Monday, September 28, 2015

Fat shaming Santa...

I recently started a Facebook group for my friends who enjoy the offbeat stuff I sometimes post.  In retrospect, maybe starting the group was a dumb idea.  I'm not one of those popular people who can whip up a large group of people and have lots of participation.  Then again, I have found that those who like my sense of humor really seem to like it and join in with abandon.

Yesterday, I posted a Pat Boone commercial to the group.  It wasn't a new discovery for me, since I posted it on this blog last year during the holidays.  Back in 2007, Pat Boone released an album full of brand new original Christmas songs and I included the ad in a post I did about holiday hell.

"Hey folks, Pat Boone here..."

Today's post will focus entirely on just one song from Pat's Christmas album from 2007, an album of songs he claims will be filled with "timeless classics".  It's a song called "Santa Claus, You Ought To Go On A Diet".  A quick check on YouTube does not turn up any videos made with this song.  However, if you have Amazon Prime, you can hear it for free.  I spent about two minutes I'll never get back doing just that this morning.

The song begins with the jaunty sounds of jingle bells, then a cutesy piano introduction...  Then Pat sings:

Santa Claus, you know you got stuck in a chimney last year.
And that's because your body is built like a barrel of beer.
From head to foot you were covered with soot so you really can't deny it.
Santa Claus, you ought to go on a diet.

When you sit your tummy sticks out to the top of each knee.
And that means that it's hard to find out where your lap ought to be.
It takes a map to discover your lap but the kids all have to try it.
Santa Claus, you ought to go on a diet.

Cuz everybody knows you're fat.
So they think it's kind of weird
You'd try to hide something like that
Under your beard.

Santa Claus they say if you gain even one single pound
There's no chance your reindeers can lift that ol' sleigh off the ground.
And the girls and boys won't be gettin' their toys.
And they'll start a big riot.
Santa Claus, it's time to go on a diet.

Hey! Everybody knows you're fat.
So they think it's rather weird
You'd try to hide something like that
Under your beard.

Santa Claus, they say if you gain even one single pound
There's no chance your reindeers can lift that ol' sleigh off the ground.
And the girls and boys won't be gettin' their toys.
And they'll start a real riot.

Santa Claus, it's time to go svelte.
Time to tighten up on that belt.
Santa Claus, you ought to go on a diet!

You're FAT!!

Now...  given that Santa Claus is a fictional character who is supposed to be fat, this song seems pretty silly.  Given that Pat Boone's eldest daughter suffered for many years from anorexia nervosa, it seems that he would be more sensitive to fat shaming, even if he's just doing it to a fictional character like Santa Claus.  But then Pat Boone is no longer a spring chicken, especially when evidenced by the ragged way he sounds as he sings this song.  I'm sure it never occurred to him that this song is about fat shaming or that maybe it's potentially offensive or at least annoying to some listeners.  It's just a silly, jaunty, song, perhaps reflecting today's figure conscious mores while set to a melody that sounds like a mixture of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" and "Here Comes Santa Claus".

I'm sure some really little kids might think this is a cute song.  The older ones will probably think it's uncool, simply because Pat Boone is sort of the Burl Ives of today.  I doubt many young people even know who Pat Boone is.  Hell, he was "old news" even when I was a kid in the 80s.  I can't imagine that any parents young enough to have little kids would buy this album, though maybe some grandparents would.  Actually, scratch that.  Some of my friends are grandparents now.  Great grandparents, maybe?  Who the hell would buy this?

I have commented about Pat Boone and his family many times before.  In the above ad, Boone mentions how this album will hearken memories of Christmases past.  That's pretty funny.  As a small child, I did indeed enjoy Christmas.  As I got older, the holiday season became very dramatic and rather unpleasant, fraught with expectations of "magic", family togetherness, great presents, and good will.  Sadly, they rarely lived up to the expectations.  I can think of several Christmases that were full on disasters and several more than were near misses.  Nowadays, I spend my holidays with Bill and they are low key and pleasant.  It wasn't always like that, though.

