'Jody' Demeans Overweight People

MAIL

To the Editors of the Crimson:

We are writing to express our concern over your weekly comic strip "Jody", which appears in the What Is to Be Done?. The punchline of a recent strip featured a large man struggling to get into his jeans and complaining that they "must have shrunk again." Many of the "Jody" strips in the past have made similar digs at the weight of this character, who is degradingly termed "Big Ben."

We find fat oppression an appalling and inadequate substitute for humor. Our society has yet to realize that the human body cannot easily be sculpted according to the culture's demands. In fact, we don't have much control over our body shape, and efforts to manipulate the body frequently trap individuals in a painful and psychologically draining cycle.

Sadly, about 20 percent of college women have some form of eating disorder. We are well qualified to say that issues of food and body image form an undercurrent of silent pain in the Harvard student population, where the perfectionist environment drives women and men to avoid criticism however they can.

The sort of message put forth by "Jody" is dangerous, for it reinforces the notion that larger bodies are shameful and deserve ridicule. We suspect that more people are personally wounded by the strip than are amused by it.

We find it unbelievable that anyone can beat offensive and tiresome "fat" jokes into the ground week after week, but worse still, the message is beaten into our subconscious. Let us hope that Harvard students can resist the temptation to punish others for their body types. Such prejudice should be considered as cruel as racism or homophobia. Martha K. Taylor '92   Skyler Vinton '92   Co-Directors Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach, (ECHO)