Following on the coattails of the very recent Glee/GQ uproar is criticism of Mike & Molly, a sitcom stuffed with fat jokes and flavored with lovable hi-jinks made funnier by the characters’ portliness.

I remember when fat jokes were offensive. Actually, I believe they still are–in the real world. But, conversely, on television, fat jokes are just another way to get a laugh, lighten a situation or make a character appear more likeable (think: Barney on How I Met Your Mother). Never mind what would happen in real life if one were to regularly chide his workmate about his fear of his partner falling on him and smothering him to death or if a mother constantly referenced her daughter’s big-bonedness as she feeds her more food. Because, by now, her fat daughter must have come to grips with her size.

I guess then that fat jokes are okay as long as they are told by the overweight people themselves or by their loved ones.

Perhaps we’re supposed to feel proud of these characters–that they’re able to accept and seemingly embrace their rotundness. With no outside appearance of embarrassment or shame. Just, maybe, an eating disorder, skewed body image and lifelong health problems. It’s okay, honey. Have another Twinkie.

We’re expected to rejoice in their triumph of self-esteem in a society that worships toothpick-sized models and ripped weight lifters.

But I personally cannot rejoice in a character’s ability to see past her weight. Her extra poundage is not something she was born with, like freckles, curly hair or big feet. Albeit, she may have a hereditary tendency toward obesity or heaviness, but she is not forced into obesity against her will, like a slave sold into slavery. No, obesity usually begins inchoately, maybe with an extra dessert every night, flowering over the years into a debilitating health issue that is either accepted or fought against on a daily basis.

Instead, overweight people are told that it’s okay. That there’s nothing wrong with how they look. (Which, there isn’t, if it weren’t killing them.) No judgments. Just acceptance. That is, unless you count the blogs about how fat people make skinny people feel nauseous. But as many people as there are like that in the world, there are plenty more who are eager to praise them for their ability to be extra-sized in a society of under-eaters.

One less person to fight them for the last size 8 dress.

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