I write on behalf of fat men everywhere. We’ve had enough, and we aren’t going to take it anymore.
If you are thin, you can stop reading now. This is not for you or you of the pathetically normal.
The latest on the fat front comes from the people at Time magazine, who published a cover with a silhouette of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in all his amplitude. This was fodder for the raspy-voiced, foam-flecked, breast-beating, breathless, polarized commentators on television who lost it with mock horror, cooked up indignation and synthetic fervor. Horror, shock disgust, ran their narrative.
What caused their bile to rise?
It was the caption, “The Elephant in the Room.” This double entendre was too much for the pundits.
The professionally outraged — those people who think political commentary is about umbrage taken and apologies sought — should get a life.
Christie’s avoirdupois is part of his success. Without it the New Jersey governor, and possible GOP presidential hopeful, would’ve been just another rough-talking Jersey pol, telling us that he’s going to fix everything with straight talk and “sitting down” with his opponents.
The thing about Christie is if he tells you he’s going to kick your butt, he looks equipped to do it.
Christie has made a virtue of heft and offered hope to those of us who bulge a seat at his metaphorical table. His message is you don’t have to be trim and smooth to get into public life.
He has had the courage to take his poundage to the platform, where he joined William Howard Taft as a conservative behemoth — a real political heavyweight who weighed in at 350 pounds. No wonder Teddy Roosevelt, who was on the corpulent side, loved him before they fell out over who should be president, something worth falling out about, you might say.
Slimming down may please a candidate’s doctor, but what of his public? Look at Mike Huckabee, another governor who tarried too long, too often at the buffet, but faded politically as he dwindled in girth.
Let’s face it, being overweight isn’t easy. It builds character. You’re at a disadvantage in the singles bar, you break furniture, you have to slink into the fat man’s shop, and people are quite rude to you. At a party a young woman said to me, “You’re much fatter in person than you are on television.” After that I ate a tray of consoling appetizers.
Your friends damn you with faint praise. “You carry your weight well,” I’ve been told by my lying friends.
At meals, people watch you so they can avoid doing what you do. If you slather butter on rolls, they eat them dry. If you tuck into dessert, they nibble a quarter of it.
The fat have to shop at special shops, where there are sizes that fit. It’s altogether humiliating.
The terrible truth we live with is not that in every fat man is a thin one trying to get out; we know that inside every fat person is a fatter one trying to get out.
So Christie has had a stomach band applied. Already, there’s less of him. Already he’s abandoned us, the tubby brigade. He wants to be just like other politicians — like Cassius, looking “lean and hungry.”
There will be no role model left for the — hateful word — obese. We must look back into history for fat heroes. They’re there, but the times have changed and fat is a political and social issue. Jackie Gleason, Orson Welles, Diego Garcia, G.K. Chesterton and even Winston Churchill packed on the pounds in their day and were accepted.
Now we, the fat men, must go back to the lettuce, the protein shakes and the baggy gym pants. Our hopes of having a fat friend, a larger-than-life friend in high places, are fading.
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS.MORE IN Perspective
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