Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fatness and frailty

The Thanksgiving holiday has been a boost to well-being, the world slowed a lot, fewer men appeared in public, and those that did seemed utterly content and fat. My mother loves this place, the scale is understandable and feels right; people are so pleasant and friendly and personal. She can’t get over it. And then there is the weather! It’s been perfect for days--fit for idleness only--and Isabella and I have taken advantage of it. We have been together two or three hours every day, today almost four. Just cavorting and romping through all and any backroads in the state.

I stopped for a stogie and cup of coffee in Wooster and my eyes hit upon this in the New York Times. Fat and scholarship--or, rather, Fat Studies--is the issue. I would not have continued reading it if it were just another scientific study proving why it is better to have that lean and hungry look rather than one that is fatter (and more trustworthy!). So the American academy is now going to have something called "Fat Studies"! This is right next to queer studies, disability studies, ethnic studies, etc., and will no doubt have its "Fat Studies Reader," which will be breathlessly reviewed in fat and unread journals. Fat people are victims of prejudice, and are oppressed by mainstream society. They should be destigmatized, and so forth. You get the large picture, do you not? This explains (according to a professor) why Queen Anne has gotten so little attention, don’t you see. There is plenty more about the social construction of obesity, and even a dissertation "on the intersection of queer and fat identities in the United States in the 20th century". I cannot begin to recount all of it. It all seems so serious, so important, that after these past few happy days, I would just prefer not talking about Falstaff with such severity. I prefer to think of him as sweating and larding the lean earth as he walks along. I was almost depressed by the idea of Fat Studies until I remembered that having more flesh than another man, and therefore more frailty, may make you more interesting, perhaps even an object of study. So finally, I will become an object of study, thought I. That could fun. We could talk about size acceptance, for example. Or why the wicked should be helped if sack and sugar be a fault! And then I thought about spending time with a sociology professor who represents the best work put out by the Popular Culture Association. Just couldn’t do it, I decided. I’ll just stick to thinking about plump Jack being the cause that wit is in other men.

In any case, it is almost certainly the case--unless those who study fatness be thin--that for the fat professor of Fat Studies, "The grave doth gape/For thee thrice wider than for other men."

Discussions - 6 Comments

Peter, a comical-dialectical musing worthy of Falstaff himself.

Paul: Thanks for your kind note. On the one hand these attempts by the thoughtless seem very funny...I mean really, Fat Studies? Well, hello there, nice to meet you. I am a professor of fat studies, what do you teach? On the other hand, it is actually deeply embarrasing. These are colleagues, we are supposed to have some fundamental things in common with them. I guess we don’t.

Isn’t "Fat Studies" a slender thread for research?

Then again, my second choice for college major in my undergrad years was Women’s Studies. I found it boring and never thought it had a future, as who could take it seriously? Look at it now.

The Popular Culture Association - isn’t that David Horowitz’s group??

Well, I love the idea of Fat Studies an an interdisciplinary major. It’s a natural ally with women’s studies in its opposition to the anorexic media images. It would also allow you to talk up sensible, generally optimistic, and very long living fat men like Hobbes, Churchill, and Chesterton. At the same time Lincoln’s inability to gain, combined with his melancholy, would make him quite questionable. Students could pad themselves and go out into the community and do studies on their experiences of the oppression felt by the hefty: I smell best-seller--FAT LIKE ME.

Ok, I could talk up sensible, generally optimistic, and very long living fat men like Hobbes, Churchill, and Chesterton. as I am positively disposed to the type. I can hardly wait to see how the physiques of these aforementioned men affected their psyches. Surely, we can look forward to works of great weight and gravity on the subject. Yet, it might devolve to things like the calendars Steve Hayward is hawking elsewhere on the blog.

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