Are Fat “Jokes” Acceptable? We Think Not


Andy Richter Zings Chelsea Handler – CONAN on TBSHave you had an insensitive joke or comment told at your expense that was meant to be ‘funny’ –and then you came up with a brilliant witty response – later – instead of in the moment?

Maybe said ‘joke’ was instead met with a gaping stare, or nervous laughter that was meant to relay ‘I’m not affected by your insult – you insensitive $*!#)’. Or, maybe you did show your pain and then felt exposed as a result.

Most of us have been in this type of situation at some point in our lives, and when an unfunny joke is directed at a part of ourselves that we are potentially striving to accept – well, it can add salt to a very deep wound.

Fat Jokes Aren’t Funny

Recently an ‘unfunny’ joke was aired on national TV – and the joker was handed a response – in the moment – that was both brilliant and witty.  Andy Richter, sidekick to Conan O’Brien of the Conan Show, was recently ‘fat-bashed’ by Chelsea Handler.

While fat jokes are nothing new, Richter’s response has been widely praised because he provided a much louder – stronger voice that dished it back to Handler in a way that spoke volumes. He handled her fat ‘joke’ with grace and wit, and this exchange obviously struck a nerve for many because it’s gone viral with over 1.6 million hits online.

Check it out.

Watch Video: Andy Richter Zings Chelsea Handler – CONAN on TBS

The popularity of this publicized exchange is hopefully a sign that many people don’t think these ‘jokes’ are funny.

Fat Jokes Are Actually Damaging

And by the way – jokes aimed at any body size or shape are simply not funny but in fact damaging – especially for females.

We live in a society that values body ‘perfection’ for women and right now perfection is being defined as thin at any cost as is shown by the prevalence of diets and eating disorders.

Weight Discrimination Contributes To Eating Disorders

Weight discrimination is actually one of the primary contributors to eating disorders because who wants to be targeted by the media, by the entertainment industry, by people who think it’s okay to comment on someone’s body?
To quote social activist Marge Piercy on the topic of judging someone based on size:

“Sometimes I think we have all gone insane.”

Telling a tasteless ‘joke’ that only serves to demean another in the name of ‘humor’ isn’t funny. The popularity of this clip is hopefully a sign that the tides are changing in the right direction.

One can hope…

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About the Author

Erin Risius, MA, LPC

Erin Risius, MA, LPC, is a former program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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