Chris Christie is the governor of New Jersey. Many in the Republican party want him to run for President although he says that he does not want to run. Governor Christie is also fat. David Letterman spent some time last night making a series of fat jokes about him. I found them to be more mean-spirited then Letterman’s normal fare (as did the LA Times – trigger warning: It contains the jokes and the comments are, sadly, what you would expect.)
The argument goes that David Letterman makes fun of Donald Trump’s hair and Lindsey Lohan’s dress so it’s ok to make fun of Chris Christie’s body.
First, I’m not particularly a fan of David Letterman or his style of making fun of people for laughs. The thing that makes Christie stand out to me is that there aren’t a ton of kids with Donald Trumps hair, and there aren’t a lot of kids who are forced to wear Lindsay Lohan’s dress everyday. But there are a lot of fat kids, and making jokes about Governor Christie being fat sends fat kids (and fat adults) the message that no amount of accomplishment will ever stop the fat jokes. You could be a state governor being asked to run for President of the United States and people will still be making the same dumbass jokes that you heard in elementary school.
This is in the same vein of Jennifer Hudson’s comment that before Weight Watchers her “whole world was can’t” when before WW she was a finalist on American Idol, won a Grammy for her first CD, an Oscar for her first film, and 29 other awards. But she just couldn’t get anything done because the was fat. Right.
Of course the diet companies want us to believe that no accomplishment is good enough until we are thin. If we stop believing that, they might lose some of their 60 Billion Dollars a year.
I think that David Letterman’s actions are an example of a frequent occurrence. We see it in internet comments and personal conversations, even news interviews. The diet company has managed to make David Letterman into a walking advertisement for them. He starts the ball rolling with the whole “it’s ok to make fun of fatties because they could stop all the stigma if they would just find a way to be more aesthetically pleasing to me” then everyone in the comments chimes in with all the rest of the rhetoric we know so well. Like these idiots who send me hate mail thinking that they are powerful and badass when they are really little workers for the diet industry – and they do it for free – what’s the word for that…
So, I think tragically, fat people hide. Not because they want to, but because they don’t want to be publicly humiliated. So they don’t run for city council, they don’t take that class, they don’t go to the gym, they don’t go for their Ph.D to become a professor, they turn down that opportunity to speak at a local organization. Not because they don’t want to do these things, but because they fear the junior high school teasing that can come along with it.
This is the outcome of a society where we use body size as a proxy for health, and where we think it’s ok to judge people for their health. Taken separately both of those are horrible ideas but together they create a toxic society where fat and the fear of being fat chip away at self-esteem, happiness, and eventually for some physical and mental health. This is everyone’s problem but the solution will start with a few of us.
Those of us who say NO.
No, I will not allow my life choices to be limited by someone else’s juvenile bad behavior.
No, I do not care what you think of me.
No, I will not put my life at risk with dangerous surgery in the hopes that you will stop being mean to me.
No, you cannot live in my head rent free. Hell, you can’t live in my head even if you paid rent.
No, I will not give you the power to hurt me or limit me in any way.
No, you cannot have my lunch money any more.
And those of us who say YES:
Yes, I love to dance so I’ll see you in class on Saturday.
Yes, I’d love to talk about how I xeriscaped my lawn at the homeowners association meeting.
Yes, I love myself and my body and it’s awesome.
Yes, I am running for Congress, vote for me!
There is power in yes and no, and it’s ours for the taking.