Weight Loss
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Obesity - the punch line of all good jokes


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I posted this in my journal, but thought I'd post it here as well for all to see.

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My journal entry yesterday on Greenies made me really think long and hard about what's funny and what's not. All the replies really made me think - it's remarkable and true: obesity is the punch line to far too many jokes. The more I reflected on this, the more I realized that I make fat jokes.

And the butt of those jokes is nearly always me.

Yech.

As I reflected on humour, I wondered what purpose it serves us to poke fun at the weakest groups in society. Oh, I don't mean to say that women, greenies or obese people are a bunch of wimps, I mean that as a group, they are the least likely to be the victimizers. When is the last time you heard of a group of woman banding together in an uprising against overt sexism, like the stuff that 3monkeys and I recited in sports teams? Or when is the last time obese people got up on stage, even in singles, to throw one-liners out to the audience about thin, healthy people WITHOUT some reference to their own obesity being part of the punch-line? On the rare occasions when a member of one of these groups steps out of line, it becomes the punch line for new humour: is there anyone here who doesn't know at least one Lorena Bobbit joke?

And yet - are there any jokes at all about the recent news on the guy in Texas who beat his wife to death with his bare fists? Good ol' whatshisname?

Why is it that when a man commits an act of hatred against his wife, we tut-tut and discuss the need for new laws, but when a woman commits some act of hatred against her husband, we laugh ourselves senseless at her as we make a whole new stand-up routine?

Part of what I see is a commentary on the balance of power in our society. The sad part is that in our society, obesity robs people of their own sense of power and turns an otherwise normal person into an object of ridicule. As objects of ridicule, obese people lack even the basic power of fear, which in our society can often interchange with respect. For example, we may be nice to the neighbor who keeps a loaded gun by his front door, not because we respect him, but because we fear the sort of person who would do this. Either way, you won't find us blowing leaves over the fence into his yard. On the other hand, if there is anything we fear about an obese person, it is mockingly delivered with some concern about them sitting on us. Blow the leaves from our yard over the fence? Bwahaha. Good one.

Before anyone asks where I am going with this, I'm not on my way to calling for a great, armed CC uprising. Macing the next relative who says, "you'd be so pretty if you lost weight" might be a temporary fix to getting the family to stop yammering on, but it really won't create respect - or even fear - for any length of time. Because society knows that all fat people are jolly, we'd only be called ill-tempered. It's not a solution. As a jolly group, we do much better when we're laughing.

But I am calling for something: an end to making it easy to poke fun at obese people.

We lay ourselves open to ridicule when we make self-deprecating comments. We lay ourselves further open to trampling our self-worth by throwing away our own dignity when we make self-deprecating comments. In either case, when we shoot ourselves down, we make it easier to poke fun at obese people.

So, no more "I'd be pretty if," or "I'd look better if." No more comments about how I look when I jog. No more comments about how I look when I brush my teeth. No more, "I feel pretty good, but I..." From now on, I am not a beautiful woman, but I need to lose weight; instead: I am a beautiful woman.

AND - I expect the same from you.

No looking in the mirror and thinking you're attractive, but... or you're smart, BUT... From this moment on, you are a person of value. More importantly, you always were.
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That was a lovely post, thank you. I've thankfully never gotten the "You'd be so pretty if..." because my family has a tendency to just ignore weight issues, but if I ever did I know what my reaction would be: To stare blankly and say "I'm pretty now," and walk away.
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Very well written
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That was wonderful !!!..With these few short paragraphs, you brought tears to my eyes, made me giggle and you hit home. One of my favorite lines when encouraging fellow CC members is" you are worth it ". Of course I know this is true, we are all worth getting healthy, we are all worth loving. Worth being loved by others but most of all by ourselves. I even know that loving ourselves is something we must do in order to love others and allow others to love us in a way that is fulfilling, in a way that brings true happiness. As a matter of fact, I had a long talk with my daughter a few days ago about just that. But reading your post I realized that despite all my wisdom and all my preachings, I do exactly what you write about. I never refer to my bum as a nice bum, a firm bum or even just a bum. Its always a "Fatass"! My tummy is always my "GUT", thighs "bubblethighs", neck "flabbyneck" and so on and so on. I dont know why I do it. Maybe I want to hear my husband say its not so, maybe I want him to tell me Im wrong. But I dont think Im compliment fishing because he does nothing but compliment me. He makes me feel nothing but beautiful. Its me who constantly undermines what Im trying to do and what he tries to make me see. When I see overweight people on the street I feel for them but I also find myself thinking " I hope I dont waddle like that " or " I hope I dont look like that " Wow, writing this down makes me sound almost paranoid. Hmmmmmm...this has really got me thinking.

