We’re Out and We’re Stout!

The reaction to my “coming out” as Jolly last week has been huge. It turns out that we are larger than we realized! (That’s Jolly in-joke humor. We can say things like that. If you say it, it’s oppressive, obesophobic hate speech, and I will have your butt in court faster than you can say “Big Mac.” Comprende? Building a truly Jolly-Affirming Society is going to require a lot of sacrifice — for you. Sacrificing a sense of humor is a small price for you to pay so that Jollies always feel affirmed in our okayness. Or are you one of those Khristianist hypocrites who doesn’t really believe in love?)

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

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Given the volcanic response, we’re starting a new organization for Catholic Jollies who are out and proud called “Pig With Me.” We will be wearing cool XXXL-size sashes of brown and green and staging protests at Mass to demand a more inclusive Eucharist of chocolate éclairs and Mountain Dew. Please do not confuse us with the radical group FAT UP. We do not use violence to attain our goals, since this tends to turn people off to capitulating to our demands . . . um, in addition to being wrong, of course. No, we prefer intimidation to violence. All we are asking is for the Church to get into the 21st century and face the fact that outmoded notions of the common good don’t fly in our present consumer culture of freedom of choice. The sole criterion of the good is what two or more consenting individuals want to do. We demand the right to fork what we want with whoever we want.

Of course, I’ve been flooded with questions, ideas, and suggestions as our rolls swell (watch it, obesophobic punsters). One heart-rending post from a Trans-Fatty reader said:

Mark, your glorious manifatso was very inspiring, but did not address the struggles of those of us who, though born with a high metabolism and slight frame, yet feel — know — that inside we are really, really fat.

For years I denied this internal reality, and accepted that — as people constantly reminded me — I should be “grateful” to be so naturally thin. But how unnatural it felt! In college I began to experiment with wearing baggy shirts and bulky sweaters . . . only when I was alone in my room, at first, but as I gained confidence, I began to wear oversized clothes all the time, and even took to stuffing them a bit to give me that “hefty” look I craved.

After years of preparatory counseling (thanks Dr. Schmuckton!), I’m happy to announce that I am now planning to have dozens of pounds of fat surgically grafted on to my body, and look forward to finally living as I know I was meant to live. This is risky — especially since many so-called “advanced” countries will not allow doctors to perform the procedure — but what matters is that I should be able to express any idea that enters my imagination in any way I want. I’m a little nervous about dating again, but I can’t wait to get my new driver’s license showing my new officially state recognized weight of 265 pounds!

What could be more natural and liberating than the course of action this brave soul has chosen? We not only are what we eat, we are what we will ourselves to be. As the beautiful hymn puts it, “We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew.”


On the other hand, other readers are not enlightened at all. One of them writes concerning our liberating call for a chocolate éclair and Mountain Dew Eucharist:

I find the above quote too close to irreverence for the sacredness of the Eucharist to be humorous. I truly doubt that Canon Law 924.1, which says that only bread and wine is to be consecrated into the Body and Blood of Jesus will ever be changed based on over 2,000 years of tradition.

Next you’ll be telling me that God says only a man and a woman are fit matter for the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Church needs to get with the times: the New York Times, to be precise. We’re out and we’re stout! Deal with it! Or, as one of our LGBT sisters says: Keep your rosaries off our XXXL hosiery! Down with Weighcism!

Another reader writes with concern and sympathy for the suffering of Jollies:

Could it be that my obesophobia is inhibiting the efficacy of my prayers?

Yes. That’s exactly your problem. God is punishing you for your bigotry. He’s also telling you that you need to get in touch with your inner Jolly and start apologizing in the dim hope of finding forgiveness. A lot of people suffer from repression of their own Jolliness because of their obesophobia. No doubt you are one of them. However, with enough abject grovelling and denunciation of yourself and your loathsome bigotry, you can know the freedom and liberation of Temperanormative Shame. Well? What are you waiting for? Get cracking with the guilt! You’ve got a lot to make up for!

Still another reader asks:

I’m getting a little dizzy from cognitive dissonance. I’m not sure if a Christian society is supposed to embrace Jollies with Chestertonian good humor . . . fight Jolliness with 5 day a week PE and outlawing public displays of cankles and fat rolls . . . or tolerate Jollies but periodically humiliate them.

I should have thought my point was extremely clear: A Christian society is supposed to a) offer nothing but applause and total affirmation to the Jolly lifestyle; b) die and get out of the way; or, best of all, c) some combination of the two. Tolerance is not enough. You MUST approve and celebrate! We demand that each and every member of American culture stop “tolerating” and start cheering the Jolly lifestyle with full-throated approval. Shame-based humor must cease.


One reader raises a vital point about our national security and the urgent need for our military to voice full-throated approval of the Jolly lifestyle:

I particularly want to know when the military [will] cease its unrelenting discrimination against Jolly people. Just because I am not skinny doesn’t mean I don’t love my country.

