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The Thin Man vs the Not Thin Corpse | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Thin Man vs the Not Thin Corpse

As many of you know, I love movies. I watch a lot of them, because I love them so much. Movie channels, DVDs, I love a good movie.

The other day, I was flipping channels when I ran across the start of The Thin Man. I love the whole series. After all, it features a pair of hard-drinking socialites who solve crimes in their spare time. Plus Asta rules! What’s not to love?

Well, there was this interesting bit of dialogue concerning the mortal remains of a gentleman that had just been discovered:

He must have weighed 250 pounds if he weighed an ounce.

Here’s something. (Hands cane to Nick)

Rubber-tipped. Must have been lame.

Who wouldn’t be, carrying all that weight around?

Admittedly, it had been a very long time since I’d seen the film, but I kind of wonder why that never stood out to me before, when I’ve known people all my life who are both fatter than that and very physically active. I’ve been fatter than that (at five-foot-two, no less!) and physically active. The only person I know under the age of seventy who uses a cane does so not because he’s fat (though he happens to be), but because he blew out his kneecap many years ago while dancing at a Victorian ball (and weighing more than 250 pounds)whereupon his doctors mismanaged the injury badly. And you can’t even make a case for the incredible strain on his knee from all that weight being a factor since he’d had bad knees from childhood. Bad knees run in his family. Fat or thin, they all have problems with their knees.

Again, it just goes to prove that most people have no idea what any specific level of fat looks like. What’s more, they never did…but they’ve made a lot of assumptions about health based on misguided ideas about what fat looks like.

Nothing new under the sun. Sigh.

12 Responses to “The Thin Man vs the Not Thin Corpse”

  1. Jacquilynne December 5, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    I remember being mocked by someone once, who declared that I was such a fat-ass I probably weighed 200 pounds. Given that I was nearly 300 at the time, I just assumed that while I was a fat-ass, he was a dumb-ass.

  2. Mimi Stratton December 5, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

    Twistie, darling, keep in mind that you are young. And as you get older, the extra weight may begin to have an effect on your knees. Or it may not, if you are very lucky. I myself have found it beneficial to follow medical best practice which includes trying to keep extra weight off joints to save my knees, where I’m now experiencing some pain. I don’t like being lectured to about my weight anymore than anyone else. But I realize the odds of having chronic knee pain increases with extra weight, particularly with age. I didn’t worry about this in my late 30’s and early 40’s, but it concerns me now.

  3. Mimi Stratton December 5, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    One other thing I meant to mention. The Nick and Nora movies (I adored them too) were made in the 30’s and 40’s. People did weigh less then. Nick probably weighed no more than 160 lbs, so dialogue describing a large person as 250 lbs, I think, would not have been a low-ball presumption or unreasonable.

  4. raincoaster December 5, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    Now, now; if memory serves it wasn’t the flawless Nick who said that line, but the “dunderheaded detective,” the one who, in Star Trek, would be wearing the red tunic.

  5. Twistie December 6, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    Actually, Mimi Stratton, I’m now in my late forties and come from a family where knees are generally pretty good. My father did have to quit Scottish country dancing in the last year or so of his life at seventy-four and well over 200 pounds, but it wasn’t his knees. It was that pesky lung cancer he got from asbestos exposure. I know that the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but multiple generations of fat people in my family who walked everywhere sans assistance well into their seventies and eighties does strike me as darn good odds.

    Fat, yes. Disabled by it, no.

    My life experience has been mostly that people who have trouble with their joints either have them because it runs in the family or because of accident or injury, not simply because they weigh more than average.

    @raincoaster: yes, it was the dunderheaded Detective Redshirt who delivered the line, but Nick appeared to agree with him. Anyway, what I was getting at was the assumption that fat = physically compromised is nothing new, but has never been an automatic thing. I’m saddened that one of the wittier scripts of all time is marred by that assumption, but it won’t make me not love Nick.

  6. Twistie December 6, 2009 at 1:17 am #

    Weirdly enough, I had set this article to post itself in the morning. Not quite sure why it’s up now, but there it is. Oh well. Must have done something silly.

  7. chachaheels December 6, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    I listened to an interview with George Clooney recently, in which he described playing a character in a 1920’s football team–and the problem with making authentic looking costumes and scenes for the film. He said, the actually football costumes for the team they were recreating on film still existed, by they could not be used, because the “big” men who wore them back then were all a foot shorter than the average man is now, and weighed significantly less despite being considered “hefty” sportsmen. I think in those times a man considered very tall (under six feet, mind you) would probably weigh between 130 and 150 lbs. If you add a foot of skeletal weight and volume plus accompanying muscle mass, you get an “average” man of 170-190 lbs today, at just under six feet. Most men over six feet will easily be up around the 200 lbs point without much fat on them–and a lot of athletic ones will weigh even more.

    So 250 lb. men would have been about 100 lbs. over the average weight back then, and much more unusual than they are now.

  8. Twistie December 6, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    Again, I’m not saying 250 pounds isn’t/couldn’t have been fat. I’m saying it doesn’t automatically require assistance for walking, and it never did, despite common assumptions that existed even then.

    At 5’2″ and 237 pounds the last time I was weighed (nearly a year ago), and having lost a considerable amount of weight over the previous three years, the only time I’ve needed assistance walking was when I wound up on crutches for a week after a really, really bad calf muscle pull. I’m well over a hundred pounds over what would be medically considered a ‘normal’ weight. I know a lot of people who are similarly sized. Most of us can walk sans assistance. The one who can’t always had bad knees and completely blew one out in a dancing accident.

    Just as you can’t tell someone’s blood pressure or cholesterol levels simply by looking at them, you cannot tell their joint health purely by taking a guess at their weight. Seriously. That was my point.

  9. class factotum December 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    My knees bother me because I am coming close to reaching my mileage limit. I do not have a weight problem (well, I don’t fit into some of my smaller clothes and I would like to), but I have been a (very slow) runner off and on for the past 25 years. I played soccer in junior high. I have done step aerobics for the past ten years. My knees hurt. I can’t run right now. I have friends my age (I am 46) who have bad knees and other joints who have been athletes and exercisers since their teens.

    My husband, whose only exercise is to walk from his second-floor office to the basement where he has hidden the Dill-pickle Pringles from himself, has no joint problems at all. He says that is because he has never played any sports or exercised and that I am reaping what I have sowed.

  10. Mifty December 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    I am 5’3″, and 47, and I weigh around 270 pounds, but I don’t have a “weight problem” either. (Not to snark — I realize we’re all kind of stuck with the terms that are in use.) And from my admittedly anecdotal experience, heavy-duty exercise, especially running, seems far more likely to screw up the knees than just being fat in itself.

    My knees were just dandy until a car accident mucked up the right one, and the left one has gradually gone bad over time with the imbalance. But it’s respiratory problems that keep me from exercising the way I’d like to — not my knees, and certainly not my weight. I swam every day at nearly this size, back when I could breathe (sigh). Nobody ever gave me any crap about how I looked in a bathing suit either :)

  11. class factotum December 7, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Mifty, I realized as soon as I walked away from the computer that I was going to get slammed with that! :) For what it’s worth, I DO have a weight problem in that I do not fit the standard of what any fashion magazine tells me I need to look like to be beautiful, but according to weight charts, I am (barely) within the lines.

  12. Evie December 7, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    I just have to throw this out there because I recently re-educated a clueless school nurse about it: acquiring bad joints from years of running has a lot more to do with poor technique, silly equipment, and a dash of bad genes than the sport itself. Most Americans who run do so on surfaces that are way too hard (sidewalks and roads!!) and wear super cushy sneakers that pretty much destroy natural foot movement. We also have a tendency to run “on our joints,” meaning we bounce straight up and down, taking tiny steps and landing on our heels, instead of using our muscles to propel us forward. To add insult to injury, many runners (especially women), don’t add strength training to their exercise regimens, which leads to muscular imbalances and adds even more stress to your joints.

    I can’t speak for other high-impact sports, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were similar issues. If you have good genes to start with, you’re using the right equipment and technique, and you’re training properly, you really shouldn’t be getting joint problems from sports unless you’re competing at an elite level (in which case you’re bound to get a stress injury eventually).