Join 3,368 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I See Fat People!
September 23, 2003 10:37 PM   Subscribe

"A Kmart Exclusive! This Inflatable Costume from Pumpkin Time is sure to make you the comic hit at any Halloween Party. The cool and comfortable costume self inflates and requires 3 "AA" batteries (not included) to do so."
Other designs:
--You think your kids are scared of clowns now...
--Can Paul Prudhomme sue for this?
--Aarrgghh!! My eyes!!!
"So, Little Tommy, what do you want to go as for Halloween?" "I wanna be Jiminy Glick!"
...with 3 AA batteries. Now it's official: Kmart is doomed.
posted by wendell (40 comments total)

 
you, sir, are drunk. and so is kmart.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:42 PM on September 23, 2003


And they used to be such a classy retailer, too.
posted by dg at 10:42 PM on September 23, 2003


So, wendell, is that 3rd link the ballerina who was fired?
posted by Lynsey at 11:09 PM on September 23, 2003


Now that's what I call an anti-pregnancy device.

Batteries you say...so...these 'costumes'....they vibrate?
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 11:39 PM on September 23, 2003


is that 3rd link the ballerina who was fired?
I thought the fired ballerina was like "Gubernatorial candidate" Mary Carey, whose G-rated press kit claims that she "...had to give up ballet because she was simply too top-heavy." (And it's actually the 4th link, he nitpicked)

Batteries you say...so...these 'costumes'....they vibrate?
Last year, I almost bought one of those 8-foot inflated snowman Christmas decorations with the fan in them to keep them inflated... I just never considered wearing it to a party...

And, for the record, I am NOT a kmart.com affiliate. I'm not THAT shameless.
posted by wendell at 12:07 AM on September 24, 2003


That's great. Do they have an Oprah suit as well?
posted by sebas at 12:35 AM on September 24, 2003


Yes. Throughout the night the Oprah suit inflates, then deflates, then inflates...
posted by rusty at 12:55 AM on September 24, 2003


And so fat people entered the pantheon of personalities we mock on Halloween.

I swear the overweight a the new "acceptable to make fun of" minority.

Fundamentally, is there any difference between these 'costumes' and someone dressing up in blackface?
posted by Dagobert at 1:04 AM on September 24, 2003


I think it's been well established that MeFi doesn't do a good job of talking about fat. Rather than debating whether it is acceptable to make fun of the overweight, can't we simply agree that it is always amusing to make fun of K-mart? After all, it's not the first time they've made themselves such an easy target...
posted by Galvatron at 1:39 AM on September 24, 2003


> And so fat people entered the pantheon of personalities we mock on Halloween.


Old news. Big baby (Big fat guy in diaper) is a classic. Some people have a sense of humor about such things, others don't.

Abortions for some, tiny american flags for others.
posted by skallas at 2:18 AM on September 24, 2003


And so fat people entered the pantheon of personalities we mock on Halloween.

Yeah, the bulk of discount store shoppers are so svelte. K-Mart is trying to send a message that fat people's money is no good there. They're so sucessful that they're in a position to do that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:19 AM on September 24, 2003


Old news. Big baby (Big fat guy in diaper) is a classic. Some people have a sense of humor about such things, others don't.

Ya know, blackface was a classic at one time as well. Thankfully we got past that. Maybe some people don't see the humor in such things because there isn't any.
posted by whirlwind29 at 2:32 AM on September 24, 2003


Maybe some people don't see the humor in such things because there isn't any.

Or they're blind.

If another person likens these costumes to blackface, I'm going to post something which includes the term "self-inflicted" in order to blow this disabled thread off the tracks. This should have been a light discussion about a stupid consumer item. If you've got sensitivity issues about your weight, frigging save them for your support group or your mom or the cops who want to know about the hooker torsos in your crawlspace. And don't make shitty analogies that both demean the Civil Rights Movement and make you look mentally handicapped.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:12 AM on September 24, 2003


Blackface, oh please. Let's not go too crazy here. Weight does not equal race.