Precisely! The purpose of the military is to make me feel affirmed, accepted, and applauded for whatever appetite I wish to indulge. It is absolutely crucial that our troops not only know what and how much their comrades-in-arms eat in their spare time but that they be forced to applaud it. The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy has to stop! Military personnel should be compelled to make accommodations for Jollies and our special needs and desires, particularly on the field of combat. Otherwise, they betray the very American values of consumerism and limitless appetite they are committed to defending around the world!

“Pie Curious” writes:

I think you underestimate the breadth of the Jolly experience. I know that there are many people like myself who would not identify as Jolly who have nonetheless experimented with the lifestyle. There’s no denying those heady college nights when I took comfort in the company of Papa John and Sam Adams. I consider it a rite of passage and know that I learned a lot about myself through it.

While I certainly appreciate your willingness to experiment with the Jolly lifestyle, I’m afraid I have to also say that I have just about had my fill (watch it, obesophobic punsters!) of this sort of non-committal “Jolly till Graduation” play-acting. What the Jolly Movement needs are people who are out and proud, not kids playing games. So: Thanks for your interest and support, but you disgust me and we will crush you when our God of Love finally achieves total cultural domination. All your half-hearted dabbling does is lead young Jollies into profound Slender Identity Confusion.

Another reader says:

Don’t forget the evil organizations like Weight Watchers. They would have us believe that they can cure Jolliness. There are even former Jollies like Marie Osmond and Valerie Bertinelli who boast of their ex-Jollydom and how they are now Normal. And how about doctors who perform the evil liposuction? All of them must be named and shamed and put out of business by any means necessary.

Have no fear. All of these will be lined up against the wall when my God of tolerance really gets what we want. I mean, what He wants — you know: justice, peace, and love. All that.


One of my more scholarly readers writes:

Jolliness has been seen as a sign of wealth and well-being. It signified that a person had access to food and was not overworked. It was a particular status symbol for a man to have a Jolly wife — it meant that he was a great provider.

(A remnant of this can be seen in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, in which the protagonist, dreaming of wealth, remarks that his wife would then look “like a rich man’s wife/With a proper double chin.” )

Even today, on the island of Mauritania, many young girls are sent off to be properly fattened up so as to be attractive to prospective husbands. This is, alas! much less common than it was, as Western influence is destroying the native culture’s embrace of Jolliness.

Artwork has celebrated female Jolliness in particular — from the Venus of Willendorf to the ladies of Reubens. But again, anti-Jolly prejudice has reared its ugly head, so that now it is more difficult to find positive images of the Jolly woman.

Popular music has been an anti-Jolly stronghold for a long time. (The old song, “I Don’t Want Her, You Can Have Her, She’s Too Fat For Me” comes to mind.) Something of a breakthrough was made by the pioneering Sir-Mix-a-Lot, with his classic “Baby Got Back,” but he was still bound by his prejudice against large waistlines. (A similar flawed view informs the more recent song by Beyonce Knowles, “Bootylicious.”)

Perhaps the finest examples of transgressive celebration of the Jolly in popular music are “Eat It” and “Fat” by Mr. Alfred Yankovic. This genius, under the guise of parody, has managed to write paeans to the Jolly lifestyle. This is all the more remarkable as he himself does not seem to be Jolly, but a true artist can see beyond his or her own limitations.

We of the Lardo/Giant/Brickhouse/Tubby (LGBT) movement love Transgressive Art, just so long as it doesn’t transgress on our feelings. One obesophobic bigot sent me a link to the insulting “Too Fat Polka” here, but I have his IP address and we will be contacting the Hate Speech Police shortly. Right transgression will be rewarded. Wrong transgression will be punished.

Another reader exhibits correct thinking when he writes:

We definitely need to re-evaluate all of history from a Jolly perspective. I’m quite certain, for example, that Jesus Christ was Jolly: he’s accused of being a drunkard and a glutton, after all. It pleases me to think that he was really bending stereotypical expectations of girth. Yet the repressive and fastidious Powers That Were constantly portray him as skinny, even skeletal, hanging on that cross. That’s just not affirming. I want to see a Christ with a belly as vast and inclusive as my own!

And of course, all the greatest saints of the Church also were Jolly — though most of them had to hide the fact or cover it with shame. Even that promoter of temperanormativity, Thomas Aquinas, was as wide as he was tall!

Our great hero, of course, is Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick. There’s out and stout for you! Coca-Cola really tapped into the deep historical consciousness of our kind when they unveiled his Jolliness. (Just ignore those older portrayals of St. Nicholas as some lithe acrobat tossing coins in young ladies’ windows. That clearly has nothing to do with affirming Jolliness.)

Yes. This is exactly what is called for: a celebration of the rich heritage of Jollies in the Church, whether closeted like St. Thomas or out like St. Nick, as well as an exposure of the suppressed narratives of Jolliness in the Gospels themselves. The Gospels do not record one word from Jesus about the so-called “sin” of gluttony. Moreover, modern scholarship now attributes the so-called “fasting” narratives to the Skinny (S) redactor of Q. Likewise, the sayings attributed to Jesus that recommend fasting are, I am persuaded, an interpolation by a later obesophobic scribe. What the Gospels clearly record is Jesus letting his disciples pick and eat of the earth’s abundance even on the Sabbath. They show him comparing the Kingdom to a Wedding Feast, multiplying loaves and fishes, making vast quantities of wine, attending many feasts, and founding the Eucharist on the Feast of Passover.

