Fat Jokes Aren’t Funny… They Hurt.

There was a very interesting article a few days ago in USATODAY.com on the op-ed page by Barbara D’Sousa about how fat jokes aren’t funny. It compares, I think quite eloquently, anti-fat person jokes to jokes about people of color, women, etc.

The article points out how many jokes and even whole movies (Shallow Hal and the Nutty Professor just to name a couple) are basically just two-hour fat jokes.

It also points out how, for over-weight people, these jokes (and millions like them) are hurtful and mean.

What do YOU think?  Care to comment?
It was well done, and the article made a great point.

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Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Humor Expert, Pro at Safe Humor

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17 replies
  1. Tonya
    Tonya says:

    That has got to be so humiliating. Overweight people often struggle with poor self-esteem and want to hide. Those types of jokes seem to shine the spotlight on them and make it that much harder for them.

  2. Miah
    Miah says:

    i don’t think fat jokes are funny, though i’d compare them more to cancer jokes than to others. being fat is dangerous. it raises blood pressure, onsets diabetes, etc. i used to be about twenty pounds heavier…never fat, per se, but definately overweight. people are nicer to think people, i can tell you that. when people are nicer, you have a better self-image, because what are “other people” but the mirror you look into everyday, that feeds you back information about who you are? if people ignore you or treat you badly, it just seems that’s the way it is.

  3. Matthew Walker
    Matthew Walker says:

    I think if the fat person is mean and rude like the one woman I work with then I don’t feel any remorse telling them. If the person is kind and sweet then I will respect them and not even think about calling them overweight.

  4. Beth Terry
    Beth Terry says:

    Hey Brad – you know, as time goes on, some things are funny and then they aren’t. Often they reflect the neuroses of the time. A lot of the fat jokes are told by people who used to be fat or who still struggle with it. So it’s self-deprecating humor.

    I found this article interesting -it’s the world’s oldest jokes found in archeological digs. None of them seem funny to us now… maybe you had to be there:
    http://webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com/whatsnew/package.jsp?name=fte/oldestjoke/oldestjoke&floc=wn-dx

  5. kurtkuddy
    kurtkuddy says:

    fat jokes are extremely funny i hate fat people i make fun of fat people on a daily basis and its extremely funny but i banged a fat girl once it was alright it

  6. MEGAN
    MEGAN says:

    im quite fat myself but when some one says fat jokes i find them hillarious because even if they are about me theyre funny you just got to think its funny and dont take it seriously!!!! because they are actully very funny even if i am fat! IM FAT!!!! I DONRT CARE ITS FUNNY!! IM SO FATE A BUS HIT ME AND I SAID OY WHO THROUGH THAT STONE? SEE ITS FUNNY

  7. LEEANNE
    LEEANNE says:

    THERE ARE JOKES FOR EVERY KIND OF PEOPLE OUT THERE AND DONT YOU THINK THAT THAT HURTS THEM TO IF YOU DONT LIKE FAT JOKES THAN DONT READ THEM YEAH THERE WRONG BUT SO ARE ALL THE OTHER JOKES THAT PEOPLE SAY ABOT PEOPLE!!!!!!!

  8. ASHLEY SOTO
    ASHLEY SOTO says:

    OMG that is mean u shouldnt make fun of fat ppl, and the proper way to say a mean joke is…PUT THAT IN UR FACE AND SMOKE IT,because honestly there r nice ppl out there honestly idk what kind of job this is but who ever told u to be urself couldnt have gavein u the worse advise ever!! u can totally ruin some1ns life like that. that video must of been horrible ooops despite what i probly did to ur face!!! HONESTLY IF U WERE SMART U WOULDNT BE WORKING ON THE INTERNET WHERE TWO CENTS ARE WORHT UR TIME TRULY GET A LIFE=]

  9. ASHLEY SOTO IS A SEXY BEOTCH
    ASHLEY SOTO IS A SEXY BEOTCH says:

    PPL LOOK AT THESE THINGS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO LEAVE MEAN COMMENTS ON IT CUZ ITS WRONG, AND NO ITS EVEN MORE WRONG THAT PPL ARE USEING THESE BECAUSE THEY ARE GETTING OWNED TO MUCH THAT CAN THINK OF THERE OWN EXCUSES WOW THATS LAME AND SOOO ARE THE PPL WHO LIKE THESE MORE TO LOVE BABY JOKES PS. LEEANNE U.G.O.T.O.W.N.E.D!

  10. Motivational Speakers: Brad Montgomery
    Motivational Speakers: Brad Montgomery says:

    Wow! Fat jokes clearly are hitting a nerve with my readers. What’s the worst offending joke you’ve ever heard and why? Was it a fat joke?

  11. Smeagol
    Smeagol says:

    Fat jokes are wrong and if you want a laugh you can find much funnier things on the internet being overweight is a problem that they have to deal with so why would anybody want to make it harder for them they are they have the risk of getting diabetes and high blood pressure if you think that’s funny then you have something very wrong with you.

    Would you laugh at a cancer patient?

