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Fat Jokes | Manolo for the Big Girl

Fat Jokes

I don’t tell fat jokes, at least I don’t THINK I tell fat jokes.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not so good at remembering things. One time someone passed around some quotes from an article about…well, of course I can’t remember, Iggy Pop maybe? Reinforced heel stocking? It’s anyone’s guess really, but I was all “yeah! This dude knows what he’s talking about!” and started feeling slightly better about The State of Music Criticism Today only to find out I’d actually written it about three years earlier. Ah, the NyQuil years. Good times.

Anyway, I guess my problems with fat jokes is that there aren’t really very many new or interesting takes. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t make jokes out of camaraderie about our shared fat girl experience, but generally, they just leave me cold. It’s lazy humor.

Once upon a time, the second of my mother’s string of Ill-Advised Marriage Choices moo-ed at a large woman getting off an elevator. A grown man –obviously I hesitate to say adult– saw a fat woman and thought it would be the height of Baudelairian wit and satire to go “moo.”


Now, I do not say there isn’t a space in the Venn Diagram of Life where incisive social commentary and barnyard sounds overlap, but I think it’s safe to say that unless it’s 1945 and your name is George Orwell, odds are you do not fit in that category (also, if you actually ARE a barnyard animal who makes incisive social commentary, in which case a: cool, b: what on EARTH did you google to get to this site?)

I guess they just still seem offside to me. Maybe it would be one thing if anti-fat bias wasn’t still so strong and tacitly (or not so tacitly) accepted, but Lord knows I’m about as sensitive as Don Rickles’ therapist and even I know it’s going on.

So what about you, what’s your take on fat jokes?

20 Responses to “Fat Jokes”

  1. Pegs May 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    I totally make fat jokes – but only about myself, and not in ways that are meant to degrade my body. For example, if I do something that isn’t “acceptable” or expected for fat people, I can be all “Yeah that’s right, nobody expects the fat kid to do xyz. But I totally did.” That or things like “There’s no way my fat genetically blessed-for-popping-out-babies butt will fit in that seat.”

    Majority of fat jokes are pathetic from a comedic standpoint, with nothing clever or even remotely original about them. They’re on par with jokes about women where the punchline is that we’re sooooooo emotional and crazy, and only care about shoes and weddings. They really aren’t jokes at all – just thinly disguised cruelty towards another person, where the coward can fall back on “I was only kidding, get a sense of humor” so they don’t have to take responsibility for what they’ve said.

  2. Courtney May 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    They aren’t amusing to me. They fall into the category of racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes that all have a basic intent of tearing people down for no reason. Along with “that’s what she said” type jokes and purposeful puns, they form the lowest type of humor, and I don’t find them witty or interesting at all.

  3. Dawn May 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Fat jokes can bite me. I have a troll who calls me “Fattie” — an ex friend and a current gay, not a group that I would think enjoys name calling either! I know I’m, ah, big and beautiful, but it does bug me that my brains and abilities and features can be discounted by the unwashed masses as “not as defining a characteristic as fat.”

  4. Maria May 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    You are too funny! You had me ROFL with this post. Onto your question: no fat jokes, or racist jokes, or dumb blond jokes, or… well you get it. Laughing at someone’s expense is vulgar and mean. So I choose to not be amused, even when the meanie vulgar mini me would want to laugh. Do unto others and all that good stuff.

  5. Thea May 20, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    I have a zero tolerance for fat jokes, racist jokes and gay jokes and I don’t start fights but I end them…ask the guy whose been known as ‘raisin nuts’ ever since high school…

  6. Jenny May 21, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    I got moo’ed at a few months ago by a group of teenage boys. I turned around and went back to them and asked if they had a carer or aide about, since the only grown people I’ve ever heard make animal noises in public were the mentally disabled. On reflection my grouping of those boys with the mentally disabled was unfair to the mentally disabled.

  7. Jophiel May 21, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    @Jenny, you made me laugh. No fat jokes, but last week yet another teenage boy thought it hilarious to yell “Konichiwa!” at me on the street, and I damn near tore him a (verbal) new one.

    To go Gene-Weingarten-y on you, a joke is funny for the same reason a stereotype is “valid”: it takes an set of assumptions (usually with a kernel of truth to them) and uses it to say something thought-provoking or clever. Beyond the fact that they’re insensitive, fat jokes aren’t that clever, because they’re nothing to assume about big people other than that… they’re big. End of story.

    @Plumcake Perhaps “shoes” and “cloven hooves”?

  8. The gold digger May 21, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    They really aren’t jokes at all – just thinly disguised cruelty towards another person, where the coward can fall back on “I was only kidding, get a sense of humor” so they don’t have to take responsibility for what they’ve said.

