I’m late to the party but a couple of news items popped up this week that had to do with being fat, neither of them in favor of it. First was word that Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, doesn’t want to market to fat women because they’re not “cool kids”. Fat men are OK because they’re probably athletes, which is apparently the epitome of cool. Then, I heard that New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, secretly underwent lap band surgery in February.
It sounds like we’re back in high school, folks. However, as much as he wants to believe otherwise, Mike Jeffries is still hanging out with the wrong crowd. Most of the cool people I know are the biggest and proudest fat people who live with more joy and exuberance than a lot of those pouty A&F models have ever displayed.
I considered Governor Christie one of those cool people. No matter how many times the media poked fun at his girth, he came out swinging. I defended him time and time again in conversations with “well meaning” people like a co-worker who was sure “he’ll keel over any day from the strain all that weight is putting on his heart”. I was especially thrilled when he told former White House physician, Connie Mariano, to shut the fuck up (my words, not his) when she said he’d likely die in office if elected president. He also told David Letterman, “I’m basically the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen in your life”. What he didn’t say was that, at the time, he was scheduled for a procedure that’s supposed to make him a healthy skinny guy. It’s like the bully finally got him to hand over all his lunch money.
Let me clarify. Governor Christie can do whatever the hell he wants with his body and I expect the same courtesy when it comes to my body. What makes me sad is the thought that, despite assurances he’s “doing it for his health” (what else is he going to say?) the real reason is he decided the only way to assure a future in politics is to become one of the A&F “cool kids” and make everyone shut the fuck up for good because he got tired of fighting them off. If that’s true, it only gives more power to bullies like Jeffries and whoever thought it hysterical to include the words “Thick and Thin” over a picture of Christie with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy or “Fat Chance” when writing about his possible nomination to the Vice Presidency.
To protest Jeffries’ fat phobic rant, a few people have suggested buying A&F clothes in the biggest size available for women, putting them on (even if they look like, as one put it, “10 pounds of sausage in a 5 pound casing”) and mailing pictures of the results to Mr. Jeffries. Here’s my take… if he wants to ignore a growing market (no pun intended), it’s his business and his choice. Men like him won’t listen to reason but they will pay attention to profits or the lack of them. And we need to hit them where they will pay attention. Let Jeffries know we don’t want his clothes anyway and encourage those who can fit into his sizes to boycott A&F. Because if seemingly thick skinned guys, like Christie, can potentially buckle under pressure of not being one of the “cool kids” then what about the impressionable ones who have a problem loving the image in the mirror? I, for one, will do my best to make sure they know that the fat folks table is the one of the absolute coolest in the cafeteria.