pink hued 'chick lit' box, whereas men get to be a brave 'literary genius' for writing on similar topics. It needs to change.
However there is comfort in the thought that it's difficult to imagine McCullough caring in the slightest what an obit writer thinks of her looks, or her books.
Oh, and she sold 30 million copies of her Australian classic novel The Thorn Birds, so, ah, there’s that.