The Too Fat Polka

Back in 1947, Arthur Godfrey had a hit record called the "Too Fat Polka". It had lyrics such as, "I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me...". The record had a good hand-clapping beat, and sold 3 1/2 million copies. Arthur could never understand why it was a hit, he would have preferred to have made a record with a slightly deeper sentiment, but, that's the way the record business goes!

Perhaps the record was a hit because it reflected what many men feel. In some of my profiles on AOL, when the question was asked, "What are your dislikes?" I put down, (among a few other things) "overweight women". Now, I don't really "hate" or "dislike" overweight women, I'm just not attracted to most of them. In one survey that I read, 90 percent of men don't like women who are overweight, and 10 percent do. Anyway, an overweight woman who saw one of my profiles on AOL was not amused at all by my position. She wrote back and told me so. And, a rather lively debate followed! Most debates on anything tend not to be truly "logical". Most debates don't end up with both parties in full agreement. Two parties rave and rant about their own positions, with neither party listening much to each other. This debate is certainly no exception!! But, some good points were brought out by both sides, and it's on a fairly intellectual level. And so, I'm reprinting this for your entertainment only. If you've ever had a problem of being overweight yourself, you might have some strong feelings about it, and you'll enjoy the interchange! I'm reprinting it exactly as the debate went, only changing some names to protect the overly endowed!
My Position: "If overweight women want a social life, they should lose weight."
Big Bertha's position: "Big can be beautiful. Don't limit yourself."

I am very smart, honest and don't have any tattoos. I am also a fat woman. So why don"t you like me? You have never even met me. Is there a word to describe people who don't like others whom they have never met?

Ok, ya got me. True, I did say that I hated fat women, but, I plan to redo my profile! Yep, I'm sure there's names for people like me!!

I'm glad you're smart. Since I'm in Mensa, I happen to like smart women! That's a very dogmatic statement that I made, but the profiles don't allow for much elaboration. It might be more accurate for me to say that I don't find grossly overweight women physically attractive, but, there's a lot of variables as to where the fat is on a woman, and how fat she is. Many of us men put high priority on a woman's physical appearance when it comes to looking for women. I'm not saying it's right or fair, I'm just saying that's the way it is. And so if your social life is lacking, your best bet is to work around the situation, i.e., tone up the ol' bod. But, anyway, thanks for your letter, and feel free to write back and banter with me about it!

I used to be a member of Mensa a few of years ago.
Sorry for the rather snotty E-mail I sent you. I get disturbed when I see blatant examples of anti-fat prejudice in print. If a person stated in his/her profile that he hated black people or handicapped people what do you think the response would be. It seems like fat people are the last acceptable target for outright hatred and discrimination. Those who argue that fat people merely need to diet and exercise more to be "normal" are being very naive. Everyone knows that fat is considered to be unhealthy as well as ugly so there is plenty of motivation out there for people to lose weight. Diet schemes and exercise machines are a billion dollar a year industry. At the same time people have been shown be be eating less and eating less fatty foods. Along with this the rate of obesity is increasing year by year. My opinion is that the world would be a lot better off if people (women in particular) would quit worrying about losing weight, bless the body they were given and work on more serious problems.
Of course any person, male or female has a right to have and opinion on what body type they find aesthetically pleasing . Any person may choose to date or not to date anyone else based on any criteria they care to use. I just think that it is very limiting to dismiss and entire category of humanity based on one physical characteristic. No man will ever be required to have a physical relationship with a fat woman. (Unless, perhaps he is married to her) It is still possible to "like" someone without a physical relationhip. I am also convinced that although a person may initially be turned off by someone's physical characteristics, if they are open-minded they may come to desire a relationship with this person if they learn to appreciate them in other ways.

I'm certainly not denying that a heavy person has many other aspects of their personality that make for a good long lasting relationship. And, I'm not denying that a person who judges just by the cover may be a self-centered, bigoted, limiting, fool from a logical standpoint. Except people aren't creatures of logic. People are creatures of emotion. Packaging sells.

Let me use an analogy. Supposed you go to a used car lot to buy a car so that you can get to work. Your number one priority in choosing a car is to get one with a good motor that's gonna run for a long time. Right?? You want to know the condition of what's under the hood. But, as any car salesman can tell you, if a car has a lousy paint job, has some dents, and looks as though the previous owner didn't care about it, most customers aren't even going to bother to look under the hood, no matter how great the motor is. That car won't sell. That may not be logical, but, that's the way it is. Packaging sells. You'll never be able to convince the rest of the world differently. So, the solution? Spiff up your package! Unless you were born looking like Quasimoto or the hunchback of Notre Dame, almost anyone can look attractive to the opposite sex if they work at it, and that includes toning up the body to fit the so called "narrow-minded paradigms" that the opposite sex apparently incorporates in it's gene makeup!

