Tired Santa

Are We Still Bugging Santa about His Weight?

It’s not clear whether we should blame Michelle Obama or Nathan Grills for bugging Santa about his weight. Grills published a 2009 commentary in the BMJ that labeled Santa Claus “a public health pariah.” Obama launched her Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity shortly after that.

As you can see above, public interest in Santa’s weight — measured by Internet searches on the subject — started growing at the same time.

In his commentary, Grills suggested that Santa is a bad example for children. But if there’s a bad example in all of this, it’s the act of publicly shaming someone because the appearance of their weight. Did his mother never teach him that unsolicited comments about someone’s weight are rude?

The good news is that this unhealthy preoccupation with judging Santa based on his weight started waning in 2012. That turn coincided with the rise of thinking that fat shaming is a bad idea.

In the PLOS ONE obesity blog this year, Peter Janiszewski offers a healthier perspective: “It may not be a bad idea to have a public character who remains in good spirits despite his expanded waistline.”

Someone with breast cancer, hypertension, or any other chronic disease is not “a bad example.” The same goes for obesity. We are all mortal. What counts is what we do with our lives and our health, recognizing that both are fragile. Superficial judgments based on appearances are obnoxious.

Peace, love, and good will toward all is much preferred. Merry Christmas!

Click here to read the commentary by Grills and here for the commentary by Janiszewski.

Tired Santa, image © Roadsidepictures / flickr

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