What if Santa brings out the fat-haters?

I was about to re-post a popular xmas piece of mine from last  year, What if we loved fat girls as much as we love the “bowl full of jelly” Santa? when I came across this tweet from Bitch Media:

“Our culture’s knack for fat-shaming is now being directed at Santa? Oh no! No one is safe! http://bit.ly/5CsWDo

According to the NYDaily news link “A party-pooping public health expert in a top medical journal says Santa Claus needs to cut back on cookies” and “swap his sleigh for a treadmill…”

This message also ran through Fred Klaus, which I watched the other night. The very authentic looking Santa (played by Paul Giamatti) was continually berated about his weight by Mrs. Klaus (played by Elizabeth Banks). This movie had some funny bits, but I could have done without the fat-shaming.

Seems shaming Santa for his body is popular on Twitter, too. Here’s a quick sampling with added commentary by yours truly.

“BlondHousewife Santa Claus is a terrible role model. He’s fat, he drinks and he speeds. Breaks into people’s homes and abuses animals.” Being fat makes one a terrible role model? How about being a body-policing hater? Is that role model behavior?

“sophiemitch Dear Santa, Don’t bother coming to my house this year I’ve been Naughty! and it was fucking worth it… you fat, judgmental son of a bitch!!” Yup, if you want to insult someone, be sure to throw the f-word in there.

“jbouzou Fat Santa Claus / Think he surely ate / his reindeers. #senryu :o)” Uh-huh, cuz we all know fat people will eat ANYTHING.

“TrendTweetTopic Is Santa naughty if he’s fat? http://twa.lk/VvfLt about 3 hours ago from API” Cuz nothing says your bad like fat.

“Jazbyl24 I wonder if santa got my letter that fat mother fucker didn’t answer me back” Why is fat so often included as a descriptor when thin/skinny is not? Kinda like how we label non-white people but not white ones… As in “a black man was arrested” vs “a man was arrested” — when the person reported on is white, rarely is the whiteness mentioned…

Hope you can ignore all this fat-hatred Santa. Seems like your body size should be the last thing people focus on. But, when you’re fat, doesn’t seem to matter what you do or what kind of person you are, the thing people will focus on and shame you for is fat. Just imagine if you were (an out) female — then you’d likely see a load more fat-hatin and fat-shamin!

Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm  Comments (16)  
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  1. Well, at least Santa’s fat hasn’t compromised his health, the way we hear several times every day that fat does to folks. What is he, like several centuries old now? Yeah…what I thought. Not to mention that he probably NEEDS the calories from all those cookies to support his energy needs on Christmas Eve. I would think that delivering all those presents counts as exercise…

    • Rachel,
      Good point about the fat not compromising Santa’s health. Although the movie I mentioned (Fred Klaus) insinuates it does…
      I do think if Santa was a female icon there would likely be more “concern” about the fat… Do we have ANY fat females we love as unconditionally as Santa?

      • Fred Claus…sounds familiar, although I can’t quite remember watching it. Might’ve caught it on Hallmark last year. I did notice while watching Rudolph on DVD this year that Santa is rail thin and Mama (Mrs. Claus) is prodding him to, “Eat, Santa! Eat! You’ll disappoint the kids! They expect a FAT Santa!” Also, The Santa Clause…watched that with my brother cuz it’s about his favorite movie period, Christmas or no, and I was really appreciating the way that they portrayed Scott’s relationship to his fattening body and the way everyone around him was like, “OMG the fat!!!” I don’t think I picked up on that subtlety the last time I watched that…must’ve been a few years back.

      • Good point about Rudolph! And I do think that the Santa Claus movie portrayed Santa’s fattening body in a way that critiqued cultural fat-hatred. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Rachel, I think you are missing the point.

  3. There are plenty of reasons for hating Santa that have nothing at all to do with fat. Such as… the implicit (and sometimes pretty explicit) classism (*good* kids get the biggest, best presents…) or, let’s face it, the whole “parents lying to kids” thing (note to all parents: lying to your kids is *never* justifiable, regardless of how “traditional” it is).

    In this case, i think that fat probably is being used as a stand-in for class issues, but not in the way that is currently popular in the English-speaking world (fat people seen as lazy, uneducated “lower-class” people), but in a much older way that dates back to times when only the very richest could *afford* enough food to get fat, especially with phrases like “fat, judgmental son of a bitch”. “Fat” is being used as code for “unfairly privileged” by people who don’t quite dare to criticise privilege itself.

    Or maybe i’m over-intellectualising this ;)

    • Shiva,
      I don’t think you are over-intellectualizing!
      Good point about the classism of the Santa narrative. The consumerism-message is not the greatest either.
      I have to admit that I do like the idea of magic, of the unexplainable, of faith in good presences such as Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc. I believe in (some) of the spirit behind these icons. I have never seen it as “lying” but as promoting a belief in magic and goodness. But maybe I am kidding myself here as I am a sucker for make believe!
      Very good point about Santa as a “fat cat” and idea fat is being used as code for “unfairly privileged.” But isn’t Santa using his privilege for good? Isn’t this what the social justice movement calls for? And I do think many people ARE criticizing him AS fat — rather than reacting against class/privilege, etc.

  4. Natalie: no, I don’t think I did…

  5. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I’ve got the “freshman 15,” and my mother was belittling me for being “so” fat. There are 2 problems on 2 different levels.I have gained muscle and fat, and I wear loose clothes that don’t advertise my fat, and so based on the “ideal” look I don’t see a problem. More importantly, though, I am healthy, and fat with health is not bad. And I’m not ugly. I’m pretty decent looking if I do say so myself. This is frustrating.

    • Victor,
      Thanks for sharing.
      Sad to hear your mom thinks belittling you about your weight is appropriate. All too often, mothers pass on body-hating messages to their kids. Thanks for pointing out that “healthy” and “fat” are not mutually exclusive! Yeah for the frosh 15 — tell mom I think she should be proud of who you are, not how your body looks!

  6. I would say without question that fatness is not a characteristic of a good role model. Without question. It’s a genuine health risk and countries throughout the world are trying to tackle an obesity epidemic not because it’s unsightly but because its dangerous. I’m totally against people assuming negative things about fat people, but I would never say that being fat is ‘okay’ in itself.

    • Can you please site proof that it’s a genuine health risk? (and proof not from bio-pharm or medical industrial complex…) As many studies have shown, being “overweight” is LESS of a health risk than being “underweight.” Further, what studies also show is that health is linked more to exercise and diet than to how much fat one’s body has… Yes, those that profit off of fat-hatred (bio-pharm, diet industry, beauty industry, etc) want the world to believe that fat is BAD and dangerous — which you seem to believe given your claim that being fat is never “ok.”

      • I know first-hand the dangers of being underweight and I would never dream of saying it was healthy. But anyway, I’m not a doctor and won’t pretend to know anything for sure, but according to Google (my only resource at the moment haha!):

        http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/obe/obe_risks.html

        http://www.obesity.org/information/what_is_obesity.asp

        http://www.toneteen.com/health/healthrisks.htm

        http://news.health.com/2008/08/11/fat-and-healthy/

        For me personally it’s not because of the diet industry or beauty industry, it’s because I have been taught from a very young age that being fat is unhealthy and I’m more than prepared to believe it.
        I’m aware that you can be overweight and healthy, but I don’t think that overweight = fat, either. There’s a difference between ‘overweight’ and ‘very overweight’. My mother is overweight according to her doctor but nobody would look at her and think she was fat.
        Can you please site proof that you can be very overweight – obese and still be fit and healthy? I’m not being snarky, if you can give me substantial proof that you can then I’m more than happy to accept it.

      • Kate,
        I am having internet troubles today so have not looked at your links yet… My computer keeps freezing up… Perhaps it wants to rest on this last day of the year? But I do have one link for you from a fat-positive blog which links to a lot of other writers/scholars who write about the false links between fatness and health risk. Here it is: http://kateharding.net/faq/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/
        I am wondering if you are prepared to believe everything you were taught from a young age? I was taught that whites were superior, that Catholocism was the ONLY religion, that women should marry, have kids, and cook. I have since learned better…
        As for the term overweight, I am not too fond of it… I think it’s too broad and also indicates that there is an ideal weight for every body, which I don’t think there is. I am for reclaiming the term fat — not to designate bodies that are only “very overweight” as you put it, but as part of everyone’s body, as part of being human. Some have more, some have less, but we need not hate all fat.
        Your comment about your mom is what bugs me so much about the medical establishment’s take on fat — they look at their little charts and tell all sorts of people they are “overweight.” Those charts are out of date and unrealistic… I have to wonder how many of them push this idea as the medical industry profits from making us think we need more pills, regimens, etc.
        Thanks for taking part in the conversation!

      • All excellent rebuttals to “But it’s what I’ve always been told!”

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