By the way, a couple of years ago my doctor said my blood pressure was a bit on the high side, so, I have to take medication for it. I said, "What's the deal, doc, do I gotta take these pills for the rest of my life??" He said "Maybe not, if you exercise and diet". So, I took "walks", and watched my diet, and lost 25 pounds over the next 3 months. I got a lot of compliments from people on how much better I looked. And, granted, I know from experience that losing weight is not easy. There REALLY has to be motivation for a person to do it. But, it can be done. I'm assuming from your letters that you're not in the shape that you'd like to be, since you've seemed a bit defensive about the subject matter!

Big Bertha:
I don't really buy your analogy comparing choosing a friend (partner, mate?) and choosing a car. There is a lot more to a human being than there is to an automobile! Surely you don"t mean to imply that a human being is simply and object to be selected on the basis of whether or not it has a few dents or rust holes. Unfortunately many men objectify women in just this way and are ignorant of what they are doing. Do you select your male friends on the basis of the perfection of their appearance? Again, we all have the right to select friends and/or partners based on any criteria. In my opinion, anyone who would eliminate a person from consideration because of one characteristic, be it body size, skin color, handicapped status or anything else is limiting only himself.
I am glad for you that you found it relatively easy to lose 25 pounds when directed to do so by your physician. Unfortunately most people who are heavy are not able to do this very easily and this especially applies to women because of their different hormonal makeup. Often a woman will lose and regain the same 25 pounds over and over again despite strenuous exercise regimes and restrictive diets. Unfortunately when the weight is regained, another 5 to 10 pounds will be gained with it. The constant gaining and losing of weight may be relatively harmless from a physical standpoint, but causes emotional distress. Most women are obsessed with their weight. Often they find it relatively easy to control their weight when they are young, but increasingly difficult as they age. Their self-esteem suffers greatly as they gradually gain more weight. It doesn't seem to me that men suffer in this way (as much) . Men are prompted to lose weight more because of health reasons but don't really seem to suffer much in the self-esteem department if they gain weight as they get older. Women's self esteem seems to be much more connected to their physical appearance than is men's.
Personally, I am not at all dissatisfied with my body size . I am one of a very small minority of women in this country who is not obsessed with weight. I realize that there are many men who might find my body unattractive in some way, but I also realize that most women feel unattractive most of the time regardless of their actual shape and size. I also realize that at my age (45) , not too many women look like 20 year old beauty queens and I am no exception. I exercise regularly, eat moderately and have an extremely healthy body. I have not been treated by a physician for an illness in my entire life! Although many people would call me fat, the following are words that I would use to describe myself: large, strong, powerful and heavy. I do not feel at all defensive about my weight or size . If other people have a problem with my size, it is their problem not mine.
I agree with you that people(both men and women) are impressed by packaging. I feel that this is unfortunate and may be a special characteristic of our culture. We are constantly presented with images of beautiful people and are expected to strive toward a standard which can never be reached by anyone. So much energy is wasted in this direction that sometimes it almost seems like a conspiracy to keep women "in their place". Keep them occupied with trying to look beautiful and they won't bother you in other ways.

To hold a debate that is meaningful, It sometimes helps to agree on definitions and context, also to check facts relating to the situation. Once this is done, half of the problem is resolved! I'm assuming that you're overweight, and, I think you're not entirely comfortable with it, because if you were, the perceived "Don hates all fat people" inference would not have bothered you in the least. Another statement that I could make is that "I hate all stupid people", but I know that you wouldn't take umbrage at that at all, because you're not in that catagory. (actually, I don't hate stupid people, it would be more accurate to say that I don't like people who do stupid things as a result of false pride, but, that's another argument) Now, as to the facts. I don't really know what you look like, extra pounds look different on different people. For example, by height and weight charts, It might be proven that Dolly Parton is overweight. However, in her case I don't care, because the distribution of her fat are in places that I don't mind! Also, female bodybuilders (the type on American Gladiators) could be technically overweight, but I don't mind that either! (actually, I go nuts for females with muscular definition, but that's another argument also) I don't know if you have your picture posted somewhere on AOL, or if you have the equipment to zap me a .jpg or .gif of yourself, but I'd love to see what you look like, then I could give you a much more honest opinion of how you strike me!

