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Friday, January 20, 2017

Everybody’s got something.

Maybe it’s something you were born with, maybe something that happened to you, maybe something you did to yourself through bad habits or neglect. But everybody’s got something, some physical or emotional blemish measuring the distance from you to perfection.

Maybe you’re a short guy or a gawky woman. Maybe you’re ugly. Maybe you’ve got cellulite, depression, anorexia, alcoholism, gingivitis, psoriasis or a big nose. Maybe you’re fat.

Gabourey Sidibe is fat. Morbidly obese, to be exact.

One doubts this comes as news to the 30-year-old actress, best known for her starring role in 2009’s Precious. Everybody’s got something. More to the point, everybody is dealing with something. That’s what makes us human.

But although Sidibe surely knows this, once in a while someone — who apparently struggles with nothing — will take it upon themselves to remind her of her weight, usually in the coarsest and cruelest manner they can.

In 2009, for instance, some individual online dubbed her a “gorilla.” Sidibe was photographed last week at the Golden Globes and sure enough, here they came again: jibes via Twitter to tell her, in case she has forgotten, that she is fat. One called her “the GLOBE.” Another said she missed the “hour-glass look” by 10 hours. And et cetera.

To which Sidibe shot back that she cried about those comments “on that private jet on my way to my dream job.” Obviously, the lady doesn’t need me to defend her. So this is not a defense, but simply a question: How did this kind of cruelty — meaning not the occasional fat joke on Letterman, but this sort of truly sadistic and personal meanness — become acceptable? Indeed, commonplace?

25 Responses to A Big Issue For Small Minds

    • Who makes the decision of what is considered “norm.” You are a person, and as such, demand that we treat you with decency. This is what I was taught by my mother and what I try to enbody in my day-to-day relationships.

  1. I agree that everybody has got something. I get difficulties to understand why people don’t accept the reality. If you are fat, skinny, ugly or whatever and someone says it, why is it the problem? Should we always give false compliments and make others feel good while it is quite ironic? I think pinpointing something on someone, sometimes helps. Like Chris Christie he was very much attacked by being overweight. See now what effort he has put on to make a difference on his looks.

  2. The question of “how did we get here”? Seems to come from the gop…almost exclusively…this militarization of politics has had a negative impact on CIVILITY…the civil discourse in our nation has been subsumed by the one and only consideration of WINNING at any cost…if one listens closely to the gop, you will hear this…but if you listen too closely, you will get scared and will start hating on levels never dreamed of a few years ago…

  3. While it’s true that the best teachers and parents excel at catching children being good and complimenting them, ever since “Caveperson Days” as they call it on “Sesame Street,” nowadays students in writer’s workshops find it easier to offer criticism than praise. And there, too, where students discuss each other’s writing face-to-face, kindness seems to be a lost art, sometimes even courtesy. I notice also that when criticism is a knee-jerk reaction, it is easier to ignore–and more likely to be discounted. Imagine, someone says something vicious about you, to your face, and it makes no difference. Well, you probably didn’t care about writing anyway.

    • Back when I was teaching and had to see parents for conferences, my boss advised me to always say a good thing about their child before I mentioned a fault. People need to heard that they did something right before you criticize them, even if they deserve criticism. It is like a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. If you only criticize, people get demoralized, and angry. There are a lot of demoralized, angry people out there, because people have forgotten to treat others with patience, understanding, and kindness. I hope we come full circle in that destructive cycle, and get back to being kind.

  4. Who doesn’t know our public conversation has become courser? And, not
    only in politics. I watched a cable movie the other day. And, it was no, “B,”
    flick. Big budget, big Stars, decent plot. But, here’s the thing. As we know
    the F-word can be used as a noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, and
    so on. So they did. At every opportunity, ad nauseam. It was cable, and they are supposed to cuss, I guess. But, the language on regular television has also followed the trend. I can hear the t.v. execs talking to the censors now.
    Look, they cuss over there, you have to allow us to cuss some too. So the days of the censors insisting Ricky, and Lucy Ricardo, have twin bunks for
    the bedroom scenes. Or worrying about offending sensibilities with Barbara Eden’s, naked navel, are long gone. And some believe that’s a good thing.
    But I’m not so sure. Sometimes it seems they substitute racy dialogue, for intelligent, or funny dialogue. The former being much easier to write, than
    the latter. Want a cheap laugh? Insert foul word, or insult. Run laugh track.
    And we wonder why bullying has become so rampant, as to be National
    crisis. In some circles, to be called, “politically correct,” is a major insult.
    I once heard a radio talk show show host declare, “Political Correctness,
    is killing America.” Then, he launched into a tirade aganist same sex marriage. The rule being, if we preface our bigoted, ugly, or disrespectful comments by first acknowledging, if we think a person is overweight, and decide to say so. We’ll not be restrained by such disposable mores as respect for the other person’s feelings, civility, or even the pretense of caring what other people think of us. We know there is a group out there that will admire us for being a callous boor, and a lout, And that group, has no doubt about it, been having a field day.