  12. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    If you want to laugh at overweight people then your sick!

    and if your sick enough to laugh at overweight people then i’m laughing at you not them!

  13. smeagol
    smeagol says:

    Fat jokes are wrong! overweight people have enough trouble deal with high blood pressure and diabetes and if you think that’s funny then there’s something very wrong with YOU!

    Would you laugh at a cancer patient?

  14. Debbie Iancu-Haddad
    Debbie Iancu-Haddad says:

    WOW – I have a rather long response – I wrote my MA Thesis on DIET HUMOR and the first thing i did was analyze the difference between diet humor and fat jokes (you can read a whole paper on the subject on my website):

    The difference between Fat Jokes and Diet Humor
    Another methodological concern was trying to define which items belong to the category of diet humor. Many attempts to find examples of diet humor on the Internet and in other texts produced jokes that mock overweight individuals. Although the same key words are used, these jokes are very different from the jokes that belong to diet humor. For the purposes of analysis, humor pertaining to diet behavior and overweight people has been divided into two categories: diet humor and fat jokes.
    Diet humor, which I will discuss at length later on, ridicules the diet culture, its practices and rules. Jokes in this category demonstrate understanding and compassion towards people who are dieting. The jokes relate to the process and conventions of the diet culture as ridiculous and irrational.
    Fat jokes, on the other hand, ridicule people who are overweight. They portray them as abnormal, equate their size with various items of immense proportion, attributing their condition to personality characteristics.
    Fat jokes draw a clear boundary between aesthetically acceptable and unacceptable figures. Fat jokes categorize all people who are overweight as aesthetically offensive. The following joke asserts that people who are overweight are unpleasant to be around:
    “I have a great diet. You’re allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people”. (Ed Bluestone – Internet site)
    The next joke takes this assumption even further, by defining those who are overweight as abnormal:
    Jon – “Garfield, it’s time to put you on another diet”.
    Garfield – “Do you know what a diet could do to me? I could waste away to normal”. (The Merriam Webster and Garfield dictionary).
    Fat people are excluded from the “normal” category and are marginalized by society. Fat jokes emphasize that fat people do not fit conventional standards. These jokes imply they cannot “fit” into the everyday aspects of life. Mundane experiences are seen as different for the overweight.
    Fat jokes imply that fat people are not only different but also pose a threat. Some ‘fat jokes’ describe the large person as a potential obstruction or danger others. For example:
    You know your diet isn’t working when you’re refused entry to Venice because it’s already sinking. (Burgess, 2001).
    These jokes suggest that overweight people are dangerous, that they can by their sheer weight sink a ship, crash a plane or submerge a city, and seriously interfere with the rest of society. They are excluded from normal groups and depicted as “menaces”
    Fat jokes also pass moral judgment on overweight people. They attribute certain psychological characteristics, depicting the large person as greedy, gluttonous, and constantly preoccupied with food. They suggest that there is something inherently wrong with people who are overweight. Obese people are assumed to be eating instead of dealing with personal issues. Fat jokes imply that fat people have little or no self-control. They paint them as immature, incapable of dealing with the rules of proper conduct and adult behavior.
    For those who are overweight even belonging to the human race cannot be taken for granted. Some fat jokes emphasize fat people’s size and weight by comparing them with large animals, such as elephants, whales, cows and pigs. These animals also have negative connotations (dirty, stupid, gluttonous) adding insult to injury. Such jokes categorize fat people as sub-human and uncivilized. Being overweight is seen as more natural than cultural (Ortner, 1974), but it is a reflection of nature’s untamed, uncivilized aspects, that need to be controlled.
    Other jokes of this type liken the obese to houses, continents and other large objects and so effectively strip them of any status as living beings (did you read the one about the bus above?). If the obese are just large objects, they have no feelings, needs or rights. They may be treated cruelly with no consideration and no repercussions.
    It is noteworthy that fat jokes can be about men or women, as opposed to diet humor that will be examined later on, which is primarily female oriented. It follows that gender is immaterial when an individual is judged only by his or her weight. Gender is important when discussing sexual desire, but the obese are never seen as sexual objects. The only instances when fat jokes involve sex are when a large woman is shown forcing herself onto an unwilling man. The joke is his obvious discomfort, and her inability to perceive herself as “repulsive”.
    Fat jokes are oppressive because they strip those who are overweight of normalcy, dignity, sanity, and morality. They take away their place in society and finally reject them from the human collective.
    Fat jokes are important because they present a mirror image of diet humor. The people that fat jokes define as abnormal are constituted by diet humor as normal, positioned at the center of society instead of at its margins.
    Diet jokes on the other hand define love of food and eating as sane and abstinence from eating as strange. In diet humor gender is everything – dieting is primarily a feminine activity, one that connects women everywhere.
    It is impossible to examine diet humor without acknowledging the influence of fat jokes. Fat jokes are part of society’s pressure to conform to the thin ideal. One classical anthropological approach to humor argues that humor supports the social order, keeping people in their places (Sherzer, 1990). Fat jokes promote the normative body dictated by the hegemony. Diet humor outlines the conflict between the hegemonic ideal and its physical realization.

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