Tag Archives: where we’re going wrong

No Fatties: The Ethic of Funny

People urge me to try stand-up comedy. A natural, they call me. A funny girl.

And, hey, they’re right.

What, it’s wrong I should know I’m funny? I shouldn’t acknowledge it? Right, like I’ve spent my life cracking jokes so I can play the fool now.

Jokes are hard. Funny is tough. Humour’s a fine line.

I pride myself on a having higher funny “ethic” than I think most people ever will. There are things I won’t touch: I don’t insult people for their size or weight, or for their colour or abilities.

Your job, clothes, where you live, how you act, what you do with your time — those are all choices, and I feel absolutely fine about ripping them apart and going to town on ’em for jokes. It’s commentary on who we’re opting to be as a society. Get on the bus in thigh-high rubber fuck-me boots and a LaToya Jackson studded-special leather jacket? Sure, yeah, I’ll use it for humour. Your choice.

But I don’t hurt people with nasty public jabs made about a weight problem, or vision issues, or a goiter, or anything like that.

You think people wouldn’t change those things about them if they could? You think they’re not aware of how outside the norm they might be?

Somehow “fat” is different from all the other discrimination out there, because people “choose” to be fat. That’s another argument for another time, considering the modern food industry, media, how government’s been bought and sold, and more — so I’m not going there.

This whole posting sprang up because I got all pissed off about some remarks a young guy was making about “fatties” on Twitter today, mocking overweight girls trying to glam it up for a profile shot — saying how they’re just getting fatter and fatter, and he wants to puke.

Who the fuck does he think he is? He’s perfect? Does he KNOW what it’s like to be 300 pounds and feel like losing weight is the hardest thing in the world? Um, no.

Know who does? I do. I know what it’s like. I’ve weighed that. Note the past-tense.

I’ve hauled my 275-pound body up a 30-floor highrise’s stairs and back down again, I’ve cycled 70km in a day, lived through the hellish pain that comes from waking up a body that’s long been hibernating. I know.

I know the looks a girl gets when she’s pushing 300 pounds and has the audacity to enter a gym — the skepticism, the obvious wondering about how long she’s gonna last.

Fat people are NOT encouraged to change. When they try, they’re largely scorned and mocked just for even attempting that. Trust me, I know.

It took watching my father almost die from diabetes to wake me up; I didn’t want to die like THAT. And it was the hardest road I’ve ever travelled.

Mocking fat people clearly hasn’t been working. Look at our world.

Insulting the disabled removes them from our world, while denying us the possibility of another Ray Charles or Stephen Hawking because of shame felt from having to endure the mockery that comes from a large portion of the public.

Making a non-specific insult about a body-type or disability or skin-colour doesn’t have to have an intended recipient — without one, you’ve broadly painted everyone. They’ve all been struck by the ignorance of that comment.

Have YOU ever been that person behind the computer screen when an insensitive generalized remark is made, and you react with “is he talking about me?” because it could totally be about you?

Passive-aggressive hate is everywhere on the internet. Its passivity should in no way suggest it is impotent. It rises up and harms many.

My tweet about it said it best: Being mean isn’t cool. It’s never been cool. And if you make it funny, it’s still not cool. Grow up. High school’s over.

We’re an unhappy society. What’s causing it? Is it the ever-present derision and commentary about each other that sets us constantly on edge? People are less secure than ever, and some are striking out at others as a result. Suddenly, it’s no longer a grown-up world, but a return to all I loathed about being in grade 10.

Seriously, what’s going on?

When I hear waif friends panicking about calories, “oh, god, I’m getting fat!” and they’re a size four, I wonder where the fuck we all went wrong.

Maybe some people still haven’t gotten over their elementary-school mocking and want to take it out on everyone else. I don’t know.

What I do know is, in an age where we have greater glimpses into other people’s lives than ever before — their pains, their sorrows, their struggles — I find that we’re getting crueler, more ignorant, and more insensitive when we’re supposedly civilized.

I often wonder if it’s the culture of the celebrity-gossip blog that’s killing kindness in society.

Instead of pettiness being confined to blogs about celebrities, we’re now visiting it on everyone.

The thing about this whole thing that’s most odd, this little fight with this ignorant kid, is I might consider myself somewhat overweight, but I know I’ve changed a LOT about myself — I’ve lost more weight in the last couple years than most people could even fathom. I KNOW what it takes to lose 3 pounds in a week, I know what kind of hardcore activity is required week-in, week-out. I could probably kick your ass.