  5. Absolutely dead on Mr. Pitts: “we are a people who spend half our days gazing down at screens and that,
    I think, has changed us. We’ve become unused to interacting with one
    another and we’re not very good at it anymore. We have, many of us, lost
    the knack of treating people like people…..Too many of us have forgotten a basic rule of what used to be called
    home training. There are some things you just don’t say to or about
    another human being in a public forum. Saying the thing anyway tells us
    less about the person you’re talking about than about you and your lack
    of class.”

  6. Thank you for such an enlightening article….I agree 100%. We ALL have something about ourselves we’d like to change, but it’s no one’s business but ours!

  7. I agree that any criticism of political figures has to be based upon more than their physical appearance. Personally, I find a number of more substantive reasons to criticize Gov. Christie than his weight. Specifically, his policies and his ways of interacting with his allies and his political opponents. What makes the fat jokes tempting in his case (and this may be one reason he has publicly announced his attempts at weight control) is that his POLITICAL BEHAVIOR is metaphorically that of an overweight bully. We have the phrase “throwing his weight around” (seldom “her” weight for some reason) because we visualize a large man pushing a smaller man away from a objective for which he is entitled to strive; and we have the phrase “fat cat” for one who has money and power. The coincidence, if it is one, that the Governor ACTS like a “fat cat” who “throws his weight around” to bully others, makes it so much easier to make fat jokes. An obese gentleman who has good manners and is kind to others may be called a “teddy bear,” but at least that is a positive way of looking at him. As far as I have seen, Gov. Christie has not been shown acting like a teddy bear; more like an aggressive grizzly.

    By the way, GOOD bodily features can be stereotyped also. One reason why progressives refer to former Governor Sarah Palin as “Caribou Barbie” is that she projects the image of being extremely beautiful (and she is, for a mother with a grown child and several younger ones), and does so deliberately, but seems (in public at least) to have no intellect beyond the repeating of dubious talking points, thus invoking the stereotype of an empty headed “Barbie doll.” The same seems to be true of many young women hired by Faux Nooz as commentators. Someone recently commented on the fact that the first time he heard Sarah Cupp, who uses her initials, introduce herself “I’m S. E. Cupp,” he thought for a moment she was saying “I’m a C cup,” and he found much of what she said about the political topic of the day to be on the same level (could it be that her introduction is a DELIBERATE pun to get attention?).

    And it’s not only women. Congressman Paul Ryan (and President Vladimir Putin, strangely) emphasize their body building and their trim, fit physiques, so when Cong. Ryan says things that are not necessarily so, pundits may be tempted to use phrases such as “pretty boy” or “Ken doll” to describe him. They are probably afraid to say that about Pres. Putin.

  8. 33% of us are obese and 60% overweight so using weight as a political weapon is a looser. Corzine found that out when neck and neck with Christie he made a commercial alluding to his girth. Corzine’s numbers dropped after that.
    Christie on the other hand used that size to develop the bully personality we see today. He was probably the one that was teased on the playground and took out his rage on smaller kids,and that rage continues today. Christie doesn’t just get mad at people but enraged with them. Anyone who has seen U-tube videos of him shouting at citizens on the boardwalk can see it. He did the same in the front pages of the state’s paper to a manager in the budget office of the legislature, calling him names, like knucklehead and his common practice of calling people idiots, all because he ran the math and said Christie didn’t have enough money for a tax cut to the wealthy. This bully personality has led people who work for him to conclude that mayors and others need payback if they cross his line. He lacks the temperament to be in control of nuclear warheads. Can you imagine president Christie calling some head of state an idiot.
    This is someone who used his weight to push others around and will continue with that mindset.

    • Christie, in my opinion, has a classic case of narcissitic personality disorder, just like Donald Trump. Both bullys. They get high on there own self worth. Their alpha male endorphins in the brain crave control and dominance where most of us simply want to love and respect each other, albeit in a more uncivil maner these days..

      Sandy Hotchkiss, PsyD, LCSW, is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Southern California. Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism….

      See if any of these traits are leading our society into uncivil behavior towards each otehrs as Pitss is writing about:

      1. Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
      2. Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
      3. Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
      4. Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
      5. Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
      6. Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
      7. Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.

