We’re consuming the notions that fat people don’t deserve love, that our purpose is to assist other roles or provide comic relief.
By Jordan Daniels
I am a fat token.
I know it’s uncomfortable to hear, but I’m speaking to the fact that in almost all of my friend groups, I’m the only fat person. This isn’t necessarily a problem, except that it is because it’s hard to find many friend groups with more than one fat person in them, if any at all.
If you are that “fat friend”, then you’re probably used to being compared to another fat person. Jonah Hill is the go-to for many when they see me. This was most apparent when I recently went to a bar in Santa Monica with my friends. This seemingly nice man came up to me and said, “You look just like Jonah Hill!”
I replied, “I have no idea why, but thanks.”
He continued with, “ Are you as funny as he is?”
This is what stumped me. Not only was he comparing me to Jonah Hill because of my weight, but he was about to pit us against each other to see who was funnier, as if being funnier gave one of us more social currency.
This perpetuates the notion that fat people have to compete for acceptance. This is problematic because it diminishes the actual worth of a person. This is problematic because it makes people like me a commodity; a token to this thin-driven society.
If you’re fat, you have to be funny. I call it the “Fat-Funny Syndrome,” a completely non-medical but socially accurate term that describes someone (whether fat, thin or in-between), who plays into the idea that fatness and comedic ability go hand-in-hand. We have to be the next Jonah Hill or Mo’Nique.
We’re expected to either make the joke or be it. If not, then where is our value? Think of Fat Amy in “Pitch Perfect,” the hilarious sidekick to the heroine, Becca. While there is definitely a sense of empowerment with her character and the embracing of her body, it’s the fact that she has no actual arc that’s the problem. People make jokes about her and she makes them about herself, but does she really have a story? We even see her confidence and sexuality as funny because the thought of a fat person having such power makes people uncomfortable.
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