Embracing the Ridiculous and Rejecting Ridicule

Published June 9, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

This morning I woke up, opened Twitter on my phone before I even got out of bed, saw the photo I’m about to post for you below, and did a happy dance of glee in my bed while giggling like a school girl.

Original photo by Alana Landsberry, poster created by Brian Stuart.

You see it all started with an awful, awful post on Feministe that spewed fat hate in relation to the soft drink (soda) restrictions being implemented by the mayor of New York City.  Y’all know I’m not going to link to that article, cos I don’t give signal boosts to fat hate.  Anyway the comment thread was a complete fat hate free-for-all, and someone actually referred to soft drink as an “Agent of Obesity”.  Well a Twitter hashtag was born, thanks to Brian of Red No.3 – check it out at #AgentofObesity, it’s hilarious.  Being the Marvel fan that I am, it’s right up my alley.

Brian kicked off the whole Fatty Avengers thing by posting a great movie poster of himself, as Nick Fatty, Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y.  I was busy laughing at how brilliantly funny it was, and PING!  Into my head popped “The Incredible Bulk”.  I just HAD to have my own movie poster as The Incredible Bulk, and Brian so kindly obliged with his killer photoshopping skills.

Of course, since then, it has evolved into a whole meme, I’m sure Brian is inundated with requests to turn photos of fab fatties into Avengers style movie posters for Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y.  He has even come up with an acronym for O.B.E.S.I.T.Y and made a rather awesome logo, check it out:

Of course, anyone outside of the Fatosphere is probably scratching their head, completely mystified as to why a bunch of fat people would want to make plays on the word obesity, associate themselves with whales and come up with code-names that evoke a bunch of fat hate to the average punter.  But there is something deliciously subversive about taking ridiculous statements of fat hate and having fun with them, playing with puns and images to make up a whole silly meme of something that originated as a pretty vicious slur.

Plus taking the word “obesity” – which is a pathologisation of our lives, of our bodies and state of being – and turning it into something ridiculous is incredibly empowering.  Obesity is an offensive word, it implies we are diseased, sick, broken.  It implies that we need to be prevented, cured, eradicated.

We’re lucky in that Brian has some pretty mean photoshop skills and a wicked sense of humour, and does some fun stuff with the photos.

I’ve already had someone suggest that I was “hating myself” by choosing to be The Incredible Bulk.  Au contraire!  I chose that name/character for a very positive reason.  One because it has a great tongue-in-cheek fatty pun, but also because I totally identify with The Incredible Hulk.  I totally get that transformation with rage thing.  I totally understand his barely controlled anger at injustice.  Nothing makes the red mist form before my eyes more than fat hate.  And I’m proud of being able to channel that anger into fighting for justice, just like The Incredible Hulk does.  Plus smashing shit feels good, y’know?

Fat hate, even that which is supposedly out of “concern” for us, is all about making us feel bad about who we are, about the bodies we inhabit.  It is meant to make us shrink down and disappear, out of shame and embarrassment.  So it’s really important that we make fun of it.  Ridicule those statements/accusations and show them as the ludicrous concepts that they always are.  Lampooning oppressors is an important part of radical activism, and if we can empower ourselves as part of the process, even better.

Think of it like a Boggart from Harry Potter.  A Boggart is a creature that takes the shape of the thing that you fear most, to paralyse you with fear before it attacks you.  For so long, we have allowed ourselves be paralysed by fat hate, by obesity rhetoric.  Like a Boggart, the best way to fight it is to ridicule it.  So flourish your wand and shout “Riddikulus!”

But remember this – WE are allowed to laugh at obesity rhetoric, to pull it apart and make fun of it, using ourselves as the characters in that humour.  But nobody is allowed to humiliate, ridicule or make us feel bad because of our bodies, our weight, our appearance or our health.  I personally have a zero tolerance of fat hate/shaming from anyone in my life, no matter who they are.  Nobody gets to shame/hate on people for their bodies in my presence.  It’s not easy, and people will walk away from you, but you really are better off without them.

So, what would your Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y codename be?  What would your super-power be?

63 comments on “Embracing the Ridiculous and Rejecting Ridicule

  • I have no idea what my codename would be… but I love that image!!!! very, very, VERY cool!

  • I want to be Special Agent Sugar Fairy! I have a fluffy petticoat, tights & a wand, so I’m most of the way there. Just need a shirt- wish I had that sweet tooth shirt from Sick for Cute, that would just top it off. Love your photo! Bulk smash fat hate!

  • I don’t have a clue what my codename would be, but my alter ego has been Helga the Bitch Goddess for quite a while now. I channel her rage at the injustice we fat people face and that allows me to continue to live my life fat at the world (in fact, all the bullying and shaming just makes me more determined to live my life fat at the world/in the haters’ faces).

