Worth Your Weight

November 16, 2007

Largesse oblige

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 3:57 am


Last week I learned via The-F-Word that fat haters think Santa should go on a diet. You’d think such ridonkulousness would snap everyone out of their obesity hysteria, but alack, alas

Anyway, I’ve been making my way through the fat acceptance/fat liberation literature. (Is “fat liberation” out of style? I kind of like it.) I’ve seen some invoke Buddha as a pro-fat symbol/icon. It got me curious because I seem to remember learning in high school that Buddha was, in fact, not fat.

So I just began a very casual search about the reality of Buddha’s girth. Not really close to a definitive answer yet, but I did find a comment that was, well, pretty much expected:

With obesity in the West reaching what might be described as epidemic proportions, some might argue that the Buddha hardly set a good example. Popular depictions of the Buddha often show him as having rolls of fat, which seems to contradict the monkish ideal of living a simple and frugal life. The
so-called Laughing Buddha is just such an image.
It seems highly unlikely that the Buddha was
overweight. He no doubt practiced what he preached to his disciples when he urged them not eat after noon and to “eat at a single session. By doing so, you will be free from illness and affliction, and you will enjoy health, strength, and a comfortable abiding.”

First of all, eating only once a day is a method for weight gain, last I heard. Messes with blood sugar levels, too. But this comment just takes for granted that overeating leads to weight gain, which is not actually true.

What I found interesting was the reply to the above comment:

Indeed, I agree.
Glad this is cleared up because I was becoming tired of people calling Maitraya Buddha the “fat Buddha” because he wasn’t ‘fat” per sey. It was suppose to be a symbol of greatness in size. The greater the size, the more powerful the figure is… and the stomach symbolises the persons tolerance (as goes the saying ”I can’t stomach this” )
Basically Maitreya Buddha had a great stomach to
tolerate and hold all the suffering of sentient
beings. His stomach is that of great compassion, to
stomach that which no one on earth can stomach.

OK, there are some mistakes in that quote, but I didn’t want to interrupt with “sic” after “sic.” And the speaker is still being yucky about fat, but I love this idea of another positive attribute of fat! It led me to conclude that Santa is not fat because of tired old fat myths like he eats too many Christmas cookies and only exercises one night a year (but what a workout ;)) … he’s fat because he’s generous.

The historical Saint Nicholas was generous as well. “Upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.”

Trying to come into my own as a fat acceptor/activist, I’m always trying to find positive associations with fat. A lot of them, like prosperous and wealthy, seem woefully out-of-date. That’s why I’m excited to find some gems borne out of some fat hatred.

When you’re in an argument with someone, you’re often urged to “be the bigger person” — big as in forgiving and magnanimous. I think it works for fat also.

 So three new positive qualities associated with fat:

  • tolerant
  • generous
  • magnanimous

Well, new to me anyway. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s new to you, too! To all a good night … and Buddha bless!



  1. I love it! Thankyou for this post!

    Comment by Fat Gal — November 16, 2007 @ 6:31 am

  2. “Can stomach that which noone on earth can stomach”

    Excellent post! Incedentally a man I know that used to have a very large belly indeed, way out of proportion to the rest of him, ate once a day. So you actually can be fat this way as well.

    Comment by wriggles — November 16, 2007 @ 7:54 am

  3. You know what, thanks for that. I always wondered why I have always had a thing for bigger men (besides being *ahem* bigger myself) and you have put your finger on it.

    Nothing against the naturally thin, but skinny people who are forcing themselves into a shape that’s NOT natural for them also tend to be whiny. And cranky. And parsimonious.

    Depleted seratonin issues aside, I wouldn’t want to share if I were unreasonably restricting my food intake either (I have a certain # of mandatory calories a day as my nutritionist is also a Pilates instructor and kicks my butt unmercifully on the regular).

    So thanks for that.

    Comment by littlem — November 16, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

  4. I appreciate your comments, Fat Gal and littlem :)

    Comment by worthyourweight — November 17, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  5. […] Your Weight: Largesse oblige – Quite possibly one of the coolest posts i’ve read this week. I’m not particularly […]

    Pingback by Sunday Stars for the week of 11/11 - 11/17 at BABble — November 18, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  6. Hey, wriggles! I’m new to this blog thing. So sorry it took me so long to retrieve your comment. I always appreciate your comments elsewhere (Shapely Prose and Red No. 3, IIRC), and I’m very pleased to see you here.

    Comment by worthyourweight — November 18, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

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