Getting back to Pat Boone and his ill conceived fat shaming song, I remember reading in his daughter Cherry's 1982 book, Starving For Attention, about one Christmas.  Cherry wrote about all the food in the house... chocolates, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls, and punch...  At the time, she was deep in the throes of anorexia nervosa, but would sometimes binge and purge when the urge to eat became too great.  I wrote a review of Cherry's book and included this memorable passage about an incident that occurred one Christmas after Cherry skipped dinner and then binged and purged when she thought everyone was asleep.

My distended stomach ached-- I must have looked six months pregnant. My food frenzy began to slow down when I could no longer walk without bending over. Did I get everything I wanted? I guess so-- besides I can't eat any more.

But wait! Some chocolates! I'll chew on those on the way upstairs with a glass of punch.

Once in my bathroom, I completed the now familiar ritual I'd begun this time with that first bite of turkey. I forced my finger down my throat. After several gut-wrenching heaves I regurgitated as much as I could until nothing but small amounts of bile tinged pink with blood, emerged. I wiped off the toilet and began rinsing my beet-red face when I was startled by a hard knock on the door.

"Cherry, what's going on?" My father's voice was stern.

My heart pounded. I'm just going to the bathroom. Why?" I quickly straightened my hair, straightened air freshener, turned off the water.

"Open the door, Cherry. You know the rules about no locked doors in this house."

"You and Mommy lock your door sometimes," I answered back.

"Open this door, Cherry! Right now!"

"All right! All right! Just let me get my robe on," I stalled, trying to open the window for fresh air. Then I calmly unlocked and opened the door.

"It doesn't take you fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, Cherry."

"I haven't been in here fifteen minutes," I lied.

"I was outside after taking a sauna and I looked up and saw your bathroom light on. I waited, listened, and I know I heard you vomiting." His eyes glistened with anger.

"I did not! I swear! I was just going to the bathroom and washing my face!"

"Look here, Cherry," he said, gripping my arm and pulling me back into the bathroom. "Look at yourself! Your face is red, your eyes are bloodshot, the room stinks and you're telling me you didn't throw up?"

"I didn't, Daddy! I promise I didn't! I was going to the bathroom. I've been constipated so my face gets red. Honest!" My voice quavered with fear. Tears welled up in my eyes.

"Cherry, I don't understand this. I know you're lying, but it's late and I have to get up early. We should both be in bed-- it's been a busy day. But don't think we aren't going to discuss this when I get back from Chicago! Now go to bed, and don't you get up again-- for any reason!"

Suddenly he was gone and I stood alone in front of the mirror. I stared at my gaunt face, then burst into tears.

In his ad for his holiday CD, Pat speaks longingly of the sheer awesomeness Christmases past, but it doesn't seem like they were always quite as heartwarming and magical in real life as he likes to pretend.  Besides, maybe Santa has an eating disorder.  Pat Boone should know better.  Isn't lying against The Ten Commandments?  

Yes, I know.  He's just engaging in marketing and trying to appeal to people's nostalgia.  So what if what he's selling is bullshit?  So what if his "cute" song about fat shaming Santa Claus is not meant to be taken seriously?  So what if his voice is not what it once was?  Christmas is coming, dammit.  Pat Boone has to make a living.  And you need to get with the program and make your heart light and spirit bright... and don't gain any weight on Christmas goodies.  I know I'm looking forward to the season.  Are you?  


  1. I remember reading that passage in Cherry's Starving for Attention and thinking just how strange the family's lifestyle was. i remember Cherry mentioning that they were going to have communion at home on Christmas day.but the whole "no privacy even in the bathroom" thing and other overly controlling behavior weirded me out more than anything.

    1. Yeah. And now Pat's trying to tell Santa Claus what to do, too. Fuck him.


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