This feast, it may interest the fasting old men in Rome to learn, involved far more than just a small bit of bread and a sip of wine. There was lamb, herbs, many cups of wine, and much more. But all this was suppressed when Constantine transformed the Jolly Jew of Nazareth into the harsh, fasting God of Catholic orthodoxy. Moreover, the early Church, before it was corrupted by contact with the obesophobic Paul, clearly followed in Jesus’ footsteps, celebrating the Eucharist in the context of an Agape Feast in which food and drink were so abundant that the prudish Paul attempted to crush the gaiety by reproving the Corinthians with shame-based exhortations:

When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:20-25)

Note how Paul attacks the zesty appreciation of food and drink in the Corinthian community via guilt-inducing rhetoric that dampens the festive atmosphere with dreary worries about the so-called “common good.” Note as well the way in which he suppresses the narrative of the full flavor of the original Lord’s Supper, with its varied and extensive Passover menu, reducing the entire thing to a mere bite of bread and sip of wine. Then note how all the synoptic Gospels follow this pattern.

It is the misogynistic, homophobic, obesophobic Paul we have to blame for transforming the rich and celebratory festivity of Jesus into the cold religion of Christianity. As the founder of Pig With Me, I demand the Church repudiate the oppressive Pauline insistence on self-denial and instead Celebrate Immensity.

I do this because the Church is always reforming, becoming more and more faithful to what I am certain a future council is going to teach. We have to cast off the shackles of the Dark Ages when people were hundreds of years stupider than we are.

But at the same time, we have to remember that what I am saying is not revolutionary at all. No, as scholars like John Dominic Croissant have shown in such works as Jolly Feasting in Pre-Modern Europe, it took time for the repressive Pauline/Constantinian narrative to propagate throughout the Church. For a long time, the Church, according to Croissant, actually blessed the noble Roman custom of Safe Snacking in which the faithful held an Agape, ate as much as they could possibly hold, and then eliminated it in a vomitorium — followed by a Eucharist of whatever they wanted to eat. We know this because reliable ancient texts inform us:

The blessed St. Esophagus once held . . . dinner . . . . Poor, lame, . . . had their fill. Paul taught that Jesus emptied himself . . . . Do this in memory of me.

This sort of rigorous scholarship is forcing a startling change in the temperanormative regime that has hitherto dominated the Church, and it will soon be forcing changes in society at large.


One or two more points, and then I need to head off for the planning session for our upcoming Jolly Pride parade. (Any obesophobic humor in the comboxes about “blimps” or “balloons” will be met with swift and merciless punishment! A Jolly Church is a Church of Love, not a community of Shame or disempowering humor.)

A reader expresses his concern about the so-called “unhealthy” Jolly lifestyle:

Many comments and not a single instance of the word that renders it sadly less humorous than it could be to me: diabetes.

I totally hear you. But don’t let temperanormative mythology impede your embrace of your Jolly nature. The fact is, diabetes is everywhere, and everyone is at risk. One of the great tragedies of the 1980s is that, as the band played on in Reagan’s Amerika, Jollies and Coke users were stigmatized as somehow uniquely guilty of living a lifestyle that put them at “high risk” for diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke. Instead of acknowledging that these diseases could strike anywhere at any time, our obesophobic culture instead chose to place the focus on Jollies.

We now know that instead of hopeless calls for temperance-based education or religious mind control geared toward “disciplining appetites,” “avoiding gluttony,” and other such crude relics of Dark Age Catholicism, the key is to follow the ancients and practice Safe Eating. If we teach our children to eat without shame and then give the food back to Mother Earth when they are done, we could see a beautiful paradise of health and happiness such as existed before the imposition of temperanormative patriarchal religion. Nuns who have explored Wicca, such as Sr. Ann O’Rexia, have demonstrated that neo-pagan forms of non-papolatrous Catholic praxis hold great promise in this regard. Just because some of us choose to digest our food doesn’t mean that those at risk for diabetes need to do the same. Practice safe eating if you feel you need to, and live the rainbow of immensity.

With that, I bid you farewell in the words of reader Red Cardigan’s beautiful hymn:

Let there be pizza first
And let it be passed to me,
Let there be pizza first
As pizza was meant to be,

With gobs of mozzarella,
Sausage, olives too
Let us add pepperoni,
And pour a Mountain Dew.

Let there be pizza first
Let’s add extra toppings, now
Let there be pizza first
Let’s make it a solemn vow:

To take each pizza
And eat each pizza
Until our stomachs hurt!
Let there be pizza, first,
And then let’s all have dessert!

Stay Large and In Charge!


  • Mark P. Shea

    Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He was a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and is a former columnist for Crisis Magazine.

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