That the world is run by fat guys is no secret (more on this later), yet Americans devote a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to losing weight without ever stopping to consider the advantages of obesity. And the advantages are many -- not least of which is that you can eat whatever you want.
I'm a fat guy -- always have been. I'm not "big-boned" (surprise, there's no such thing), I don't "carry it well," and I'm neither "husky" nor "just a little heavy." There's nothing wrong with any of my glands. I'm not a victim in any way. I'm a fat guy because I eat too much. If I ate less, I'd lose weight. But I don't, because I love food (and I even eat food I don't love, because I love the mere act of eating). I'm a fat guy, as in I could lose 50 pounds and still be fat, as in I'm 5-foot-10 and 250 very apparent pounds (plus or minus 10 pounds depending on what I ate that day). I'm a fat guy, and I'm not alone.
According to a study published in the May 29, 1998, issue of Science, 54 percent of American adults (and 25 percent of children) are overweight (and that figure is likely skewed downwards by all the people who crash-diet the week before their annual physicals because they know they're going to get weighed). We, the fat, are the rapidly expanding majority. (The fat population has grown by 33 percent since 1978.) It is the thin who are abnormal.
I enjoy being a fat guy, although I must confess I wouldn't want to be a fat girl. The societal deck really is stacked against them (unfairly, I might add, because fat girls are in many ways superior to skinny ones). But being a fat guy is great. I've never felt that my weight kept me from getting a job or a girl, or from gaining admittance to a club. And it has many, many advantages.
Fat guys are strong. Ask any bar owner who hires bouncers, or anybody who gets in a lot of fights, or any high school wrestler. They'll all tell you the same thing: Don't fuck with fat guys.
Despite the propaganda of 10,000 suburban strip-mall tae kwon do "academies" and health-club self-defense classes, the simple truth is that victory in a fight is largely a matter of inertia. "The 300-pound tub-of-lard beats the 165-pound musclehead every time," says Navy Lt. Jonathan Shapiro, my brother-in-law and all-around physically fit tough-guy, who spends much of his life recovering from various exercise-related injuries. "Fat guys kick ass."
In competitive wrestling, if one guy outweighs another by a few pounds, they put him in a different weight class -- the match wouldn't even be fun. Every fat guy is inherently strong, but the ultimate weapon is the fat guy who knows how to fight (aka the sumo wrestler).
Fat guys aren't as slow as you think, either. I don't have time to explain all of Newtonian physics to you, but remember that a body in motion tends to remain in motion. Fat guys may have trouble turning on a dime, but they can move in one direction with great alacrity and effectiveness, as demonstrated repeatedly in every NFL game.
Still, the fat guy is essentially a peaceful creature. War is for the thin. Fighting requires effort, and minimum effort is the mantra of the fat guy. Efficiency and economy of movement are the fat guy's greatest allies. The thin think nothing of bounding up four flights of stairs, running to catch a bus or invading a Caribbean nation, but fat guys plan their days around avoiding these very situations.
But they don't avoid dating. Dating is eating. Nearly every date centers around a meal, and fat guys are far and away the best dining companions. They are uninhibited eaters, they know all the best restaurants and they know how to cook. Therefore, fat guys are the best dates.
The thin choose restaurants based on ambience; fat guys choose restaurants because the food is good. The thin may know how to operate a grill (badly) and make breakfast (badly), but every fat guy intuitively knows how to truss a capon, bake a wedding cake and roast a whole hog.
The fat guy's love life is inextricably linked to his love of food. For the fat guy, food and sex are two points on a continuum. No fat guy would ever dream of making a move on a girl without first feeding her a nice meal -- it's just not done. And when you're out with a fat guy you don't have to worry about looking like a pig. You can eat whatever you want, because nothing makes a fat guy hornier than a girl who can devour a big steak (although fat guys also appreciate skinny girls because they represent leftovers). As an aside, fat guys can hold their liquor. This is a simple biological fact. Remember those charts they show you in driver's ed? How much you can drink is a direct function of how much you weigh.
