I recently wrote a post on my other blog in support of Damienne Merlina, a self-described fat, one-armed comedian about whom another comic had done a series of jokes on a special aired by Comedy Central, making fun of her body size and the fact that she has one arm. I know, super classy right? It reminded me of a something that I meant to blog about here but hadn’t gotten around to yet.
My partner and I are big fans the show Last Comic Standing. Julianne surprised me by taking me to the live show earlier this year. It was, for the most part, really good. But there’s one joke that will stay with me. Rocky LaPorte was about half way through his set. He made an awkward segue to say that he had worked for a while in a sporting goods store. He said that a woman came in once, and that she was “kind of big,” and said she needed a sports bra. He responded to her by saying “Well, uh, what sport are you playing there chief?”
That’s it. The entire joke is that a “kind of big” woman wanted to buy a sports bra so she came to a store that sells them and asked an employee of that store for help.
And the audience cracked up. It was the biggest laugh that he got all night. Because a kind of big woman wanted to buy a sports bra.
Not only is it just the laziest comedy in the world, it heaps on to the hypocrisy of a culture that insists that fat people need to exercise (we don’t, of course, nobody is obligated to exercise) but then makes it unbelievably difficult to do so, and suggests that we should do it in our homes with the blinds drawn and wearing a toga fashioned from a sheet.
Still, even if we can find workout clothes in our size, there’s every chance that we’ll have to deal with a store clerk who is a complete tool when we try to buy them, if we can even get them in a brick and mortar store, often instead relegated to buying online and paying for shipping and return shipping for the stuff we don’t want or that doesn’t fit (and it’s difficult to tell when a size 6 woman is modeling clothes that are made for women three times or more her size.)
Then there are companies like Old Navy that have huge stores with sections for men, women, kids, even maternity, but only offer plus sizes online – which seems to say “we’ll take your fat money but we don’t want your fat ass in our stores.” Companies create advertising suggesting that we should be embarrassed and horrified at the idea that people might see us workout. Then of course there’s the street harassment and egg throwing.
We have to deal with the people who try to tell us what activities fat people are “allowed” to participate in (“You’re a runner? Shouldn’t you choose something with less impact?” or “You’re into Yoga? Shouldn’t you choose something with more cardio?”) Then the insistence that no matter what we might accomplish athletically we’ll never be “athletes” because they believe that being thin is a prerequisite. And on and on and on.
This is bullshit, obviously. Each of us gets to choose how we deal with this, of course, to me what’s important is to realize that – though it may become our problem – this is not our fault, and it shouldn’t be happening. Later in the show Rocky asked a random woman in the front row if she was a runner. I wish I could have been up there, I would have loved to be able to say “I was going to but when I tried to buy a sports bra the store clerk was a total ass!”
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