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Fat Suit —

December 28, 2012

Well, we survived another War on Christmas, but the War on Santa rages on. As a strategic campaign within the wider War on Fat, people who demand a skinny Santa claim he’s an unhealthy “role model.” Lindy West nailed it:

I’m sorry. Santa is not a “role model.” I mean, is the Easter Bunny a role model? Is Zeus a role model? Is Rumpelstiltskin a role model? Oh hey, mom, could you amputate my arms and legs and paint me orange and feed me a candle, please? I want to be more like this jack-o-lantern, MY ROLE MODEL.

First of all, I have to say that I love Santa Claus, but blaming Santa for the increase in childhood obesity rates between 1980 and 1999 is like blaming the Easter Bunny for the increase in sexually transmitted diseases among teens. Yes, we all know that rabbits are horny little bastards (click here for the cutest example bunny fucking ever — just look at that little cottontail wag!), but there’s a tenuous-at-best link between the two facts (bunnies like to fuck and teenagers are contracting more STDs).

The fact is, as long as they have existed, bunnies have been sex fiends and Santa has been fat. These aren’t sudden developments that coincide with the trends in question. For over 100 years, artists have portrayed Santa as morbidly obese.

The exception is the very first Santa Claus, which was drawn by Thomas Nast and published in Harper’s Weekly on January 3, 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.

First Santa

Nast’s first Santa looks more like an evil wizard than a jolly, old fat man.

Creepy Santa 2

Because what a soldier wants most for Christmas is a tormented soul-stealing doll.

This first Santa also gave some of the creepiest gifts ever, including both the suicidal puppet above, as well as the Trilogy of Terror doll below.

Nast Trilogy of Terror

Santa unleashes an unholy monster on the world.

Most interestingly of all, Nast’s first Santa also inspires the horrific tradition of giving socks as presents.

Sock Gift

Hey, there’s a foot still in this.

But cut Nast some slack — the man gave new life to a character that had been popularized by the 40-year-old (at the time) story, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka “The Night Before Christmas”).

Throughout his career, Nast would refine the jolly old elf.

Creepy Santa

Slightly less creepy, slightly more obese.

In fact, Nast’s Santa became the standard by which all future Santas would be measured: red-suited, white-bearded and fat as Chris Christie in Speedos. As a service for those who believe fat Santa is a late 20th century invention, I submit the following review of Nast’s Santas for your review (click if it isn’t animated).


Now, does anyone remember the Great Childhood Obesity Epidemic of 1885?


Then shut the fuck up.

Especially Roy Pickler, the Biggest Loser asshole who inspired Lindy West’s wrath by saying, “The world is going to have to change their acceptance of what Santa looks like. Santa is a role model, and kids don’t want to have a role model that’s fat.” [emphasis mine]

I love how Pickler makes it sound like the anti-fat Santa outrage is coming from children. For over a century, Santa has looked like this…

Amazon Link

… and kids have been perfectly content with fat Santa. Suddenly kids aren’t ready for this bowl full of jelly? Bullshit.

If kids are changing their minds about Santa, it’s because overwrought grownups with a Messiah complex have swooped in to Save the Children™ from a mythical character. And what better way to make your case to children than through children’s books.

This year, I stumbled across two books that have taken it upon themselves to deconstruct Fat Santa in order to promote the Skinny Santa worldview.

The first is called “How Santa Really Works.”

How Santa Really Works I apologize, but we took this one back to the library before I got a screencap. The gist is pretty simple. Most of the book is interesting and appeals to kids with detailed diagrams and schematics that explain away all the doubts that your kids may have about Santa’s present delivery system.

Where it gets weird is when the author, Alan Snow, explains that Santa isn’t really fat at all. In fact, that fluffy red suit is actually a machine that helps Santa do his job. When Santa steps out of the suit, he’s as wiry and skinny as the arms and legs you see on the cover above suggest.

