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Monica Parker Headshot

Fat Is Coming Out of the Closet

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It wasn't so long ago that the mere whisper of the word "fat" would have people looking down at their shoes or plugging their ears in avoidance. All the other vivid and somewhat old-fashioned descriptors were somehow acceptable: overweight, obese, heavyset, porcine, pudgy, rotund, plump, chunky, tubby, portly, lumpy, big-boned, stout and even corpulent. But that little three-letter word "FAT" scared the bejesus out of almost everyone, especially the bearer, and so remained locked in the vault as if it had hairy bat wings and knife-edged horns.

But the cheap jokes kept on coming. They were allowable long past their expiration date because the delivery method was humor. These jokes, no matter how truly crass and cruel, mostly emanated from the mouths of clueless Borscht-Belt comics who never got the memo that their material was seriously passé and spiked with unacceptable body racism. And if overheard, should get one banned or beget a time-out for bad behavior.

We all acknowledge that rape jokes are not funny; boob jokes are in bad taste and cheap shots at blondes, hookers and pole dancers have been relegated to the dust heap of a bygone era. Rodney Dangerfield died 10 years ago, but it took a little longer for his repertoire of "My wife is so fat that when she sits around the house, she SITS AROUND THE HOUSE!" jokes along with some even cruder to have finally been sent packing. They aren't funny. I love funny and am always up for a good joke -- as long as it doesn't embarrass or humiliate.

I am fat and however I couch it (which, by the way, is a crappy metaphor, as it serves to conjure up the image of a soft, misshapen and large piece of furniture -- I am not misshapen, but I am soft), like many women today, I'm doing all that I can to make body-shaming reflect poorly on those who feel the need to demean, bully and belittle. Women of all sizes are streaming out of those closets, determined to take their place at whatever size they are. These days, social media is shaping the shape of all of us. Curvy is the current favorite tag covering every body in the plus-size spectrum. Fat has come out of the closet: it's everywhere and that isn't intended as a joke. Women are demanding respect. But it's an ongoing battle to change the mouths and minds of those who don't get that these jokes are DOA.

But as we stand fully-figured and proud, the same can still not be said for those who are truly skinny, which I find interesting, as skinny is the holy grail of so many. Fat is often derided and made fun of whereas "too skinny" just elicits sadness. Neither is the ideal, but the ideal is not what the corporate shysters are selling, either. They are focused on the profitable unattainable -- a Photo-shopped fantasy. We should just be celebrated for our differences. Body judgment needs to take a holiday. We are as varied as a beautiful box of chocolates -- all shapes, colors, and sizes. And what good is a box of chocolates hiding in the closet?