Another thought. If you're healthy, happy, and your social life is thriving, then it makes no difference whether or not you're overweight. My opinion would mean nothing, and I would have no problem with that. BUT, I suspect your social life isn't exactly what it's supposed to be, and that's why you're defensive about your weight.

Now, of course, I literally don't "hate" fat women. That's a crude dogmatic statement by itself. But, let me put it into context. I'm a single guy. I have (like anybody else) a framework in my mind of the kind of female that I'd like to meet for a serious relationship of some kind. She should be smart, attractive, my religion, be nuts for guys like me, and single! When I go to, say, a singles party, and I walk into a room, let's say there's about 25 women there, I scan the room and make a quick visual judgement. In about 15 seconds time, I'll see 3 out of the 25 that I really want to talk to and find out more about. The rest pretty much turn invisible to my eyes. (fair or not, most male animals operate this way) For example, in scanning the women, if I see one that looks about 75 years old, I automatically eliminate her from contention. (granted, she may have a great lookin' daughter or grand daughter my age, but I'm not in a mood for scavenger hunt) If I see a women who doesn't bother about her appearance, I make an assumption that she's probably not too bright or interesting. Now, I've certainly been wrong many times in making judgements like that, but, in the interest of time, it's the best way I know how to make connections. A person who is overweight frequently is perceived as an older person, or a dumber person, or a sloppier person, or a person who doesn't care about appearance. Now I know I may be wrong on all counts, and in our society stereotyping is a no-no, and in some cases illegal. Except, it's there. We all stereotype. Nobody admits it, but we all do. My point is, you can't change the attitude of the world. BUT, you can change yourself to fit a good stereotype and be extremely successful!

Before I get too long winded (actually, it's too late for that) let me leave off with one more story. I have a Mensa cyberfriend that I met online who is about 80 pounds overweight. She's 46 years old, and although she used to be slim and beautiful, she currently has an older, matronly image because of her weight. She'd like to date me, but she also knows my opinion on the "weight" thing. She read your last reply, and here's HER response to your letter:

Heap Of Hertha:
I can't argue with her logic. She's right on with most of her comments. I think she's missing the point about your problem with fat people. I don't think you dislike fat people, you just don't find them aesthetically pleasing, and don't find them sexually attractive. I guess we all have that problem about something or another. For my part, I don't find men who are much shorter than me sexually attractive. I wouldn't feel comfortable dating them, because I'd feel self-conscious about being seen with a short man as a date. This parallels some of the same feelings you have towards chubby women. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't be interested in a friendship with a short man - even a midget! We may have much in common and enjoy visting, talking, sharing and companionship. Although my interest wouldn't initially be romantic, that doesn't mean that I could NEVER fall in love with a short man. However, since I don't initially see them as potential partners, and would not be likely to date one, the chances of me developing a romantic interest would be very slim. So, the same could apply to a lot of physical differences in people that don't diminish their worth as a person. For example, people tend to date within their own race. Some white women, for example, would never consider dating a black man. Some asian men would never date a white woman. Others would. So it gets back to personal preference, personal likes and dislikes, a purely subjective selection - not a judgement on the worth of the person in question.

Now, consider this possibility. You meet a woman who you don't initially find attractive sexually, but you like her as a friend. The friendship develops, you become accustomed to spending time with her, with sharing your joys and sorrows. As time goes by, you realize how much a part of your life she has become and that your friendship has developed into a deep and true love. You appreciate the difference she has made in your life, and the way her loving acceptance of you and your faults has given you the incentive to accept her the way she is.

Is that so far-fetched a scenario? And couldn't it be used in any situation where the person isn't initially attracted physically? For example, short people, ugly people, fat people and other ethnic types?

I know your answer to that argument, that a fat person is that way because they don't take pride in themselves, they don't take good care of their bodies. But, as this "fat" lady said, she exercises, eats right and is healthy. I'm also healthy, attractive, clean and well-groomed. All the logic in the world won't change your personal likes and dislikes - but for heaven's sakes, open your mind to the alternatives!!

This "devil's advocate" position doesn't mean that I'm going to abandon my quest for a leaner, healthier body!! Unlike the aforementioned fat lady, although I have yet to suffer health problems from my weight, I know that statistically it is only a matter of time before the extra weight becomes a health problem. And, as you have so often reminded me, men are more likely to be attracted to a trim person than a fat one. The day is soon coming when I'll be "in the market" again, and want to present as attractive of a package as I can!!

To continue on this fascinating discussion, click on She's Too Fat Page 2