      • 3 and 4 are definitely him. He is also mean spirited being the 1st republican to do away with the earned income tax that benefits the poor. He is also a typical republican, attacking the teachers union, defunding planned parenthood, and vetoing his own gun legislation because the TP in NH said they wouldn’t vote for him if he signed it.

    • I wonder how long he’s been overweight? His wedding picture showed a trim guy. His personality may just be a stereotypical Jersey thug.

  9. Valid points, but it seems to me the cruelty in the case of Christie is mostly on his side, as well as the small-mindedness. Bullying other people is as ugly and small-minded as the cruel comments about the person this article was about (frankly, I’ve never heard of her). So, why is the article about someone else headlined with Christie’s picture? If you want to emphasize his small-mindedness, then don’t spend the article talking about someone else. If you want to attack the small-minded the article deals with, why not use their pictures?
    I don’t like Chris Christie, but using his photo here seems way off base to me.

    • I believe the article was intended to be about Gov. Christie AND other persons in the public eye who are insulted about their weight (and other outward appearance issues). The actress mentioned is one whose acting talent won her awards through her portrayal of a character (the title role in “Precious”) who is ALSO overweight and has other self-esteem issues at the beginning of the story, but who overcomes the mental pain though without losing weight. Obviously, a “normal” sized actress could not play such a role without a “fat suit,” which may be acceptable for comedy, but not for serious drama; and an actress who was NEVER overweight would not have the empathy to draw out the character’s pain anyway.

      So, unlike the case of Gov. Christie, the woman mentioned in the article was ridiculed for precisely the “fault” that helped her to portray her character convincingly enough to win the award. And at least two more established actresses, Cathy Bates and Conchata Ferrell (currently playing Berta on “Two and a Half Men”), and the newly popular Melissa McCarthy (“Mike and Molly”), have had to fight that issue, even though their success comes from portraying overweight characters — with ATTITUDE.

  10. Wow. A good article. You talk about home training that most of us have received. The problem is that the next generation is failing. My husband went to get some KFC after we doing errands all day. He comes home & asked me to guess what this family of 4 were doing. I told him they were all on their phones. He seem so shocked. When we went out with our kids, it was family time. We talked about our day and anything that was on our schedules. He didn’t think that they even know how to talk with each other. Yes we do spend more time on social media but our children are even worse.

  11. I was fat as a kid. Back then being fat was unusual because the overwhelming majority of kids were “normal” size. So I was the brunt of a constant stream of fat jokes. I was normal size until I was in the fifth grade and then because of emotional trauma began to gain a lot of weight. The number of jokes decreased as I grew older and in my senior year I lost a lot of weight. I kept my weight off through the military. I generally stayed within a 20 pound range during my 20s and 30s. When I quit smoking I gained 100 pounds and once again I am really struggling with my weight. The point is for those of us who grew up fat in earlier decades it was generally a painful and lonely experience. I used self-depreciating humor to foil the volleys of fat jokes that I knew would soon be hurled at me. My favorite was one I used to think was one of my own: I’m not fat. I’m just too short for my weight! When I was in my late 20s and at my normal weight I sought out an attractive, professional and overweight woman in a bar one night. We went out a few times until I told her about my own weight history. Her reason for not dating me anymore was that she wanted a normal guy and not a former fat guy. For me, that statement revealed the pain she was in. I dated a very beautiful woman who had so many “issues” about her body that it became painful to listen to. The saddest part was that self-dissatisfaction effected her entire life. As Mr. Pitts says fat jokes are cruel. But the biggest cruelty of all is that, throughout our history, humans tend to first make judgments on what they see on the exterior without any regard as to what is inside the person they judge on a superficial basis. Same old crap. But now we can fling it far and wide on the internet.

    • Very interesting observation and personal story…

      I liked this when you stated: “But the biggest cruelty of all is that, throughout our history, humans
      tend to first make judgments on what they see on the exterior without
      any regard as to what is inside the person they judge on a superficial

      My mother way back in good old days played an interesting game with me after I learned about Helen Keller… She wanted me to experience the ability to get accustomed to my surroundings and get an idea as to what not being able to see was like… by making me wear a mask that covered my eyes for a couple hours… she would ask me to try and walk around to see what it was like to be blind like another person…

      Hard for us to teach that outward appearances mean nothing when we live in a culture based on outward appearances. Our society is also based on our sense of hearing…..not listening but hearing….because too often we use our ears to only hear ourselves shouting at the world….thus our small minds cannot handle the bigger issues…

      Do…say….think…. speak…. act…towards other human beings as you would like others to do…say….think…. speak…. act… towards you….

  12. Certainly, centralized control, abolition of private property, or both, are the most effective ways to force people to chase collectivist illusions such as “social justice” and “equality of condition”.

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