See Also: False analogy.
posted by skallas at 3:19 AM on September 24, 2003


That's 'differently abled' you insensitive lout!

I'm calling you out Sir! Sabres at dawn, select your second, fiend!
posted by Dagobert at 3:22 AM on September 24, 2003


This should have been a light discussion about a stupid consumer item.

A stupid consumer item that mocks the obese. Anyone who didn't think that would come up for discussion here is a fathead.
posted by rcade at 5:16 AM on September 24, 2003


Aarrghhh! My eyes!!
posted by troutfishing at 5:27 AM on September 24, 2003


> A stupid consumer item that mocks the obese.

Why do you assume the costumes are meant to be mocking? If a little girl dresses up as a princess, does that mock princesses? You've jumped to the conclusion that fat necessarily equals unattractive. How did you get so brainwashed? Get thee to a cultural re-education class toot sweet.
posted by jfuller at 5:50 AM on September 24, 2003


Anybody know where I can find a good (non-obese) astronaut costume?
posted by elvissinatra at 5:53 AM on September 24, 2003


elvissinatra

You can buy one on Ebay or make one yourself
posted by sebas at 6:01 AM on September 24, 2003


You know, I didn't even get the "inflatable = fat" thing, let alone that these were making fun of fat people. I guess I'm just not sensitive to issues of people of larded assedness.

And hey, are those pictures stretched horizontally? Seriously.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2003


(Score:5, Funny)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:14 AM on September 24, 2003


Outlawyr: yes, they are. What's up with that?
posted by signal at 6:38 AM on September 24, 2003


As far as America goes, the fat are not in the minority, or at least will soon not be.
posted by agregoli at 6:55 AM on September 24, 2003


Target has these, too, a pumpkin and an Elvis, if I remember correctly.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:10 AM on September 24, 2003


This costume, you say it *vibrates*?
posted by junkbox at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2003


Fundamentally, is there any difference between these 'costumes' and someone dressing up in blackface?

This is the most historically naive statement . . . in history. Details and context must be ignored, but if we squint real hard, staring through non-prescription glasses, in a dimly lit room, while spinning around in an office chair, we can make-out a faint resemblance between the two situations.

Also, what agregoli said.
posted by dgaicun at 8:29 AM on September 24, 2003


Let's take it a step further: making fun of fat people AND transgenders, all at once!
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:41 AM on September 24, 2003


You people need to be a little more sensitive to the morbidly obese. We're people with feelings, too!

Me? I'm going as a hobo. Fuck the homeless.
posted by ColdChef at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2003


Maybe it's just me, but fat or no, I generally find those that don't have the creativity to make their own costume, and instead just buy one at the store, to be bores.

(OF course, coming from the guy whose catch-all goofy costume is a Smurf sheet as a toga...)
posted by notsnot at 9:03 AM on September 24, 2003


A stupid consumer item that mocks the obese. Anyone who didn't think that would come up for discussion here is a fathead.

The ballerina had seen before, way back in a cartoon as a kid, yet it was a bear not a man.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:32 AM on September 24, 2003


Bah! After all the trouble I've gone through to LOSE weight, I'm certainly not going to dress up as my before pictures for Halloween.

Although the inflatable pumpkin is kind of cute.

Still, my Halloween costumes must allow for comfortable drinking, and be able to withstand the extreme results of hours of comfortable drinking, and I just imagine that five minutes into any good Halloween party my inflatable pumpkin would have a cigarette burn hole in it and not be inflatable OR fun anymore. Unless it vibrates. Then it might still be fun.

(And besides, isn't general offensiveness kind of part and parcel of adult Halloween costumes anyway? People dress up as serial killers, Monica Lewinsky, pedophile priests, ejaculating cocks, charicatures of elected officials, giant tampons... I don't think Halloween is a resonable venue for taking a stance against the mockery of the dangerously overweight.)
posted by jennyb at 9:40 AM on September 24, 2003


Jennyb, you're crazy! I just lost 93 lbs and I can't wait to dress up as my "before" pictures for halloween. That is the funniest costume of all time!
posted by palegirl at 9:50 AM on September 24, 2003


Derailment! Look out!

