Good Fat/Bad Fat

We are a world of good and bad. Black and white. Democrat and Republican. Our team and their team. There’s really no way around it; we deal in absolutes. While this is generally wrong and an unrefined way of thinking, it’s what we do. Indeed, the answer lies somewhere in between has been replaced by the answer lies with my personal set of beliefs. There’s no use in fighting it, the crusaders have won.

So I’m down. Let’s talk about good and evil. And let’s talk about fat. It’s a nutritional buzz at the moment – this “good fat” and “bad fat.” Bad fats, of course, being easier to identify than an orangutan on a cruise ship – anything of the saturated and trans variety, or the collective menu of the fast food industry (OMG. Did you SEEEEE Supersize Me?!?!?!? EEEEKKKK! Life CHANGED!!!!!). And the good fats are coming out of the woodwork – omega 3s, monosaturateds, and avocado.

But I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about people.

As a skinny, I’m generally not supposed to comment on the “other side.” It’s seen as bad taste – kind of a white/black thing going on. But screw it; this honky is voyaging into the unknown. And the unknown is fat people.

Simply put, fat people are just like the rest of us. They have feelings, dreams, ambitions…just slightly more mass. And, like the general population (and given the trend in American lifestyle, they are soon to be the general population), they come in two forms: good and bad.

Yes, when it comes to fat people, there is good fat and bad fat. Or, as I like to refer to it, “happy fat” and “bitter fat.”

Happy fat, of course, refers to the fat people we all love: Chris Farley (God rest his soul), John Goodman, most any black bassist, and the heavy girl from Bridesmaids. While obviously this is not an exhaustive list, it exemplifies the things we love in good fats – lightning wit, unbridled jolliness, and a generally sunny outlook on the world as a whole. Societally, we love happy/funny people, but we love happy/funny fat people even more. There’s just something about an overweight person that amplifies the positive qualities, and I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe the fact that their smiles look bigger or they always seem comfortable in any easy chair or restaurant booth. Either way, we love the jolly fats for what they are: the roly-poly pandas of the human race. Fat people have a much higher comedic ceiling than equally funny skinny people – think Farley and Horatio Sans vs. Adam Sandler and Jimmy Fallon. See my point? It’s no contest. And consequently, when funny fats lose the weight – and join the mundane ranks of the everyday comedian – it is a heartbreak on par with the day Princess Di died. Jonah Hill was once a solidly funny supporting fat actor – now he is just an awkward, rectangular being with no real value to society. Same with Joe Winch of Chisago Lakes High School – used to be an adorable, round, rosy-cheeked boy, then lost the weight, got a girlfriend, and began looking at the world with cynical eyes. It’s just not the same. I’m glad your blood pressure had dropped and you’re living a healthier lifestyle, but you no longer make me laugh. Can I interest you in some chicken wings?

Bitter fat, on the other hand, is the bane of my existence; it’s almost as if Hitler had gone into the child pornography business. While I personally adore fat people – it is a state I am unable to achieve and am therefore jealous of – the human race as a whole tends to…um…look down upon obesity. So it’s an uphill climb (if they can make it) from day one. And these bitter fats compound the negativity by being all pissed off about everything. I’m not going to name names here, but you know who I’m talking about – that kid in class that refuses to share his gum, that lady who hates Christmas out of spite, and the guy on the bus who intentionally takes up two seats. These people are incapable of humor or irony; they simply want to display their displeasure for the world in hopes that it infects others around them. They’re just the worst. This is the exact opposite of what they should be doing – the best course of action is clearly friendly diplomacy with the rest of the world. I mean…you’re fat. At least be nice. As the great philosopher Chris Rock once laid out, “for every pound you are overweight, you gotta read another book, because you’re gonna need to be way smarter than all those other motherfuckers.” Or something like that – quoting Chris Rock is a slippery endeavor.

Anyway, I’m not going to go as far as Chris and suggest habitual reading. But at least be cool. Be fun. Be with us. Say something moderately humorous, and add a sheepish smile afterwards; I guarantee it will make me – and most every other intelligent skinny person – love you. We want to love you; we want you to join the ranks of the jolly fat. Just give us a reason. Make me want to put my loving arm around you and proudly declare, “This is my fat friend.”

Bitter fat, there is a better way. Consider the works of Farley, Belushi, et al, and be inspired. The grass really is greener on the other side. And don’t worry, it tastes like Twinkies.

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Sam Neumann | sam@samneumann.com | Boulder, CO