Publish 12 May 2022
Shootng the Dozens
A crowd of six high school children gathers around a lunch table as tall, thin Mike squares off with short round Joey. The prior afternoon, Joey won the battle of you’re-so-thin insults. Now it’s Mike’s turn. And he begins firing insults in rapid-fire succession.
“Joey comes from a big family…. He has no siblings. His mamma is so large, she fills the bed of the pickup truck when she drives to the grocery store to eat an aisle of food for lunch.
“She’s the only person who calls a tow truck with the jaws of life to get into a car.”
“Joey is not as strong as he looks. His six-pack abs are actually the impression from the steering wheel pressing against his belly.
“I was shocked to hear that he got into a car accident. Fortunately, there were no injuries. The airbag was fully protected when Joey deployed.”
“Joey thought he found some friends after hiking through the mud at summer camp. The other kids actually gathered around because they never saw a s’more the size of a human.”
“When Joey went to get a tux for the prom, the only thing the tailor had for him was a jumbo-size marshmallow bag. So in the candlelight, he and his graham-cracker prom date went up in flames.
“We need to be quick when the lunch bell rings. I was the second person in line behind Joey in the cafeteria. When I got to the counter, the kitchen had no more food.”
“Joey is the last one to get dressed for gym in the locker room. It’s because he doesn’t want anyone to see him putting on his sports bra to prevent jiggling when he runs.”
“Joey has enough guts to do anything. He joined the wrestling team and won his first bout in ten seconds fat. He’s now advanced to sumo wrestling.”
“The school track team has nine athletes who qualify to run a marathon. That’s 26.3 miles. They practice by running circles around Joey.”
The crowd roars in laughter as Joey throws up his hands, unprepared for the onslaught of humiliation. Joey waddles away, leading to more cries of laughter. Kids are doubling over, grasping their sides, and pointing.
For decades, portliness was fodder for bullying. Some people are shamed into bulking up and getting fit. More often, the belittlement leads to diminishing self-worth, eating disorders, and anti-social behavior.
By the time Mikey becomes Michael and Joey becomes Joe, a trend towards acceptance overtaked general consciousness. The driving forces against body shaming are social media and entertainment. By casting corpulent actors in serious roles and shaming the shamers on public media, people see obesity through a different, more acceptable, lens.
The hashtags are diversity and inclusiveness. Groups apply it to everything, from physical disabilities and race to obesity and sexual orientation. Be careful how the media crafts your perception of morality. Here is something else to ponder. Does broad acceptance make obesity healthy?
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