There’s a reason most people fail in trying to not be “fat.”

It’s not a two-month course-correction — it’s trying to change for the rest of your life what it took you a lifetime to become. There are years of up-and-downs as you learn about yourself before you one day figure out what it takes for YOU to have success. There are medications and environments that can artificially influence weight. It’s not a black-and-white thing.

And there is no addiction in the world more difficult to overcome than food: We are faced with making choices about it three times a day, at least. Every holiday revolves around it. Every social outing is based upon it.

Overcoming weight issues and other addictions is a massive challenge.

It’s NOT society’s job to fix anyone’s life. It’s on EACH PERSON to improve themselves, and using excuses why you won’t change just doesn’t cut it — because some of us find the strength to change even in the face of our largest adversities.

I don’t accept that being unhealthily fat is a lifetime sentence. I believe every unhealthy overweight person* can change their life and improve their health — because I could, even after a decade of injuries.

And I think we can be better people.

We can be a kinder society.

We can accept that words and actions hurt others.

We can try to understand how it might feel on the other side.

I don’t WANT a world where everyone’s NICE all the time. Do I strike you as a sunshine-and-roses kind of girl?

I just want a world where people are treated with a little respect.

I didn’t need the world to give me a hug and tell me everything was gonna be all right when I was super-fat. But I sure as hell needed less skepticism when I finally had the courage to go to the gym and try to change my life. I needed people to understand and support me when I started on my path of change, rather than presupposing I was just going to be another failing fatty who would give up on everything.

I may have ate the food, but EVERYONE in life around me helped perpetuate my mammoth size that by saying all the things that made me insecure and hurting in the first place — which drove ME to my security blanket of food. Yes, I still take the blame, but at least I understand the reasons, too.

Too bad I didn’t have an emotional dependency on cocaine — at least then I might’ve been a hottie and socially-accepted in my svelte size four. After all, nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels, says Little Miss Kate Moss, who might be confusing how skinny feels with the high she’s riding from her cocaine addiction that fuels her size-zero money-maker.

We’re ALL fucked up.

Don’t try to pretend you’re not. YOU know it. I know it. We ALL have things we’d rather not have come to light at a party.

People with obvious physical issues can’t hide theirs, though, so they don’t get off easily. Instead, they’re publicly hurt.

That’s my problem.

That it’s somehow been deemed acceptable behaviour in today’s world?

That’s our problem.

* “Skinny-fat” is the new phrase out there — people who look healthy ‘cos they’re skinny but their numbers are off the chart, all because they luckily have a quick metabolism so they can hide their true health. There ARE overweight people who are healthy, I’m definitely one — since I can climb/descend 30 floors in a high-rise after cycling 15 kilometres and get my 6 cups of veggies a day — but society still isn’t talking about how health is about internal numbers, not outward appearances. Stop judging on looks or abilities.

RANT: The Dumbing-Down of the Modern Femme

I can’t help it, I like Oprah. I even have the 20-hour 20th Anniversary DVD set, but I blame GayBoy for that, since he picked it up as an Xmas gift for me.

So, there I was, watching it, and who should she have on? Pink. The chanteuse who belts out that anti-mainstream track, Stupid Girls. Oprah invited her onto the show based on the brilliance of that track’s video, (you can play it here) which mocks the mainstream perception of what the complete woman is these days.

The gist of it is this, we live in a most ludicrously plastic time. This cult-of-celebrity shit goin’ round just pisses me the hell off. I could go and pepper this fucking rant with a hundred celebrities’ names and get myself some major hittage, but I won’t stoop that low.

God forbid I should piss off the power-bloggers (IE: Pink is the New Blog, Go Fug Yourself, Gawker, and more), but who gives a shit? How can people today care even remotely as much as they do about what Mr. Fucking Britney Spears is doing with his life? Does it matter?

The answer to that is an unequivocal NO.

I can’t understand the obsession. Can anyone explain this to me? Probably not. People are becoming so vacuous and vapid and shallow that it’s a wonder the world has any future, seriously. Cure for cancer? Not fucking likely! A better world? Fuck no! A better cellphone? You betcha!

But I’m getting off-track. What pisses me off most of all is what’s happening to the chicks of today’s generation.

I’m a fierce feminist, baby, in my own way. I don’t resent men a bit. I don’t want to see masculinity erode as the price of my attaining a stronger position in the world. I think I can have my cake and eat it, too. (And I do, it’s chocolate and caramel. Tasty.) I’m smart, I’m sexy in my cute little way, and I live my life with my integrity on my sleeve. I capitulate to no one, yet understand compromise is a way of life. I know how to get what I want, how to say what I mean, and how to behave in a non-threatening, yet intelligent manner.