    A yes. Variation 423(a) of the “At Least I’m Honest About It” defense.

  9. BSAG May 21, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Not long ago someone told me I “speak very well for an American.” I replied, “Yes, and I also don’t sweat much for a fat girl.”

    Everyone within earshot was appropriately shocked, impressed or put-in-their-place, respectively. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever come to telling a fat joke. I certainly hope I’ve never told one about someone else.

  10. annie May 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m a blonde and I’ve always loved blonde jokes because they were about me! Were I fat also, I think I’d also love fat jokes. Why not?

  11. retna May 22, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I won’t make fat jokes especially not about myself and I will never, ever laugh at a bloody fat joke even at someone else. I’m just particular that way. That being said I do giggle at baby animals and make funny faces at babies. I can’t help it – I love them. Fat jokes are not funny, they are insulting and cruel. My worst experience was with a co-worker who was interested in developing a relationship that I wasn’t keen on. After I made it clear, the fat jokes started. I was younger then and used to cry in the loo and hate going to work. Things have changed, I grew some.

  12. ZaftigWendy May 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    @annie: Blonde jokes aren’t as offensive, because blondes are a privileged group. Blonde hair is thought by many to be the preferred hair color, and even for those who don’t prefer it, it carries no actual stigma. So blonde people have no problem telling or hearing jokes about their hair color, because it’s a non-issue (heck, I’m blonde, too, and I LOVE a good blonde joke)

    Fat-people, on the other hand, are highly stigmatized. We’re commonly thought to be gluttonous, lazy, and dirty. And the jokes always reflect those stereotypes, and reinforce them, even though those things aren’t actually true of most fat people. Making jokes at our expense is just not funny. It’s humiliating.

  13. Astra May 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    I don’t make jokes necessarily but I do describe myself as being descended from German peasant stock and note that “I winter well.” Both of which are true.

  14. harri p. May 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    I like fat jokes. I make them about myself all the time. Why not? And I love “your momma so fat” jokes. There isn’t a subject around that I can’t or won’t make a joke about. That’s what humor is for.

    Mooing at a fat woman isn’t a joke–it’s just a nasty comment.

  15. annie May 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    The underlying assumption of blonde jokes is that blondes are dumb. I wouldn’t call this a privileged position.

  16. Carly McCall May 24, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    I will certainly make self-referential fat jokes…. in fact I’m proud to insert the word ‘fat’ in front of ‘@ss’ when talking about myself! (Or to jokingly threaten to squash a loved one with my ginormous butt when they’re getting cheeky.)

    But mooing at someone? That is NEVER ok. EVERRRRR. Basically, cruel fat jokes directed at others – or at yourself, if the subtext is ‘I hate my body’ – are not a lot different to racism, or making fun of a kid with big ears or an amputee or a burn victim. Just not freaking cool. And I tend to get pretty outspoken when confronted with any of it; in fact I’ve ended friendships and given up a chance at a pretty good job as a result.

  17. Thea May 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    @Annie, troll much?

  18. wildflower May 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Blonde jokes are only not hurtful when the teller is blonde and obviously defies the stereotype of being dumb. I’m Chinese and like to tell Chinese jokes, all in good fun.

    It’s quite something else when the teller is making fun of a group of which he/she is not a part.

    We have to remember: while everyone loves to laugh, and a skilled jokester is always appreciated at parties, being funny is not a *value*. It’s not worth sacrificing kindness, integrity, or consideration of others’ feelings, to be funny. So if you are at ALL concerned that a joke may hurt anyone’s feelings, better not to tell it. Just my opinion.

  19. Jezebella May 26, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I never tell fat jokes, any more than I would tell a racist, homophobic, or sexist joke. Frankly, there’s nothing funny about making fun of fat people.

    I will make a self-deprecating comment now and again, when I’m amongst friends, but that’s not the same thing as a “fat joke.” The self-deprecation may involve the size of my ass, or it could be about my elevated geek factor, or perhaps my tendency to trip & fall.

    I hate it when I’m watching a show I’m enjoying (say, Big Bang Theory, which is usually pretty smart) and get gobsmacked by a totally gratuitous fat joke. It just ruins the whole show for me.

  20. dinazad June 6, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    If somebody “moos” you, I think the only way to react is to thank the “mooer” brightly. After all, cows, unlike the mooer, are useful, valuable (think of mythological wars started over stolen cows – or pigs, for that matter, of people hanged over a stolen cow, etc. etc.), have beautiful eyes, are curious (always a positive trait), and have had goddesses compared to them (and you’d better not call a goddess anything she doesn’t consider a compliment. Very unwise thing to do). It’s a compliment, it is….