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When does concern equal trolling?

February 27, 2012

If you dare, check out this from Clutch magazine: When Does Thick Equal Fat?

Warning: Don’t read the comments.

I’ll start wth the title. When does thick equal fat? Do we care? Nope. Moving on.

In our community, we have a very deep appreciation for curves and a little “meat on the bones. But we still seem to lack clarity around the issue of Thick vs. Fat. Countless jokes have been told about the matter, and it’s an interesting debate. Do the two weight classes even over lap?

I’m sure the two classes overlap quite a bit. As for that Moment of Truth­™ when it’s time to draw the line and say, “You FAT!” well, that varies considerably according to time, place, and culture. It varies according to race, health status, individual preference, and more. Of course, even if that girl is FAT, why do we care? What’s wrong with fat?

An amusing piece by Darryl James explains the male perspective on the matter.

THE male perspective? Well, then. I guess that settles it. Sorry, guys, no questions asked. He has the answer. Female perspectives are curiously absent, but let’s not worry about that.

This male perspective is revealed as follows:

I remember in the late 1980’s when Black men first started using the word “thick” to define a woman with ample bottom and/or breasts. We knew what we were describing and it was more about T & A than the result of too many Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Moo-Moos and Cow-Cows.

He scrapes the bottom of the barrel right away with the puns. Moo-moos? Cow-cows? Are we five or what?

Oh, and I’ve never been in love with the idea that certain words, phrases, and ideas belong only to certain people. I am not a slave to anyone’s definition of thick nor am I a slave to anyone’s preference of thick over fat.

We also knew that “healthy” was a term reserved for women with a little meat on their bones. They really were considered healthy because they ate regular meals (that they often cooked at home) and had beautiful bountiful bodies to show for it. They were proportionate and anything but obese.

Health is not determined by weight, and only marginally by lifestyle. I’m sure many of these thick women who ate regular home-cooked meals were healthy, and that many more of them were not. I’m sure that some of these women are not just thick, but fat. I’m equally sure that thick and fat people abound, healthy and unhealthy, who regularly avail themselves to food NOT cooked at home.

Alas, not everyone who enjoys good health has a beautiful body (according to whom?) to show for it. I can drive safely and get in an accident that permanently deforms me. Calvinism, how I loathe thee.

Anyway, it’s nice to hear from total strangers exactly what I need to do to be attractive to you. I’ll be putting my life on hold right away to meet this nonexistent obligation.

But I remember that the term “thick” was co-opted in the 1990’s by overweight women who wanted to redefine America’s view of women (particularly the ones on the heavy side), and change the way overweight women viewed themselves.

Again, there’s no trademark on the word thick. You might also like to know that more and more of us are ditching euphemisms like that altogether. It’s okay to call us fat.

Now, I’m all for people looking for ways to feel good about themselves, but if it is not based on reality and is actually inadvertently promoting and celebrating an unhealthy lifestyle, then it’s not a good thing.

The reality of what? The subjective impression of strangers? What lifestyle? The lifestyle you assume I have because of how I look?

I want to thank Supernanny for telling me to eat my vegetables and grow up to be Big and Strong. And to think I went my whole life thinking it wasn’t my obligation to be healthy for you and live a lifestyle that you approve of.

Notice how, like almost everyone else that comments on fat, this person lives under the delusion that fat people don’t know they’re fat and that they need to reminded of this. How can we possibly be in denial about being fat? No one will let us! Can we put this to rest?

Back to the original author:

Scientifically speaking, the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator is an ideal tool to determine the difference between being a brick house, and just a plain old house.

No, it ain’t. Bone density, muscle mass, organ mass, and water content all influence BMI. Your weight, and thus your classification, can change several times in one day. For 29 million Americans, their BMI category shifted upward overnight in 1998, and without a single pound to show for it. How? The magic of redefinition. What, do you believe the expansion of the overweight category and the subsequent obesity “epidemic” just happened to occur together?

Your BMI is determined by a special mechanism that uses your height and weight to determine your category. The continuum spans from the grossly under-weight, to the massively overweight.

Ah, I was wondering when someone would make use of the term gross. I don’t, whatsoever, praise you for insulting the underweight, but I thank you for not giving in to the cliché of using it in conjunction with fat.

This use of the term gross tells me everything I need to know about the real motivation behind most articles of this kind. A thinly veiled attempt to hide disgust with someone’s appearance under the guise of health. Gee, haven’t seen that before.

With the increase of obesity in the US, perhaps James may have a point.

You mean epidemic by definition?

Talk of enlarging seat sizes on buses and trains can lead one to think that there is a push to normalize massive corpulence.

Massive corpulence will never be normalized because fat is largely genetic and few people are truly massively corpulent. More importantly, why should a massively corpulent person not feel normal? Why do I need to be normal to you to participate in society?

At the same time, one could see it as an “evolved” societal shift that recognizes that we are not all meant to be exact cookie cut outs of one another.

Ding ding ding ding DING! We have a winner.

So putting the theory to the test, would it be safe to say that Serena Williams = thick and Monique = fat?

Yes! And neither one of them has anything to apologize for.

What category does Queen Latifah fall under? And how about Jennifer Hudson? The BMI may be a helpful tool for some, but we tend to use our own cultural values as a determining factor for such matters.

You mean the way our culture used a bogus war on disease to justify our fascination with thinness? Sounds right to me.

I have to say, the author is nodding in our direction, and I appreciate her level of maturity in addressing this. No Moo-moos or Cow-cows here. But she, like most people in our culture, is just not there yet. Sure, it’s good for people to accept themselves, but we can’t possibly justify accepting fat!

What else is new?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. LittleBigGirl permalink
    February 27, 2012 11:58 am

    Oh sure – “Love yourself for who you are – as long as who you are conforms to who we think you should be… I mean come on you have to JUSTIFY your self esteem you know. Oh absolutely you should love yourself…except you know when you shouldn’t because seriously how can you love yourself when you look like that?”

    Someone please buy that poor twit at “Clutch” a dictionary so she can look up the meaning of “acceptance.”

    *SIGH* Now I have a headache from headdesking and have to go lie down… >:-P

  2. February 27, 2012 1:26 pm

    You did a brilliant job of picking apart that article point by point. Bravo.

  3. March 1, 2012 8:15 am

    “Scientifically speaking, the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator is an ideal tool to determine the difference between being a brick house, and just a plain old house.”
    Boy, this crouton is just a laff a minute, ain’t he? Har de har and a nyuk nyuk nyuk!

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