Too bad the same can’t be said for the younger chicks coming up behind me. What the FUCK is going on? I blame Britney Spears, Madonna, and anyone else who’s put their fucking beauty before their brains in the last couple decades.

Like Pink said, “Sexy and smart aren’t oil and water.” You do NOT need to dumb yourself down to sex yourself up.

As long as men have a choice between a non-threatening chick who’s gonna laugh at their jokes and a smart chick who can bring some edumacatin’ to the table, there’s going to be a dichotomy of choice. The guy who chooses the latter’s always going to be the better choice for you, and don’t forget it.

Now, I don’t run around flexing my big IQ all the day long, but I can flex it when I need it, and I never, ever abandon it in favour of making a less-threatening impression.

I could have, back when I was the Queen of First Dates. I know I intimidated more than a few guys, but they got what they deserved. I said I wanted an intelligent guy who wasn’t threatened by my intelligence, yet THEY showed up on the fucking date. What, did I stutter? You wanted smart, so long as she isn’t smarter than you? Keep going, bub, this ain’t your stop.

We have a generation of Bubblegum Girls on our heels. The ones who think cleavage speaks louder than creativity, that breast size matters more than brains, that plastic surgery is the path to perfection.

Got news for you: There is no perfection.

The Guy’s not one of these losers who can’t handle smarts. But then, he’s pretty darned smart himself. Put us in a hat store and they’re gonna have some trouble sizin’ us up, I bets. He referred to me as “flawed” when listing all the things he liked about me. I furrowed my brow and quizzed him, “Flawed?” I think he was worried I was taking it the wrong way, but I was somewhat amused, since I’ve no illusion on my shortcomings. Still, he explained his thinking and introduced me to something that has previously eluded me: The concept of Wabi Sabi.

No, no, not the green stuff you mix with soy sauce for sushi, that’s wasabi. This is the Japanese principle of imperfection being the definition of beauty. That is, it’s in our uniqueness, our flaws, our subtle imperfections that our true beauty lies. The guy cited Sophia Loren as an example – weird eyes, large nose, strange jaw, dominant cheeks, but you throw it into a bowl and give it a good mix, and you have one of the most stunning beauties of this past century.

But tell that to our vapid Western society. Tell that to they who wield the airbrushes of the world. Tell that to Gawker, to Vogue, to the music video industry. Tell them that the scar on my right nostril gives me character or uniqueness. To them, it’s a reason to go under the knife and be “healed.” Tell them my intellect makes as large an impression as my big green eyes or my smiling lips or my verging-on-ghetto bootay. Today, it just don’t work that way.

While other girls wanted to be Madonna, I wanted to be Janeane Garofalo. I nearly died laughing last week when the Guy and I were talking about the “Allowed To Fuck” monogamy exlusion — that one person we can fuck outside the relationship, if the opportunity arises. His choice? Janeane Garofalo. My response? “Shit, I’ll join you.” (I haven’t decided who I’d choose yet. Hmm. So many choices, so little time. My answers were not finite, Guy!)

Garofalo’s cute, smart, sexy, funny as hell, and she doesn’t take shit from no one. Did I mention the killer smarts? And, like me, she wears glasses instead of contacts. She’s flown in the face of a Hollywood that demanded she conform, yet she’s held her own. Sure, she’s thin now, but she wasn’t always, and she did it for herself, not for the industry.

It’s bad enough that the media’s perpetuating these stereotypes – and even escalating them, but to have today’s young women participating in these negative trends usurping them of their righteous feminine powers is a fucking travesty.

Respect yourself. Be who you really are. Use your brains. Speak in your own voice. Don’t dumb shit down for a guy who doesn’t deserve what you have to offer.

And men, if you’re tired of the vapid beauties, fucking well SAY something about it. You may enjoy looking at the images, but are you enjoying the lack of brains that come with?

Can we, for once, return to the long-ago fantasties of sexy librarians and teachers with yardsticks? Chicks with brains who knew what they were doing when they dropped their drawers? Is it really such a terrible thing, self-knowledge and the ability to express one’s self? Must I and my peers continue feeling like some sort of carbon-dated example of what women once were?

‘Cause, shit, honey, I’ll tell you one thing: I go under the knife for no one. I am what I am, it is what it is, and you’d better get accustomed.