“Hello, and welcome to The Fat Lip! I am back from vacation now, and I know that before I left I promised you a SuperFats episode, and that is still coming (hopefully late next week!) but I wanted to stop in and talk about a very recent news story. I had been thinking about doing some shorter episodes from time to time and addressing some of the news stories we see about fatness (like the one about the playboy playmate taking a photo of a fat woman at a gym), and this new story motivated me to get that started.
So this is fresh, breaking news but I think it’s significant and meaningful to the mission of this podcast. Yesterday, August 18, 2016, in New York, San Francisco, Cleveland, Seattle, and Los Angeles, an activist art collective installed statues of Donald Trump in public locations. The statue is naked, and it’s fat, and it has no testicles and a very small penis.
Here’s the thing. I do not like Donald Trump. I find him vile. He is racist and violent and the fact that he has any support at all is baffling and terrifying. He has mocked the disabled, continuously said disgusting things about women, and he’s clearly very fatphobic. There are a million reasons to criticize this man, and I totally get the impulse to mock someone who takes so much joy in mocking others, but I find this whole campaign really gross.
Now, first of all, I’m confused about the message they’re trying to send here. The title of this installation is “The Emperor Has No Balls.” Presumably they’re referencing the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” but the point of that story is not that the emperor is an asshole, it’s that the crowd of people around him were too afraid to lose their status in the kingdom to admit that the dude was actually naked. The story is a criticism of the cowardice of the subjects, not of the stupidity of the emperor. And yeah, maybe that’s a point that should be made, but I don’t think the majority of people who woke up yesterday morning and saw those in public parks made the connection. The overwhelming message that people are receiving when viewing these statues is that Trump is fat and gross and he has weird genitals. And that’s a problem.
So let’s break this down.
First, and I never thought I’d utter these words, but let’s talk about Trump’s junk. Well, actually I have no idea what Trump’s junk looks like and I hope I never do, so this is about the statue’s junk. So the installation is called “The Emperor Has No Balls” And, because the artists are committed to the title I guess, the statue indeed has no testicles. And it also has a very small penis, and clearly the intent here is to mock Trump. But the problem is that having a small penis or a lack of testicles or both is something that real, actual people deal with. These are characteristics of some junk and there’s nothing wrong with them. Neither Trump nor any other penis-wielding person has any control over its size, and, in reality, no dick size is any better than any other dick size. The notion that bigger dicks and balls are better, more manly, and make men more powerful is a social construct, and the fact that mocking smaller genitals is socially acceptable is textbook toxic masculinity. You can no more control the size of your dick than where you were born or the color of your skin, and these are things that we revile Trump for failing to grasp. We can’t feel this way about Trump’s bigotry and then support the bigotry of the artists who made these statues.
And OF COURSE the statue has a big, protruding belly. Fat people are no stranger to the fat-as-political-criticism tactic. Politicians have been portrayed as fat in political cartoons for over a hundred years. Fat is continually used as a visual representation for greed, cowardice, laziness, and ignorance in political commentary. This is not new to us. When I first saw the Trump statues, I thought “Of course.” Fat people are so used to seeing this kind of thing that it’s not even shocking anymore. But it’s not okay and it has never been okay. I’m fairly certain that this is not what Donald Trump looks like under his expensive suits, but millions of Americans DO look like that under their clothes. And I don’t think for a second that Donald Trump saw this news story and felt any hurt or shame. His wealth and privilege protects him from this kind of criticism. He certainly didn’t see these things and think “Man, I should really rethink the way I talk about others.” or “Wow, I am a bigot.” Because you can’t shut down a bigot by becoming a bigot. You can’t. So this installation probably doesn’t affect Trump’s day at all. But it does affect those millions of Americans that see this and think “Wow, that looks like me and all of these people are laughing at it. The whole country is laughing at it. The whole country is laughing at me.”
The bottom line is that we can’t register our criticism for Donald Trump or for anyone by mocking their bodies. Criticize his racist ideologies, his questionable tax history, his apparent hatred for babies, but don’t criticize his body. It doesn’t hurt him, but it does hurt regular people just trying to get through life in the bodies that they have.
Thank you for listening to The Fat Lip’s very first Short! I feel like there has to be a better name out there than “Short.” Something fat-related, but not too cheesy, but I just haven’t come to it yet. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them! But in the meantime we’ll just call them Shorts.
As always, I want to thank Citizen Starcrusher for the music at the top of the show and the music you’re hearing right now.
And I want to thank my Patreon patrons for being so supportive! I’m not going to do shout-outs on these short episodes, just because that would be a lot, but there will be one on the next full episode. And if you’ve always wanted to hear your name on a podcast, go to patreon.com/thefatlip to find out how.
As always, if you have the time, please rate and review the show on your favorite podcast app. It’s super helpful and helps others find us, so I would be very grateful.
Thanks for listening!”