I’m Fat and I’m Not Offended
That great epitome of Dark Romanticism Edgar Allan Poe once said the following words: “whether people grow fat by joking, or whether there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never been quite able to determine…”. Excellent quote and yes, I must say that he has every right to be confused. One would have to live under a rock if they haven’t heard all those ‘yo mama is so fat’ jokes floating around these days despite the setting being a world that is supposedly ‘sensitive’ and ‘careful’ not to offend.
Be it on the silver screen, television, radio, comic strips, the internet, any form of media, overweight people are ubiquitously present for the sole purpose of being ridiculed. First of all I would like to make it clear that this post is not intended to come across as a ‘fat acceptance’ propaganda, but as one could surmise from the title, it is about being fat and not offended at these jokes. Again, the media seems very adamant to attach to overweight people a niche which these same people never asked for in the first place: namely, where the laughs are, the fatty is somewhere near.
It is no secret at all that the world favors the skinny to the extent that anorexia is often times glorified as some sort of ‘gorgeous people’s disease’ when in reality a keen comedian if willing, could crack a joke or two regarding the frankly ridiculous notion anorexics have that the more skeletal they look, the sexier they would turn out to be. But no comedian would even dare.
Remember, in order to be ‘funny’, one exclusively has to make fun of fat people.
And it’s not just whether being fat predisposes someone to being the butt of jokes which Edgar Allan Poe has to be confused about, but the scorn and in some cases, hate that the overweight experience at the hands of not only comedians but really, from everyone. Excuse the comparison (I’m not being bitter here at all), but anorexic people aside from being glamorized are showered upon with sympathy and support, whereas the fatty is simply looked down as being ‘a hopeless case’. Sure enough, the suffering of anorexics is not something trivial, but given their shaky relationship (or lack thereof) with food, it is but reasonable to conclude that being overweight or obese and being anorexic are two ends of the same spectrum.
But then again the media begs to differ. In comedy, one merely has to have weight issues in order to be considered ‘funny’; in soap operas, the evil stepmother or importunate in-laws often sport thick physiques; in action films, the head criminal is most likely to have a gargantuan belly with double chins; and in romantic comedies, the fat one is almost always the loser with no girlfriend.
Albeit the stated examples are not always the case, it paints a picture of how the media and therefore the people they are able to influence, view overweight people.
It is needless to point out that it would be wishful thinking for this world to portray overweight females as damsels in distress nor to have fat males as dashing debonaire for the simple reason that it is not natural in the same way that it is not natural for magazines to put anorexic ladies on a pedestal wherein they are viewed as the ideal of what ‘beautiful’ looks like. The natural way of course is to admire healthy bodies and sound minds.
Going back to my point, to be offended at all with the jokes directed at fat people is a form of submission to the status quo. What’s wrong with that mindset ultimately has to do with the fact that the status quo is very much skewed to the advantage of a particular people with a definite ideology that unlike what they say embraces each other’s differences and therefore unites all, in fact aims to divide everyone to produce class warfare.
This is not something one could change overnight given that we are used to it, used to have people make fun of and belittle (note the irony) fat people, but we, including myself, as fat people, could start with not being offended. But we should not do does in a haughty manner as that would defy the purpose; it should be done in a polite way that exudes grace and humility. However, that is not to say that an overweight person should dismiss comments about his or her weight as simply a product of prejudice- no, in fact, it could very well be a wake up call to better health. Furthermore, the most important thing is to do something about the problem of being overweight. Try to maintain a well-balanced diet, exercise at least twenty minutes per day, learn how to be disciplined when it comes to food intake, and do our best not to live a sedentary lifestyle. So the next time someone makes fun of us for our weight, we need not get offended especially if we know within ourselves that we are doing something about it.
I read somewhere that success is the best form of revenge and if shedding a couple of pounds won’t shut the detractors up then I don’t know what will.