Fat: It’s the new skinny, and no, I don’t have to be jolly

Burt’s Eye View

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ol’ King Cole packed his Pop-Tarts and sneaked out. While we follow the trail of cookie crumbs to bring him back, we present this Cole Classic, originally published Jan. 15, 2006.

I am just about downright debonair. Chances are, so are you, you gorgeous big thing.

A newly released survey from the market research firm NPD Group claims that we Americans are beginning to think that chunky is hunky and hefty is sexy.

We’ve advanced from relaxed-fit jeans to relaxed ideas about how our jeans fit.

After decades of being pounded by doom and gloom obesity reports comes solid research that more people are inclined to ogle the body bountiful. The survey says others won’t necessarily find us sweller just because they’re svelter.

I’m not trying to disrespect skinny people. Some of my best friends are scrawny. But I’d hate to be seen with them on buffet night at the pizza shop.

Over the last 20 years, the percentage of Americans who said they find overweight people less attractive than thin folk plummeted from 55 percent in 1985 to 24 percent last year.

NPD began the survey in 1985 by asking 1,900 people whether they agreed with the statement: “People who are not overweight are more attractive.” As noted above, 55 percent of the people surveyed agreed.

By 1989, the peak popularity of salads as the main course at 10 percent of all meals served at restaurants, the number of people who agreed that slender was “woohoo, baby” already slipped to 41.9 percent.

Now you barely can find a salad bar at fine fast food dining near you.

I believe I know why. The TV show “Roseanne” debuted in 1988 with main characters Dan and Roseanne Connor looking like real people — grande.

No longer were we size sturdies relegated to the roles of kindly background characters. All us Paunchy Petes and Padded Paulas could lead, love, be taken seriously and even act surly instead of jolly.

Do you skinny people have any idea the kind of pressure of having to be the happy fat guy all the time because a stereotype says so? There are days we’d rather belly bump someone than chuckle big-heartedly.

When “The King of Queens” went on the air in 1998, only 25.8 percent of people surveyed said you gotta be size nothin’ if you want to be with me, and hot babe Carrie was married happily to big, plain Doug. It was the greatest mixed marriage of main characters on TV since Ralph and Alice Kramden.

But here’s the curious thing — NPD says while we’re not as quick to pass by the fat guy, we’re not so enamored of ourselves. The number of people who wanted to lose 20 pounds jumped from 54 percent in 1985 to 61 percent last year.

Attitudes like that could ruin everything. Baby, we finally made it to sexy. Let’s not blow it with unnecessary reform.

So grab a cream-filled doughnut and a chocolate milkshake and hunk up. We’re hot and have something those Lean Lennys and Lanky Lauras haven’t got. A lot of it, too. Woo woo!

• We disavow any health and beauty advice dispensed by the portly Dr. Cole. Contact the original dad bod at burtseyeview@ tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or www.burtonwcole.com.


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