Aces, palegirl! That's a lot of weight. Wow. Congratulations!
posted by jennyb at 10:28 AM on September 24, 2003


Let's take it a step further: making fun of fat people AND transgenders, all at once!
I'd expect a serious on-line Halloween Store to be E.I. (Everything Incorrect), so no big whoop there. But did everybody also notice the cross-gender thing going on at Kmart? The ballerina and bar maid are worn by male models, the chef and clown by female...

I can better visualize "fat suit" costumes being sold at Target, where "extended sizes" for mens' pants start at a 44 waist and end at a 46. But here's Kmart, ridiculing a significent percentage of their clientelle... That's why I declared: "Kmart is doomed".

I think it's been well established that MeFi doesn't do a good job of talking about fat.
I usually avoid MeFi fat discussions like I avoid potholes, coughing people and the chili Weinershnitzel puts on its hot dogs, and I know I took a big fat risk in posting this, but I think you've handled this topic better than usual (some of you must have had embarassing 'swimsuit seasons' this year... and I'm talking to the guys). I was hoping for more hilarity to ensue from the costumes' battery-operated built-in inflating fan (yeah, I'd like to fall over and land some part of my body on THAT). But, thanks to trakbacks, I've now discovered Paul McAleer's Big Fat Blog, which I can add to my long list of otherwise-good sites where they don't like MetaFilter...
posted by wendell at 9:01 PM on September 24, 2003


jfuller: Why do you assume the costumes are meant to be mocking?

"A Kmart Exclusive! This Inflatable Costume from Pumpkin Time is sure to make you the comic hit at any Halloween Party. "

Doesn't sound like a respectful tribute to me. I can live with that, though. I'm more creeped out by this:

"Aarrgghh! My eyes!"

"Now that's what I call an anti-pregnancy device."

I'm a nothing-is-off-limits-to-humor kind of guy. Three cheers for Lenny Bruce. Dress up as whatever you like. Don't these comments sound kind of icky, though? They're basically saying, "Fat people are awful to look at, untouchable, a joke, etc." I love offensive humor when it's clever or insightful or subversive. I don't see any of that here.

Would I get upset about seeing someone dressed up like a fat person for Halloween? Nah, not really, and much less so if the costume is clever in some way (more clever than "Isn't it hilarious that a fat woman would have the gall to wear a bathing suit"). Mostly I'd just think they look silly for thinking they're being funny when they're not.

But if you look at fat people and say, "Aarrgghh! My eyes!", then I think you've got a strange phobia there, and it's a lame message to send. What's up with that?

I think it's been well established that MeFi doesn't do a good job of talking about fat.

I'm trying to figure out why this is the case. In a few threads (including this one) I've seen one or two people pipe up and say, "You know, you're really treating fat people badly here". Sometimes they're a bit snarky, but not usually over the top, I don't think. The response they get shocks me on occasion, though (i.e. Mayor Curley's eruption above, which thankfully stands alone as an example in this particular thread). It's not just that some folks have lots of irrational negative feelings about fat people; it's that they feel so completely justified in feeling that way, and they're shocked to see it questioned.

Then comes the predictable chorus of explanations that people are fat by choice (an unsophisticated and only half-correct position, but let's grant it for the sake of argument), and the odd non-sequitur that they therefore deserve to be treated badly for it (as if deserving abuse were logically implied by body size, or even by 100% intentional immense fatness for that matter), and the odd assumption that bigotry is ok as long as membership in the targeted group is voluntary, and the use of health as a red herring (as if unhealthiness has anything to do with deserving abuse). And more tangible disgust that seems completely inordinate given the mostly timid protests that usually get the ball rolling (hamhanded comparisons with racism notwithstanding).

Then the fuck you's start rolling in from the other side and we're lost.

