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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Big

The other night, I watched a very uncomfortable exchange. Let me set the scene. It was the Late Show with David Letterman during his interview with actor/comic Kevin James. James was on the movie tour grind promoting his latest movie, "The Dilemma", and Letterman, apparently, was on his own voyage to the land of Jackhole as he savaged James at every turn about his larger-than-most body. Each question was like jamming a fork into the thigh - violent, rude, and intrusive. Did you have to shop at a big and tall shop? Did you know you were so fat? What the hell??? That the former "King of Queens" star didn't haul off and slap Letterman should settle the matter of whether we larger folks have self-discipline once and for all!

While the statistics continue to tell the story of how we, as a country, are becoming larger, with the constant deluge of hurtful remarks aimed at the obese, I figure that we must be a country of chunky self-loathers! That same night of the Kevin James interview, a quick trip up and down the cable box yielded even more fat fodder, including George Lopez whose opening monologue was especially nasty. All that was missing was the Kirstie Alley reference, but I'm sure somewhere, someone was on it!

As the country is taking a pause to clean up the chorus of coarseness in political discourse, maybe we can take a beat and lay off of the fat jokes. Heck, even the term, "fat joke" is intentionally dehumanizing because that ridicule is an exercise in the hatred of fat people. I feel like Charlton Heston screaming about Soylent Green - it's people!!

Now, I realize that for some of you it's a hard habit to break - either making fun of larger people or laughing at jokes told by others about us lovely large folk. And you're not helped by some larger folk who use self-deprecating humor to cover up their own insecurity about their bodies. Humor, after all, is supposed to help people feel comfortable. But, you see, the math doesn't add up: if a larger person uses self-hating humor about their bodies to make other people feel better, nobody actually wins here. The larger person has just reinforced their own feelings of lack of self worth, and their thinner conversation partner only feels awkward at being in the presence of someone who obviously dislikes themselves. So let's just stop!

While we're at it, here are several more changes that may help end the siege on my more Botticelli-esque brothers and sisters:

  1. Eliminate the B-roll fatties! - If you've ever watched a news program, then surely you've seen the B-roll fatties. You may have even been one yourself! Whenever there's a story to be covered on dieting, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc., et al, you can count on seeing video images of bodies captured from the shoulders down walking down crowded city sidewalks, or down grocery store aisles. These faceless bodies will be plus-sized and if the cameraman can get the prize package of one of these people struggling up a flight of steps then SCOREEEEEEEE!!! It's like a silent movie, but the soundtrack is the voiceover from a 115-pound news anchor tossing to commercial with the insistent news music bed playing underneath. Enough!! News producers, if you're doing a story about fat people, don't stalk us like it's friggin' Wild Kingdom. Man up and actually interview a larger person. Talk to us! Yes, you'll get some "no" responses, but you'll eventually get a yes.
  2. End the Airline Injustice - The friendly skies declared war on the plus-sized decades ago, as far as I'm concerned, when they designed those damn bathrooms. But they took the war to new heights with the introduction of the "second seat" requirement for more shapely passengers. Let's be real, if airlines hadn't been so greedy - smaller seats and smaller seating radius to insure max numbers of passengers and max profits - we wouldn't have that guy from those Jay and Silent Bob movies suing major air carriers for violating the civil rights of larger citizens! 
  3. Hollywood, Come out of the Husky Closet!! - Were you as shocked as I was when uber-manscaped Ryan Seacrest made public the photos of his former plus-sized self?? There he was, a chubby child, and look at him now. In fact, I should have been tipped off that he was a former big guy. He has an astonishing amount of discipline and energy and he always seems like he's not really at ease with people. I want to know about the other Ryan Seacrests because maybe hearing their story will help a larger person who's feeling nervous about setting a healthy weight loss goal. And no, Renee Zellweger, this does not mean that we want to hear you wax philosophical on you force-feeding yourself so that you could pack on some curves for those Bridget Jones movies. Watching you play "fat" was as grating on my nerves as hearing your faux-Brit accent  must've been for my British peeps.   
I'm just saying:)

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