fatso353

Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

I'd hate to give you the impression my mates are a pack of yobbo loudmouths because, they're not - honest - but, carrying on from yesterday's post about political correctness, I'd like to tell you another story involving my friends and the things they scream when drunk ...

Like yesterday's post, we were watching football, we were drinking beer and someone yelled at the TV screen, exhorting our team to "smash the fat c---" who played for the opposition.

Unlike yesterday's story involving race (where there were thankfully no Aborigines present to hear the shouted slur) this time there was an overweight person in the room.

He's a big guy, pretty reserved, and when the comment was made he was the only person to laugh. It was kind of high-pitched and sounded involuntary, like someone saying "ouch" when they hurt themself.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but for a moment I reckon this guy was hurt or, at best, made to feel painfully self-conscious. I'd never met him before, so it was just the vibe I got.

Now, if I made a check-list of all the things I want to do on a night out, none of them would be "hurt a friend or stranger".

I know all about self-loathing and it's something I can pretty much achieve without outside help. So, if I could have snatched those words out of the air and saved this bloke that moment of discomfort, I would have.

Fat people are an easy target - one I have previously taken aim at - but more because I find the idea of "fat acceptance" an unhealthy cop out.

That said, I find it extremely discomfiting to see or hear overweight people mocked or bullied, yet culturally it's still pretty much open season on the avoirdupois.

Last night, I was watching the terrific new Julia Louis-Dreyfus HBO series Veep, in which she plays the Vice President of the USA, Selina Meyers, and she's given an obesity taskforce to chair.

"The President knows how uncomfortable I am made by fat people," says Meyer to her chief-of-staff.

"You wanna know the secret to keeping weight off? Shut your f---ing pie-hole. How about that? It's not rocket science. I'm not a nutritionist, am I? But I do know one thing, you gotta put the corndog down, get up off your dead one, you gotta get moving."

"It's weakness, that's really all it is, it's about self control. You don't masturbate on the subway do you? You don't shit in the street? Of course not, because you've gotten a hold of yourself."

To which Meyer's chief-of-staff asks: "Have you ever had a weight-problem" and the Veep replies "Yeah, I have".

It's certainly not the funniest moment in the show, however, Veep is an equal-opportunity offender and says ridiculously offensive things about race, gender, disablility, sexual assault, animals - it doesn't seem to have a bottom line, which makes for great comedy.

However, it's a TV show, not reality and if you or I made off-colour jokes about race, gender, disablility or sexual assault in our workplaces, we'd probably be disciplined or, perhaps, lose our jobs.

But a fat joke? No one's getting sacked for a fat joke.

I know when I was overweight, it was partly the jibes I received from friends that spurred me to get fit again and lose 10kgs but, then, being fat was new to me, it wasn't something I associated with myself, so it was almost like they were mocking a stranger, not me.

With the guy I mentioned above, I have a feeling that being fat was something he was used to, yet at the same time, keenly selfconscious about. When he heard "fat", he heard "me", so when "fat" was mocked, so was he.

I know the bloke who yelled "fat c---" wouldn't have dreamed of hurting his mate, but it may well have ended up being the case.

It also made me realise, once again, that we all have the power to make the lives of those around us better or worse just with the words we choose to say.

Someone commented on yesterday's post, offering the quote, "a world without humiliation dignifies us all."

I like that.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.