And who better to bring home to mom than a fat guy? Mothers, especially immigrant mothers who speak little English and have yet to be co-opted by American neuroses, love men who can eat. They (correctly) equate eating prowess with intellect and potential for success.
The fat guy wages a stealthy seduction. The woman sees the fat guy as a confidant. She thinks the relationship is platonic. Eventually, she marries the fat guy. Sound familiar?
When it comes to sexual prowess, women in the know prefer fat guys because fat guys are better in bed. The thin and the fit like to demonstrate their manliness by getting on top and banging away, but no fat guy in his right mind would do the equivalent of 100 pushups when he has the opportunity to lie on his back. Plus, do you know what the odds are of a girl getting off in the missionary position? If I have to tell you, you're obviously not a fat guy. But do you know what the odds are of a girl getting off when she's on top? Pretty damn good. And with minimal effort (i.e., reach down and help out with your fingers), you can make that a virtual lock (if that doesn't work, it's her problem -- not yours). For every hard-bodied two-pump-chump out there, there's a fat guy ready to lie back and provide an erect instrument for as long as need be.
Fat guys are particularly well-suited to being passive sex partners for fit-and-trim athletic girls who have the stamina to ride all night. You've seen the couples; now you know why. If you want a man who will make the earth move, a fat guy is still your best candidate (see inertia and Newtonian physics, above). Remember when Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze had a dancing contest on "Saturday Night Live"? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.
The best thing is that fat guys sincerely appreciate women who deign to sleep with them, because every fat guy harbors the deep-seated fear that he's unattractive. And really, what many women want (more so even than great sex) is to be appreciated. Fat guys are particularly appreciative of fellatio, because it's the ultimate in minimum-effort sex, even less strenuous than masturbation. And fat guys are themselves masters of oral sex, because their mouths are so agile and in such good shape from all that eating (and because all they think about is sex, food and maybe Seven of Nine on "Star Trek: Voyager").
There was a time in history when, to get respect, you had to be fat. It meant you were affluent. It meant you were healthy. Now it's all twisted around: You can never be too thin or too rich, they say. But while it's possible nowadays for anybody on food stamps to maintain an impressive body weight by eating potato chips and Entenmann's chocolate doughnuts, the fat-as-healthy stereotype is making a comeback -- at least in the gay community -- and it's only a matter of time before straight people catch on.
It's simple: As my friend David, they gayest guy I know, put it to me, "Everybody knows fat guys don't have AIDS. In the gay community, fat is in."
I pity the thin. They spend their lives fighting the inevitable weight gains that come with age, butting heads with their chubby destinies. When they finally get fat, which they all do, they become inconsolable. Their spouses and partners, terrified by this harbinger of what is to come for them, are likely to up and leave. The formerly thin die miserable and alone, raging against the injustice that has befallen them.
The lifelong fat guy experiences no such problems. He's a rock, a source of stability for all around him. He was fat as a child and remains fat. He looks no worse in middle age than at age 20, and therefore his lifetime of fatness keeps him looking young (plus, it is well-known in the dermatological community that fat equals fewer wrinkles).
I was a fat kid, and I took some flak for it. But now, as I enter my 30s, all my formerly svelte friends are getting fat -- and I'm having the last laugh. As my long-lost friend Andy said to me 10 years after we graduated from high school, "You guys who were fat in high school are the only happy people at the high school reunion -- we've all gotten fatter; you look the same."
Now, I'm enjoying my life, whereas my slowly ballooning friends are consumed by the battle against fat. They climb pretend stairs, "spin" on pretend bicycles and run for dear life on treadmills. They deprive themselves of bodily pleasure, engage in self-indulgent and self-righteous fad dieting (no meat one month; no carbohydrates the next) and are otherwise miserable companions. They are particularly insufferable at the dinner table, because they are driven by an irresistible impulse to deliver a running commentary on the nutritional and medical ramifications of every bite they (and I) eat.
