They say that making fun of morbid obesity is the last socially acceptable form of prejudice. And it’s hard to defend treating people badly over a serious health issue or, worse, destroying the self-image of children over something they may not be able to control.
Walmart got taken to task by the blog Jezebel for hawking a “Fat Girl” category of Halloween costumes. The social media firestorm about adults so childishly ridiculing un-skinny women was heartening for those of us who were wondering what is next—a “Diabetes Department?”
In the same post, Jezebel also complained of racism, pointing out that Indians have also been put up again as objects of ridicule for Halloween in a stunning line of stereotypes, pocahottie for the females and Tonto for the males.
A costume that really says 'HOW! Can you possibly not see the racism here?' Source: Walmart.com
Walmart was slow to react, much slower than Twitter, but they finally took the “Fat Girl” section down (technically, it redirects to "plus size") and came up with an appropriate Twitter auto-reply.
Customer: “Congrats on your ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ section. Always keepin it classy, eh @Walmart?”
New Auto-reply: “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize.”
Notice the straightforward nature of the apology. No claim of tradition involving ridicule of fat people, especially girls or women, and no claim that those being ridiculed should understand it as an “honor.” No hedging that they didn’t mean to poke fun at females with medical problems that cause the look being ridiculed.
The betting window is open on what they’ll say about the “Native American” costumes. Making an issue of the body type of girls and women is bad, and those involved ought to be ashamed. Does it ever occur to the same people that Indians are neither Pocahottie nor Tonto, and the endless bombardment with stereotypes might be bad for them as well?
Ridicule of fat people is a socially acceptable prejudice that ought not to be accepted. But from Walmart to the antics of the fans at FedEx Field, Indians have caricature put in their non-warpainted faces every day. Sambo and the Frito Bandido were retired years ago, and the Fat Girls insult disappeared instantly.
Chief Wahoo lives on, and the most popular sport in the U.S. tolerates a team name that is a racial slur. Mockery of fat people is not the last socially acceptable prejudice, and a Twitter storm of righteous indignation just proved that. Mockery of American Indians is.