Would We Prefer a Lean and Hungry Look?

Torontonians are witnessing the high drama of two, round-faced, fat men taking centre stage, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Canadian Senator Mike Duffy. They may well ask themselves whether any moral conclusions can be drawn from the performers’ physical shape.

A close study of fatness both in literature and history suggests that fatness is morally neutral. Falstaff is a model of virtue, and so is Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. Göring is the opposite. Men with a lean and hungry look are often stingy and thoroughly untrustworthy.

If moral conclusions can be dawn from a person’s physical appearance, every beautiful woman would be virtuous.

Rilke wote:

“I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.”


3 responses to “Would We Prefer a Lean and Hungry Look?

  1. Fred Langan

    The upper and upper middle classes hate fat people. “You can never be too rich or too thin,” said to be uttered by Wallis Simpson. The ultra politically correct Toronto Star makes fun of Rob Ford being fat. There are Mike Duffy fat jokes though Duffy affects a more patrician air than Ford.
    Ford is a suburban boor in a Cadillac Escalade, whose brother says lie-berry for library, someone John Honderich would never invite for dinner. If this ain’t class warfare, what is? And no, I didn’t vote for him, though nor did I vote for the man who ran against him.

  2. Henry Lotin

    Fred raises an important point.

    I felt a sense of emptiness/lost opportunity in the Casino debate and vote because the “No” Casino side did not believe it necessary to refute the specific arguments of the other side. The other side “lost” the “culture war”, “Downtown values won out”, Suburban Councillors said that they did not want to be branded as living in a “Casino City”. One Scarbourough Councillor even said his Wife would divorce him if he voted Yes. By rejecting the Ford’s, they rejected their cultural choices. Why bother engaging in an evidence-based refutation of the 10,000 jobs and boost to municipal coffers claim? A Mistake in my view. Defeat them on facts, not on cultural preference, their own stereotypes, and Councillors discomfort in sharing them.

    Well before the infamous cell phone video, the Ford Brother’s shape defined their cultural to many Downtown Elites. Looking at 19th Century US Presidents, and British Royalty of Past Centuries we know that this was not always so. We are a country and a City that prides itself on not having rigid class lines, lets not draw some today on assumptions about fatness.

  3. Elisabeth Ecker

    I don’t care about their body shapes. It is their policies and behaviour I object to.