But anyway, I think Ive become a little wiser after reading this post. This week my mini goal is not going to be my usual lose a pound or exercise this many hours but its going to be to " Love and Respect Myself ". After all, Ive been exercising, Ive been losing pounds, Ive been eating right but love and respect for myself are still on the back burner.

Once again, THANK you so very much for writing this post cmillington.
What an insightful post.  I can so relate.  For example, before my weight loss I offered to help coach my kids' indoor soccer team.  The skinny woman who is coaching completely ignored me and preferred doing it herself, I can only guess that she found me too fat to coach a sport.  That was a part of my motivation for weight loss, for people to no longer "have something on me" that makes me not count. 

However, I rarely to never make self-deprecating comments, but I'll keep up the good work and pay strict attention to what I do say.
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This is the number one reason that I'm losing weight. I mean, obviously there's a variety of other reasons, but this is the number one. People simply do not give me the respect I deserve, because what's the use of listening to someone when they're not even smart enough to manage their own weight issues?

That's the attitude I feel I get when talking to people; that they don't quite take me seriously. It could all be in my head, but admitting that doesn't really make it go away, does it? :p

But I hate the judgement. I hate the attitude that I'm somehow inferior to someone who weighs less than me, because I have a personality weakness that is more physically visible than theirs. And oh no, make no mistake about it - they do have weaknesses. Everyone does. But just because mine are visible from the outside does not mean that I am worth less than you, or him, or her or anyone.


I really appreciated this post. :) Thanks.
Thanks for the feedback everyone. :-)

<smooches entire thread>
Humans are superficial. They see someone who looks "abnormal" so they feel it's ok to poke fun at them. I also think that people mentally disassociate obese people with being human, and thus feel that they can make fun without having any sort of consequences. Which makes me irate, to say the least. That's when I start ranting on how "normal" is completely relative. :D

Congrats to you for embracing yourself. A lot of people don't have the courage to do so. I decided a long time ago that if I want to lose weight, it would be to make myself feel better about myself, and to be healthy, not to fit into someone else's ideal of what is beautiful.

When I was in college, over one summer a lost a lot of weight. I got down to my lowest at around 115. I had the same thought, "If I'm skinny people will like me more." Sure, I got lots of attention from guys, but I wasn't respected for who I was. Most guys saw me and stereotyped me at "skinny dumb coed", and we all know where that leads. It was purely about the physical, and I never focused my attributes on the physical. It's always been my brain (I am so proud of my intelligence!).

So, I gained some weight back, was happier with who I was, inside and out. No longer got asked on as many dates, but I got the one that counted. 2 years and going strong, baby. :) My boyfriend loves me for me, mind and body, despite how much I weigh. He supports me in my quest to lose weight to be healthier, and is helping out where he can, but he never tells me that I should lose weight to be "prettier" or to make him happy. 

I don't see a change in society any time soon, but I think it's just a matter of learning to love ourselves. As cliche as that sounds.
You are so very right, Dolce.

I also believe that when we love ourselves, we find it harder to use food as a crutch. In all seriousness, do we comfort eat when we view our bodies as a temple... or do we comfort eat when we feel we're spinning out of control?

Perhaps the end to obesity isn't as simple as a little more self-love, but I would say without hesitation that it's part of the plan.
I thought this was exceptionally thought provoking and recognize that i make self-deprecating remarks in real life all the time ~ as a mechanism for getting along with people.  Hate when others do it.... as i see their value and appreciate them for who they are.  I have a hard time affording myself the same acceptance and appreciation and that is something i'm working on.  It is a learned behaviour methinks, long standing that goes back years and years and perhaps even was passed down in the family.  So changing that is hard but we do need to change it; both within ourselves and within society. 

Change in the world occurs when a chorus of voices demand change; when the bigot no longer feels comfortable to spew their poison or treat others as inferior.  It may not go away for generations, but today is a good day to start the change....

1 small voice, persistant... unyielding... persuasive... can make a difference....

....  a famous voice.... but 1 who led the way by example:

all about Martin Luther King, the civil disobedience, the speeches, timeline, biography and more:

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/mlkjrday1.html

Excerpt from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech (as found at this link)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered this speech on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Washington, D.C., Lincoln Memorial during the march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. For the full text, see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers project at Stanford University, www.stanford.edu/group/king .



"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ??We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.? I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

See also additional excerpts from Martin Luther King's speeches.
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