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Monday, October 19, 2015 

Of course overweight characters can make good focus, but obesity shouldn't be glorified

Here's somebody on CBR making a case for writing stories involving special focus for characters who're fat. It's something I'd be welcome to as well (and I'd once watched all 5 seasons of Cannon with William Conrad, plus the crossover with Barnaby Jones, and the 1980 reunion TV film), because, under the right circumstances, it could make a good alternative to all the LGBT propaganda constantly shoved down our throats these days. However, if we're going to give special focus to overweights, we should also be willing to acknowledge that obesity otherwise isn't healthy and does have its health hazards. And the writer, unfortunately, doesn't seem to fully grasp this:
The characterizations of fat bodies in pop culture have long been relegated to a punch line, an undateable friend, an object lesson or a villain lost to excess. Fat has been an obstacle to overcome, where a fat person begins a story as something less than, something incomplete, something that must change in order to receive the same experiences other bodies are given freely. Characters are allowed to be fat as long as they are trying to become thin, or as long as they provide some sort of entertainment to others. They are rarely established as objects of desire, as heroes, as people we can admire. Fat bodies generally aren't allowed to have the same power as thin ones, lacking the cultural capital to stand on their own as the star of a story worth telling.
What's wrong with trying to lose weight? On the surface, obesity could be one of the "hooks" about a character, but that doesn't mean they have to stay that way forever. Yet that's pretty much what they think homosexual cast members should be like: whether or not they were created as such, some SJWs must think they should remain so forever.

What the writer fails to clearly understand here is that obesity isn't healthy. Plenty of overweight folks, men and women alike, run the risk of cholesterol and heart disease by eating too many fatty dairy products and meats. My own father nearly died of a heart attack from too much cholesterol in 1994, had to be hospitalized, and since then eats mainly fish and vegetables, and whatever meat he eats is limited to products like chicken, which carry very little fat.

And if you're going to make obesity the focus of a cast member, it should have some acknowledgement of how it can be dangerous for one's blood pressure. Otherwise, you're just pushing an absurd non-reality. Which, unfortunately, is exactly what SJWs want, no matter how much they insist otherwise.
Comics, in particular, have a major deficit in all kinds of body diversity, but notably in showcasing fat characters as people of value. And that's a miss. Stories are a place where we can learn compassion, where we can break down the phobias, where we can get a different view of humanity. They are a way we communicate the common struggles groups of people experience. By failing to include a range of body types, creators are effectively saying they don't see them; that they are unappealing and deserve to be left out. They can only exist if they play by certain rules, or take up an inconsequential amount of space -- they can't be superheroes because no hero could ever be fat. They can't be femme fatales because they aren't sexy. But those limited perceptions, dictating what a body can't be because of its appearance? It's time for those to change. Comics can idealize, but why are ideals so narrow? We say that comics are for everyone and that means everyone should be able to see themselves in a book -- while not every book needs to meet the needs of every person, we shouldn't be left wandering aisles at our LCS asking, "But where am I?"
But Foggy Nelson, who was often characterized as chubby a year or so after Daredevil began, wasn't always a punchline. And if you need more characters who're fat, Bouncing Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes was one guy who was certainly overweight.

And how do we know fat people really think it's a big deal there be stars who're fat too? Here's another something where inclusiveness goes too far. If they do want them, you can be sure there's some out there who wouldn't be happy if the grim reality of health issues were just plain ignored.
The experiences of a fat body are complicated -- I am fat, and have been for most of my life. I've been expected to comply with traditional beauty standards, given substandard treatment due to my appearance, had assumptions made about my health and abilities because of my body. I have been told I'm not allowed to fully accept myself because of my weight. I've been told I should not expect the same life experiences as thin people, including healthy love, sex and the ability to find stylish clothing. It's completely acceptable to discriminate against fat bodies, to shame them, to attempt to control them in their perceived absence of self-control, or to use them as a scapegoat for failure. My body, a fat woman's body, is everyone's business, and I am constantly expected to receive other people's advice on it. The most transgressive thing I can possibly do as a fat woman is to love myself, thoroughly and without apologies. That sort of struggle, and others like it, aren't so dissimilar from origin stories of superheroes coming to terms with their power.
Really? You've been told that? Why do I get the feeling she doesn't have much self-esteem? Does she really want to be that way? And with my father's experience, that's why I'd strongly advise against suggesting being fat doesn't have health hazards. Does she also not believe in exercise? Everyone, fat and thin alike, needs exercise, and can't just consume every fattening food product without potential risk of cholesterol. Even if you can weight-lift while obese, that doesn't mean you don't have health problems.

As for discrimination or body-shaming, no, of course it's not a laughing matter. But then, she'd better consider that some SJWs now are practicing body-shaming against thin people too. Saying it's wrong to have big breasts, and that's just for starters.

And no sane person is trying to say fatness itself is shameful, but are trying to argue that it's not healthy. It certainly didn't help my father years before, and he's not happy about having too much weight either. So while fat characters are fine in themselves for fiction, we shouldn't act like obesity is all fine and dandy. In fact, we shouldn't act like it's something we truly want to be. Again, my father doesn't want to be after what he went through.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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