I found it weird, but it didn’t seem like they were emphasizing Santa’s fatness as bad and thinness as good. It was more like “Here’s another tool in Santa’s arsenal.” Were this the only book to employ the “Santa is secretly thin” motif, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

But then we read “SantaKid” by James Patterson (yes, that James Patterson) to our girls and I was bothered the way Patterson exploits Santa’s size to preach the Gospel of Living Thin.

Santa Kid

I haven’t felt this irritated by a children’s book since I reviewed “The Gulps,” a horrific collaboration between Marc Brown (“Arthur”) and Rosemary Wells (“Max and Ruby”).

“SantaKid” is Chrissie, the daughter of Santa and Mrs. Claus, and right off the bat, she explains that things aren’t always what they seem at the North Pole.

Slim Santa

That’s right, Santa isn’t really fat at all because if Santa were fat, he’d be dead, children. Dead as a doornail. So, really, Santa is thin and beardless, except on Christmas Eve, when Mrs. Claus fills his suit with stuffing so he looks fat for some unspecified reason.

The beard thing I understand. Growing a beard just for the winter months makes sense, but why maintain the illusion that Santa is really fat? Patterson doesn’t explain it. He just wants you to accept that Santa is secretly thin because he doesn’t want to die, right kids?

Then one day, a jumbo jet from “EXMAS EXPRESS” lands at the North Pole. Without warning, the owner, Warrie Ransom, busts in Santa’s door and announces that he’s buying Christmas. Warrie is loud, bossy, mean, and (surprise, surprise) very fat.

Hostile Takeover

Although Santa tells Ransom that Christmas is not for sale, the angry fat man takes over the North Pole anyway in what I assume was hostile takeover (the details of how Ransom acquires Christmas against Santa’s wishes aren’t divulged).

Immediately, Exmas Express takes over toy production, replacing Santa’s nice friendly toys with obnoxious toys like Princess PeePee and PooPoo. On top of that, Ransom demands that the elves increase Christmas participation among children from 21% to 50%.

On the page where Ransom screams at the elves, Patterson says, “Warrie Ransom was a large, angry person whose face was almost as red as Santa’s suit.” No word on how Ransom’s stress levels are bad for the heart.

Big Fat Boss
Both of my daughters picked up on something at the same time when they saw this picture. “He’s fat,” they said. It’s weird: we’ve read dozens of Christmas books with dozens of incarnations of Santa, all fat; we’ve read other books that feature main and minor characters who are fat; we’ve read books that feature good guys and bad guys who are fat; and yet, this is the only book where my daughters have stopped to point out that a character was fat.


Perhaps because Patterson draws attention to the weight of his characters, like when Chrissie runs to get Santa’s help but finds him in a depressed state:

Santa had stopped going to the Toy Workshop
Then he stopped going out of the house.
Finally he stopped getting out of bed.
He began to put on a lot of weight.
And grew a long, white beard.
Santa started looking like Santa.
And not in a good way.

Depressed Santa

Ah, yes… nothing says Christmas like teaching kids that fat people are depressed, lazy losers. Not only that, but on the next page, when we’re told that Exmas Express is destroying Christmas with commercialization, we’re treated to more stereotypes:

And Santa didn’t seem to care. He just stayed in bed.
And ate his weight in Sugar Snackolas.


As could be expected, Exmas Express is unable to do Santa’s job. The trucks get stuck in the snow and it looks like Christmas is canceled. Then, Chrissie begs Santa to step up and save Christmas, but Santa tells Chrissie, “I’m too heavy for the sleigh.”

This is where I’m just done with this book. Santa’s too fat for the sleigh, yet a few pages later, Chrissie explains that the “magic of Christmas” allows her to carry ALL THE TOYS IN THE WORLD and DELIVER THEM ALL IN ONE NIGHT, yet Santa’s too fat to fly.