Yet, self righteous though they may be, the joke's on them. Thinness is an unattainable goal. We've all seen the charts and tables -- you know, the ones that say the "ideal weight" for a 5-foot-7 man is 138 pounds. Maybe that's what people weigh in television fantasyland, but, according to Kathryn Putnam Yarborough, a therapist at the Center for Eating Disorders at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md., "Less than 5 percent of the population, healthfully and genetically, can expect to achieve the shapes and sizes the media portrays as ideal. The media holds this unrealistic goal up to us and suggests that we try to reach it. No wonder so many men and women are struggling with body-image dissatisfaction."
I have a seemingly convincing excuse for being fat: I'm a restaurant reviewer. I'm supposed to be fat. But being fat requires no excuses and, truth be told, most restaurant reviewers are skinny -- which perhaps accounts in part for the current sorry state of the food press. Never trust a skinny chef, even less a skinny restaurant reviewer. Would you believe it has now become commonplace for restaurant reviewers to negotiate gym memberships as part of their employment agreements? It's a latter-day myth of Sisyphus.
Speaking of myths, Western culture's belief that thin is better is a rejection not only of common sense but also of basic human instinct. Children and animals (the most anthropologically pure subjects available) love fat guys. Watch the baby's face light up when it sees a fat guy. Watch the dog beg for a fat guy's attention. They understand.
Non-Western cultures, which invariably have less emotional baggage than ours, revere fat guys. The fat Buddha is worshiped the world over. Only in self-flagellatory Western religions are our idols so anorexic. Look how skinny Jesus was. Look what happened to him.
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But, you say, being fat is unhealthy.
The thin see this as the trump card in any discussion of weight. But even if the statistics are true, even if being fat is unhealthy, can we really do anything about it? Despite the $33 billion a year that Americans spend on weight-loss programs, the Federal Trade Commission reports that 95 percent of the 50 million Americans who will go on diets this year will fail. Even better, according to the Center for Eating Disorders, "33-50 percent of these people gain to a higher weight," which means we're talking about a serious waste of money.
Although near-constant attention is paid to the health risks of being fat (the National Institutes of Health says that "someone who is 40 percent overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as an average-weight person," and the American Heart Association calls obesity a "major risk factor" in heart disease), the consequences of the war on fat are largely ignored. Yet the unquestionable harms of eating disorders and diet-drug abuse surely must be weighed against the largely speculative harms attributable to weighing more than the "ideal" weight. For example, The Center for Eating Disorders' records indicate that 8 million Americans suffer from anorexia, bulimia and various other disorders -- and 20 percent of these people experience premature death.
Moreover, the one statistic glaringly missing from most mortality studies is quality of life. How much happier is the person who lives life free of the constant pressure of negative body-image and fad dieting? How many days, months or even years of life is that happiness worth?
Still, perhaps there is another explanation for the statistics.
Have you considered that the so-called evidence on weight and mortality has been fabricated? That a secret brotherhood of fat guys has engineered what can only be described as the most effective disinformation campaign in human history? That fat guys want to keep you thin, miserable, afraid and powerless so they can enjoy the fruits of your labor?
Think about it. Fat guys sit around and eat whatever they want. Meanwhile, they tamper with the statistics and use fear of obesity to sap the thin of their energy and will. They keep the thin exercising and distracted, like rats in a maze, like gerbils on a Habitrail.
This master plan also includes a carefully cultivated image that allows fat guys to manipulate the thin into doing their work. The fat guy sits behind a desk all day, most likely screwing his secretary, while the secretary's athletic husband is out fighting fires (fat guys have made it very difficult for themselves to pass the firefighters test), protecting democracy (fat guys have arranged it so that the military will not accept overweight recruits) or otherwise creating wealth for fat guys to exploit. The fat guy holds the ladder while the thin ascend, risking life and limb to do the fat guy's bidding.
Actors are thin; producers are fat. Candidates are thin; chiefs of staff are fat. The fat guy retreats from the spotlight, content to be served. Content to rule the world.
And so, the next time you see a fat guy eating a double cheeseburger or struggling up a flight of stairs, do not pity him. Be afraid. Be very afraid.