Bad Advice On Berating Your Fat Friends’ Parenting Skills

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“My wife and I are on a friendly basis with a couple who have two children under the age of 10.
Both of these adults are seriously overweight. The mother has stated, in fact, that she knows she is a ‘big girl,’ which (of course) is her business.
The problem is that the bad eating habits of the parents are beginning to affect the children. Both of the youngsters are now also overweight, though not yet obese.
We are very close to the grandparents, who are trying to convince the overweight mom to be more careful when feeding the children, but their efforts have been in vain. The overweight mom tells them simply to mind their own business.
I’m inclined to tell the obese parents that they must help the children to keep their weight down. Such a remark will cause a major kerfuffle, but I don’t care. What do you think?”
— From “Want to Intervene” via “Ask Amy,” Washington Post, 7 January 2018

Dear Want to Intervene,

Fat people are always an unsightly bother to those who have the upstanding moral judgment and good sense to be thin, but a fat person who is not sufficiently ashamed of their size is a problem of another order. Your problem — and all fat people are everyone else’s problem — is twofold: First, this fat lady has failed to apologize profusely and constantly to you personally and the world at large for the size of her body, which you have no choice but to look at, contemplate, and analyze during every waking moment.

Second, this fat lady has already resisted her loved ones’ generous offers of assistance in developing shame around her body. So you’re fighting an uphill battle to begin with — luckily, you’re not fat, which means you can succeed at anything because you do not occupy more than an arbitrarily and culturally designated acceptable quantity of mass on earth, and are therefore a capable and good person.

Probably what’s happened is that this fat lady hasn’t been demeaned and degraded by the right people yet, and you’re just the person to bring a little big-boned beration into her life. She may not realize that if she is left to raise her children as she sees fit, they may turn out to be a size which displeases you, a fate that can only be avoided by your swift interference. It is essential that these children maintain a weight that is acceptable to a person who they may or may not know exists, lest they fail to maintain a weight that is acceptable to a person who they may or may not know exists.

You’re right not to mind causing a kerfuffle — shame and judgment is a 100% sure path to forcing fat people into thinness, and thin people never have any problems, experience heartache, fall ill, or die. If you don’t tell this family how fat they are, who will? The world at large? An annually cyclical litany of New Year-related diet panics touted as essential tools of self-care? A beauty mandate driven by culturally obligatory fat hatred, reinforced in almost every iteration of any public portrayal of a human body? Kerfuff away! If these people insist on being fat, you can at least insist on your god-given right to spend your eternal thin life mad about it.

“A few years ago, my husband planted a fig tree and cared for it like a baby through the cold Philadelphia winters. Finally, there is bounty! Every day, he brings in ripe figs and places them on the windowsill. But the crop is much bigger than our needs. When the figs begin to rot and I ask him if he’s going to throw them away, he looks heartsick. May I throw them out and pretend we ate them?”
—From “ANONYMOUS” via “Social Q’s,” New York Times, 19 October 2017

Dear Anonymous,

Throw the figs out and pretend you ate them! It’s literally the only thing to do with extra food, a strange and confusing phenomenon for which humanity has not yet developed a good solution. What a shame that there is nothing to do with fresh fruit besides just leaving it out on a windowsill to rot. If only the techniques and technologies that exist in fantastical works of science fiction — refrigeration, preservation, literally just sharing your extra shit with other people who could use it — were not relegated to pages of incomprehensible fancy.

“My wife and I are in our 60s. We have been married for some time and are very open-minded. She keeps insisting that she does not remember her first sexual experience. I would be curious to understand why in the world, unless someone was inebriated, the person would not recall this huge milestone.”
— From “BEWILDERED IN THE WEST” via “Dear Abby,” 3 January 2018

Dear Bewildered,

It’s difficult to say precisely, as it’s statistically unlikely that a writer of internet advice columns remembers your wife’s first sexual experience any better than she does. Best of luck getting to the bottom of this quandary, hope you someday manage to find the one of 7.44 billion people on earth who can help you answer it.

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