For this incredible lapse in logic, as well as the mountains of bullshit within this concern troll’s letter to Santa, I would like to give James Patterson a present on behalf of Santa Claus, rational human beings and all the children of the world:

Fuck You James Patterson

If you’re going to address childhood obesity, couldn’t you start with a cultural phenomenon that actually coincides with those trends? Because Santa has been a great big ol’ fatass since his creation and he does not need to be reinvented as a skinny savior by some asshole who is more businessman than author.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    December 28, 2012 1:22 pm

    I used to do a lot of counted cross stitch, especially the small pieces that could be turned into Christmas tree ornaments. I have a pattern book with probably 20 different Santas in it. some are fat, some are not – BUT the ones that aren’t fat aren’t called Santa Claus, they’re St Nickolaus and they’re all from the very early origins of his legend. And even some of those could be in the “overweight” or smaller “obese” category – after all, it’s pretty difficult to tell what size a person is when they’re wearing a floor-length, heavy robe. I’ll have to see if I can find that book and scan some of the pictures of the St Nicks/Santas.

  2. Duckie Graham permalink
    December 28, 2012 1:38 pm

    that collage totally made me lol!

  3. December 28, 2012 7:50 pm

    If that guy doesn’t like the fat Santa just go with Father Christmas instead. He’s usually a thinner, wisened character with a Billy F Gibbons beard. Billy Gibbons is my Santa anyhow, he’s got some wicked sleighs and a cooler hat.

  4. Michelle B permalink
    December 28, 2012 11:46 pm

    I don’t know about an ‘obesity epidemic’, but I do think we are definitely in the middle of an asshole epidemic. What kind of jackass hijacks a beloved Christmas icon to teach children his own special brand of bigotry?

    • Fab@54 permalink
      December 29, 2012 1:25 pm

      Exactly, Michelle B… exactly.

  5. violetyoshi permalink
    December 29, 2012 8:21 pm

    Maybe someone should write a children’s book about how starvation eating disorders had been normalized, and all the kids were starving themselves to death. Has Clive Barker written any children’s book, this might be an opportunity for him to start.

    Oh wait, silly me! I had forgot that in the US eating disorders like Anorexia are seen as perfectly healthy, but we must terrify our children of food so they don’t become fat. I have seen a few documentaries from England about society’s pressure to be ultra thin. In the US however we have people in complete denial that self-starvation isn’t healthy and can lead to death. Since you know in all cases thinness is an example of perfect health, nobody thin ever gets ill, and only fat people get all the diseases.

    Perhaps parents should be more frightened our society has simplified the ideas of health to such a degree it seems like medical literature about weight is like a children’s book. Say it with me everybody, health is not black or white, thin does not always equal healthiness and fatness does not always equal illness.

    I wonder if James Patterson would like to visit the parents of a ten year old who refuses to eat, because they’re afraid of becoming fat. I wonder if he would feel like such a tough guy, watching a child starve themselves to death, because they took the schoolyard bully lessons he put in his children’s book to heart.

    Clive Barker may have made the Hellraiser stories, which are extremely horrifying, but he hasn’t made a contribution to the real life horror of children convinced by our society that dying from Anorexia, appears more healthy than being fat and healthy. I really want these adults who use their position to demean fat people, to have to face the harm they have chosen to contribute to. I remember a time where teaching children their bodies were wrong was considered a form of abuse.

    The United States where people take pride in making children fear fat to the point of choosing death in pursuit of thinness, instead of life being fat.

    • December 30, 2012 7:27 pm

      Pardon me for being off topic, but Clive Barker has indeed written a young adult series, called the Books of the Abarat. It’s brilliant. 🙂

  6. lifeonfats permalink
    December 30, 2012 9:56 am

    Santa Claus is fat, he will always be fat and people just need to deal with it.

  7. The Real Cie permalink
    December 31, 2012 1:01 am

    Reading about the James Patterson book made me facepalm so hard that my brain flew out the back of my head.

  8. vesta44 permalink
    December 31, 2012 12:59 pm

    This is off-topic, but I really wish we had a “like” button for comments (I had to laugh at yours, Cie, the picture in my head was hilarious).

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