  • I think my code name would have to be Dr. Lardbottom. I’ll be back at the lab, coming up with all kinds of sneaky plans and devious devices to spread the fat love resistance style! Can I has a sing-along-blog, please?

  • Chub Rub.

    Physically, it’s because that is my real-life nemesis as I run. (I have Body Glide, y’all. It’s under control.)

    In terms of super powers, I admit that my capacity for rage is limited and confined to spaces that are safe for me. My capacity to be incessant in my commitment to facts and logic, however, is unparalleled. And to any kind of bigot — fat-haters included — there are few things more aggravating than a squeaky wheel who is: 1) supported by facts; 2) civil in tone; 3) not fucking going away. 😉

  • I’ve often nicknamed myself the destroyer of diets when I bring baked goods to social gatherings, and I always imagined a WWII-era military uniform to go with this persona, so I’ll call myself General Fatton.

    Also, I keep thinking about what O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. HQ would look like.

    • General Fatton is totally inspired.

      I think O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. HQ would be a big candy-coloured compound, with accessibility ramps, armless chairs and plenty of wardrobe space to start with.

  • Considering my penchant for baking, clearly I am Cake Woman, wielding the Rolling Pin of Justice.

    Why a rolling pin when you don’t use one in making cakes, usually? Well, to paraphrase the road manager of Spinal Tap, in the topsy-turvy world of FA activism, sometimes it’s useful to have a good, solid piece of wood in your hands.

    • Having decided that Cake Woman is a bit too pedestrian (although I am a lifelong one because NOBODY wants me in charge of half a ton of hurtling metal!), I am changing my name. I am now the Cooking Monster. Yep, still wielding the rolling pin. Still the same reason for it. But now I’m blue and furry!.. I guess.

  • I’m very clumsy, I have a tendency to stub my toes on furniture and scrape my hands when opening doors, so I would be Blunder Woman who would help the other agents of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. by accidentally bumping into the bad guys and knocking them over, thus foiling their evil plans

  • Captain Jackie Fatness—you can never kill me, despite giving me death sentences of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol and bad knees. I also have The Doctor at my side, who unlike most doctors, won’t prescribe fad diets or WLS, along with a group of Adipose Aliens ready to distract fat haters with their cuteness. (Hey, we need to have a Doctor Who character as an Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y)!

  • I’ve always been ZaftigWendy, the Fat Knitting Superhero. An artist friend drew me a great photo of me knitting my own cape as I swoop along! I’m also the model for the Zaftig Zephyr in Nicole/Theo Lorenz GREAT comic book “Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace!”

    I don’t get a penny for saying this, but if you don’t have a copy of “Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace” yet, you need to GET ONE!!

  • You are six kinds of awesome!

    And I’m so sorry that Feministe thread was so disgusting. I tried to explain the fat-hatred and classism going on there for a while but no one was bloody listening….

  • I love your agent portrait! Of course the Incredible Bulk should have a purple scarf and tights! Perfect!

    I have no idea what my agent codename would be. The only food/Marvel pun that’s coming to me right now is Agent Coleslaw, but that doesn’t evoke “awesome fatty” so much as “stuff that’s great when home-made, but questionable at restaurants.”

    My superpower would be immunity to mind control, honed by years as a non-dieter in a diet-positive world.

  • Help me O.B.E.S.I.T.Y Agents! I can’t come up with a name! I am a soprano with an embarrassing love of Wagner (and the appropriate voice to go with it), and I can totally play the stereotype of the fat operatic diva (and do, for fun, sometimes). My superpower is my voice, and also I can crush evil with my Bazooms of Doom. I would totally wear a helmet with horns. Something with Brunhilde in it? Fatterdammerung? Wide of the Valkyries? It’s not comeing to me. Help!

    • Since the phrase “It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings” is a reference to the scene at the end of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (when Brunhilde immolates herself, and the world of the Norse gods ends), how about just “Singing Fat Lady”?

      • I thought of another name: “Voluptous Valkyrie,” or “Voluminous Valkyrie.” You have the superpower of a valkyrie, i.e., you choose who wins battles. 🙂

  • I just had a conversation about this before reading this post! My moniker has always been Rebecca is Fabulous, so my superhero name would have to be”Her Machesty, Rebecca is Fatbulous”. Her Machesty for short, of course.

  • I am Womanatee, and my undulating bulk, often seen uncovered around the water, stuns body-shamers into just shutting up and not engaging because they can’t process that level of audacity. Yesterday my appearance in a purple bikini bottom made the local beach safe for women to bathe topless unharrassed by known agitators.

    (I’m in Ontario. Toplessness is legal for both genders, often criticized in women.)

  • I’m the “Chocolate Chieftess.” I carry a super-soaker with melted chocolate, which I squirt into the mouth of critical dieters. It causes the transformation of the soul, like what happens to the up-tight Comte at the end of the movie “Chocolat.”

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