My hunch is that our troubles with this issue result partly from there being a healthy minority of people here on MeFi that have frankly negative attitudes about fat. I don't think there's a way around that. And they're especially set off by people who question their attitudes when those people miss the mark by making sloppy comparisons with other -isms, by under-estimating the role that behavior plays in determining body size, by coming off as humorless or uptight, etc.

I also think it's common to try to avoid uncomfortable feelings of empathy for other people by looking for a way (even a small way will do) to blame people for their own suffering. If we can find a way to say, "A ha, you're suffering from X because you did Y", it's as if that excuses us from feeling empathy for them, and it affords us the comfortable illusion that we're able to avoid suffering ourselves by not being as foolish as others are. So, if being fat is in any way due to your behavior, then you could have avoided being a target of this abuse, and all that's needed is a little logical leap over the question of why size merits abuse in the first place, and voila, no need to feel any uncomfortable empathy when people are treated badly.

Some people, of course, make the opposite error: They're completely unable to recognize personal responsibility because they're so overwhelmed with empathy that they can't bear to stop and examine what people could do differently to avoid suffering; it would just seem too hurtful to ask that question of someone who is in pain, even if that question is something they would greatly benefit from hearing. This isn't so pertinent when fat people are simply being called ugly, but we've seen a bit of this when other size-related issues have been discussed.

Mix people of these two types together and flamewar conditions are extremely favorable, not only because they have different blind spots, but also because each has spent time watching the other make their respective mistakes and they have some pent-up hostility to vent on this issue itself, which makes them more likely to project those mistakes onto other people even when others aren't making them.

Finally, we all carry around prejudices of various kinds, yet we live in a culture that has come to view the holding of a prejudice as a truly awful thing. So, when someone accuses us of an -ism of some kind, it's as if they're calling us the worst imaginable kind of monster, when really we're just being dumb humans like everyone else. Our defenses go up immediately, we strike back hard, doing anything we can to avoid seeing ourselves that way or to avoid being embarrassed socially. What makes matters worse is that -isms (rightfully) make a lot of us really angry, and when we see people exhibiting them, or think we see someone exhibiting them (it's easy to see what you want to see when you're angry), all that pent-up anger finally has a target, we completely dehumanize the person we're observing, and we respond in ways perfectly suited to setting off the defensive reaction I've described above.

Welcome to the MetaFilter forum on fat, brought to you by all of the above. (I'm clearly on one side of this issue rather than the other, so please forgive whatever bias you might find in my account.)

Anyway, maybe there's a way to counter this fat=ugly or fat=deserving-of-bad-treatment stuff without giving off a sanctimonious Lifetime Television vibe. Righteous indignation doesn't seem to work so well here. More tact? More humor? A lighter tone? Countering negative crap by being positive? (Some people do this quite nicely already; I'm trying to get better at it myself.) I'd hate to think that avoiding the issue is our only option.

Any ideas?
posted by boredomjockey at 11:58 PM on September 24, 2003


Wow, boredomjockey, awesome post. You've clearly thought about this a lot.

That said, I don't know if there is a way to counter the issues some people have with fat people - as you said, those who feel fine about saying bigoted, hurtful things, feel justified about it, and there's not much anyone can do to change their minds. In many ways, it is the last bastion of socially-acceptable bigotry, and while I agree that comparisons to the civil rights movement can often be hyperbolic and inaccurate, there's also a grain of truth to that argument. Fat people bring out the latent bully in many people.
posted by biscotti at 12:36 AM on September 25, 2003


boredomjockey - a healthy minority of people here on MeFi that have frankly negative attitudes about fat.

Do you mean to imply that having a negative assessment of excessive fat is itself a negative thing? If so, I'd like you to explain what is negative about making a negative assessment of excessive fat.
posted by NortonDC at 9:50 AM on September 25, 2003


NortonDC: I meant negative attitudes about fat people. I should have been more precise.
posted by boredomjockey at 9:16 PM on September 25, 2003


Boredomjockey, you are my brand new hero.
posted by hot soup girl at 11:56 PM on September 26, 2003


« Older An Elevator to the Stars....  |  In her autobiography, "Living ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments