POETRY / FICTION
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What casualties are "Acceptable"?!
I can't count the number of times I've brought this to the limelight but until people start taking this seriously, nothing will ever change. The fact is that in this day and age if you make a joke about race or gender, you get branded racist/sexist and live with that brand forever and get the privilege of passing it down to your children to boot. This is also becoming more prevalent in the fight for equal treatment based on age as well. As a result of losing the targets once perceived as comedic failsafes, the talentless hacks of Hollywood set their sights on a new group to disenfranchise - the overweight.
Actually, even giving them a collective name is only accurate in the eye of the most shallow among humankind as physiology among homo sapiens varies radically from one subject to the next (for instance, a healthy weight and height for, say, my sister, would not be healthy for me). The best evidence I've yet to be presented with saying that there could possibly be a uniform measurement is the system known as the Body Mass Index (BMI) which, in its simplest form, is one's height times one's mass squared. Someone who managed to pass the third grade could tell you the fallacy behind that sort of logic - if you were to do that, you'd be measuring a perfectly square cardboard cut-out of that person and assuming their bodily composition is uniform. This fails to take into account guys with exceptionally large shoulders (like me), a lady's *ahem* assets, or even the fact that body composition is made up of bone, tissue, liquid and even empty space. As a result of this mathematical loophole you could drive a Boeing 747 through, the entirety of the National Football League are classified as "Morbidly Obese". Way to go, BMI.
Now that I've gotten THAT out of the way, I can go on. Society has taken their collective crosshair and put it over those they see as "less" human than they are: people of size. Plus sizes to be exact. Seriously, can you name a single show, movie, game or book that touted plus-sizers in a generally positive lighting wherein the moral was not "it's on the inside that counts"? The only one that springs to mind - and it sort of pains me to admit it as I'm by no means a fan of the show - was Roseanne. Both parents were overweight, but apart from that, average people in an average setting with little emphasis put on the fact they were bigger. (And not to toot my own horn, but Angela in my novel - The Dragon of the Desert Wind was presented in a generally positive light in spite of her grievances with the shallow boy, Drift). Instead, in most media the fat person is the walking, living target - humiliated, degraded and generally dehumanized before the end of the first week, let alone the first season. However, you'll never see any negative repercussions to this behavior except in MAYBE one "Very special episode" where the rest of the cast kinda-sorta-not-really apologizes before returning to the way things were in order to maintain the status quo. After all, if you try to personalize and generally make a sympathetic and likeable character out of a plus-sized person (Especially if the target victim happens to be female) you will make the audience actually try something new and attempt to relate to the character. In addition, in media any sort of circumstances that could justify the character’s body type (wide skeletal frame, glandular issues or genetic factors) are all played for laughs instead of acknowledging that they're real conditions that can plague people in reality. Again, a male will get off far easier than a female in this case. (IE: The Drew Carey Show, for instance. Drew is presented in a sympathetic lighting. Mimi is a caricature of what the comedians WANT us to think. Makes me wonder what the writing staff looked like...)
This, unfortunately, translates all too well into reality, where a guy can get an easy slip as being a "fat guy" but "No fat chick" jokes run rampant across the real plane and the internet. For a rather blunt example, just pick a popular cartoon show aimed for older age demographics (ex. Family Guy or The Simpsons) where the fat, useless, stupid guy ends up with a skinny and otherwise attractive female and even a lot of sitcoms do the same (just pick one and your bound to nail an example). Women get it much harder than men, but that's not to say men don't get a hard time about it either. We're often left with broken Aesops in media where the story SEEMS to attempt a moral, only to turn it on its head making the moral more like "If you hope hard enough, you can get skinny overnight" instead of "You should love you for you, and change only for yourself, not because society tells you that you should conform to their unreal expectations". (The Nickelodeon hit, Doug was guilty of this with the prom episode concerning Connie, the throw-a-way token "chubby girl" where the moral ended up basically being "It's okay to lie to people if they're not attractive to you" and the anime GaoGaiGar: The King of Braves in an early episode concerning an overweight man who, rather than dealing with his issues or accepting himself, got a miracle "fix" courtesy of the alien metal that had briefly possessed him.)
Fun fact time, class! Do you know what the three biggest industries in the western hemisphere are? I'll tell you: pornography, cosmetics and the dieting industries. Fascinating correlation, no? All these three industries have a uniform target - young girls. Barbies, Bratz, and just about anything from Japan all tell young girls you have to be super skinny and yet have at least a D-cup chest to be attractive. This takes absurdity and cranks it up to 11. The standards of beauty are ever-changing and usually fluctuate between skinny and big every couple centuries culture factors notwithstanding (IE: When bigger women were the rage in Europe, Egyptians considered obesity on-par with some of the most grievous diseases known to them at the time) and people also fail to consider personal physiology or personal preferences in mates. I, for one, happen to prefer bigger women (that's not to say I won't date skinny girls, it's just a preference, not a fetish) but the reaction I've gotten from some people is just ludicrous. My sister actually told me, upon learning my preference, that saying I prefer bigger women was equivalent to claiming I like "chicks with no arms and an infectious disease". Other reactions tend to be more in jest, such as the constant ribbings from my friends, such as "You must want to be an astronomer dude, because you dig the planets!" As a matter of verification, look it up - it's "Heavenly bodies".
So, after all this, what's my point? The bottom line is simple - all humans are beautiful for no other reason than we are human. Race, gender, socio-economic status, height, weight, age, makes no difference, any of it. All humans are beautiful and to dehumanize one group for cheap laughs only seems to indicate to me that we need a new writing staff and to really think about what we're saying. You can argue about the "health risks" all you'd like, but that doesn't mean a thing if you're telling the person they're worth less because they're not your cookie-cutter preference. We live in America, a country where we've made plenty of mistakes and paid for it dearly. We live in a country that used to condone racism and sexism, but we've improved with each passing day and, darn it, we can improve on this one too. To quote our own Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Written by: Jeff
|"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce
|"Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever."