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Visualizing the 1%: Fat hate and Occupy Wall Street

November 2, 2011

For the last six weeks or so, the Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) marches, rallies, protests and processes have been fascinating me. I’ve been following the news and Twitter feeds very closely as I can’t actually be downtown camping out every night, and have been lending my voice and ideas as much as I can through our Facebook page. (Yes, there’s an Occupy Nanaimo. It’s great.) It’s been wonderful to watch people wake up and take action against the economic hegemony; that is, the way things have been. It’s no surprise to us, the 99%, how unequal things are, how unfair, how difficult and sometimes, how hopeless. I think the surprising thing was how long it took for the 99% to wake up and get out on the streets and raise some hell.

There’s been some good art around OWS too; really striking images, both hand-made and photoshopped, witty and snarky signage, poignant and pointed speeches. I’m a little concerned, though, that an old friend is rearing its ugly head the more political traction OWS gets: fat hatred. I know that the kyriarchy can’t be, and wont be, changed overnight, but I was hoping that the progressives who’re a part of the movement would try to steer clear of it. Sadly, I keep seeing images of the 1% as a fat, white man in a top hat and monocle, reminiscent of the Monopoly guy.

The truth of the matter is that the rich corporations would be better represented as a tanned (from a booth or a bottle), blonde-haired, blue-eyed, able-bodied, and very fit man talking on a cell phone with a laptop bag slung over one shoulder as he steps into a Ferrari. The idea of the rich being represented by fat folks should be replaced by the reality of the rich being our healthiest citizens, and why not? They can afford to eat the best food, live in the best neighborhoods, visit the best gym, and see the best doctors. And those are just some of the reasons the 99% are on the streets right now.

Google image search for “rich man” and you’ll see what I mean about the fat Monopoly guy. For fun, I also searched “rich woman” and instead of a bunch of cartoon ladies, I recieved lots of photos of conventionally beautiful, mostly white, thin women. Hmm, me thinks I smell the kyriarchy again, and it smells like bullshit. So, if you’re watching the Occupy movement, or have people on your Twitter or Facebook who are, next time you see Mr. Monopoly out there, I hope you speak up about how wrong the image is, and point them in the direction of skinny nerds like Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    November 2, 2011 11:22 pm

    Oh yeah, heaven forbid the truly rich should really be fat like the stereotypical “Monopoly Man” – that wouldn’t fit their image at all. Although, if you look closely at some of the CEOs responsible for the banking debacle, you can bet that a lot of them have BMIs in the “overweight/obese” range, as do quite a few of the Congresscritters who bailed them out with our tax dollars, as do quite a few of the CEOs of big pharma who are pushing the “OMGOBESITYEPIPANIC” and the doctors who are going along with it. But it’s a case of that good old double standard that applies across all lines/isms – do as I say, not as I do. I’m looking forward to the day when the mighty have fallen and they are in our shoes – they aren’t going to know what to do or how to cope.

  2. November 3, 2011 9:58 am

    Whereas I agree with your point, we in the fatosphere need to be careful of statements like “The idea of the rich being represented by fat folks should be replaced by the reality of the rich being our healthiest citizens”

    This implies that slender == healthy, as we all know it does not.

    • November 3, 2011 11:02 am

      I see where the implication is, but Jen is right. Studies that compare poor and wealthy patients with diabetes routinely show that the wealthiest have the best access to healthcare and treatment, so wealth = health in many cases. In fact, that same has been shown in poor and wealthy fat people. Money provides access to better health choices across the board, regardless of size.


      • November 3, 2011 12:26 pm

        Thanks, Shannon. That’s what I meant. Wealth provides the oppertunity for better healthcare, and being thin is associated w having leisure time and good food. Who’s got time off to go to the gym? It isn’t the single Latina mom living in the bad neighbourhood who works two jobs to support her kids, that’s for sure.

  3. Patsy Nevins permalink
    November 3, 2011 10:45 am

    I would just like to point out that thin & fit & tanned do not always mean the same thing as ‘healthiest’. Health is not the sole right of thin people &, as many, such as the late Steve Jobs, being thin & having all the money in the world doesn’t guarantee health. The way you wrote it, it sounded as if you were agreeing that the thin, fit, tanned wealthy are ‘healthier’ than those of us who are not those things. “Fat cats”, of whatever size or shape, do indeed have the lion’s share of the money, the goods, the power, & access in this world, &, yes, they can afford the best in medical care, but that does not necessarily make them healthy or immortal. And not having a lot of money or access to the best & being older & fat does not necessarily make me LESS healthy.

  4. November 3, 2011 10:54 am

    I’ve thought of this for a while now. The “fat cat” image has been used since editorial cartoons were invented, so I’m not surprised that it’s still used. But it needs to be updated to reflect modern reality. I’m curious how many of the big bankers are thin… off to do some research.


  5. November 3, 2011 4:02 pm

    Off topic, but I spend a weekend in Nanaimo, what a cute town! Despite the first impression, which was a drug-crazy man yelling at his girlfriend, but we have that here, too. SF/CAli crazy drug people tend to be more sequested, whereas in the few spots I saw in Canada, they mix with the regular folks. More laissez-faire attitude re drugs, I suppose. It was the weekend of some little boat races, so a lot was going on. I liked how there were so many opportunities for swimming, though at that point, I had no bathing suit that fit and felt I was too big to swim anyway. Sigh.

  6. November 3, 2011 6:45 pm

    Nanaimo is a beautiful little place. You were probably here for the bathtub races. We missed them.

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