Shireen Mazari’s weight is not a political issue!

Published: August 20, 2014
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As a person whose political stance is almost wholly antagonistic to Mazari’s, I’m still upset by the barrage of memes on the internet mocking her for her weight. PHOTO: FILE

Being an overweight public figure isn’t easy. In a world obsessed with appearances, it’s like wearing a ready-made joke on your lapel that you just know your critics will use the first chance they get, however irrelevant it might be.

Fat-shaming is effortless. On the list of categories of comedy arranged by the level of creativity involved, a fat joke is half a step higher than letting out a fart and giggling. All one requires, is to take note of the obvious fact that a person weighs more than normal, and compare him or her to any number of large, heavy objects like trucks and containers.

And the best part about fat jokes is that they’re easily interchangeable among obese public figures. What applies to Shireen Mazari, applies to Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, academic prodigy Ali Moeen Nawazish, and even US senator, Chris Christie.

The internet now stands rife with jokes on Mazari’s weight and gender. On one occasion, Hassan Nasir sarcastically complained about Mazari being called a ‘bulbul’ (a fairly mild, but gender-specific form of insult) by a friend of his, and suggested calling her a ‘bull bull’ instead.

The following are the responses I’m likely to receive concerning my position on the matter.

“How come you’re defending Shireen Mazari?”

As a person whose political stance is almost wholly antagonistic to Mazari’s, I’m still upset by the barrage of memes on the internet mocking her for her weight. They choose not to target her rhetoric, idealism, political immaturity or constitutional ignorance, all of which require amateur comedians and the consumers of their jokes to educate them first.

Why not just point at her and call her ‘fat’ instead? It’s quick and appeals to the common denominator.

For women, it’s a double whammy. The society has reached an unspoken and virtually uncontested agreement that a woman’s natural responsibility, above all, is to be pretty. Men have a slight advantage as they are more often judged by their career success, political acumen, and earnings. For a female, the cardinal sin is not keeping her appearance at the top of her list of priorities.

Obesity has been used as a comedic tool for so long, that humanity’s collective neuronal circuitry has been rewired to treat fat people as living jokes. Obese persons nearly lose their right to be taken seriously.

“They’re asking to be ridiculed!”

Fat-shaming is so perverse, that the majority now considers it a community-service – a way to motivate people for physical fitness. This attitude represents gross ignorance of human biology, and the fact that obesity can be extremely tenacious. Some people, through a series of uncontrollable factors, simply have a harder time losing weight than others.

It’s essential to be empathetic to their difficulties. Failure to drop enough pounds is not evidence of the person not trying to do so.

“Where’s your sense of humour?”

Imagine one cracking a joke about brain haemorrhage, when your grandparent has recently died of one; and on noticing the darkening expression on your face, him chiding you for lacking a sense of humour or being too sensitive.

You may argue that fatness is not a tragedy at par with a dead grandparent, but it’s not as light-hearted as you might think either. Obesity is often a matter of great physical and social torment for an affected person, and you just have to excuse him or her for not being amused by you joking about it.

Fat people often feign laughter when humorously called out on their weight problem, out of fear of being labelled ‘stern’ or ‘pompous’. Many of them then go about sulking privately in front of a mirror for the rest of the day, just because you decided to be a comedian and shame them for their size, which they’re having a very difficult time changing.

fat joke hangs above a large person’s head like an anvil, waiting to drop at any moment as the cord is so easy to cut. It’s exhausting keeping oneself constantly braced for it, and worst of all, having it misconstrued as valid argument against one’s personal or professional decisions, whatever they may be.

I trust us to find a better way to entertain ourselves, and criticise Shireen Mazari, without dehumanising and shaming her for her physical appearance.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • saima

    i think u r defending urself;) anyway….good effort…A1:)Recommend

  • milo

    Thankyou for this article. This goes for making fun of anyone, of their appearance or personality etc. Ive come to realize we’re all monsters, we wait to see which one of us slips and then we pounce and him alive and that monster has probably done the same when he had the chance. I felt sick when i came across the choudhry shujat’s speech therapy video that went viral, the comments were downright cruel. An old man suffering from parkinson’s was apparently funnyRecommend

  • siesmann

    Weight might not be an issue;her tongue is for sure.Recommend

  • Friend

    Faraz, I generally disagree with your views (while respecting your courage in putting them out there), but this time my friend you have hit the nail right in the center of its tiny little head.
    I absolutely hate and abhor it when people make fun of some overweight individuals whom I love very much. And then saying “Oh I’m just trying to motivate him/her to get to the gym and work it off” is nothing but the most concentrated vomit-inducing form of pure, unadulterated crap. No, you’re not trying to help them. You’re just trying to act cool and make people laugh at the expense of someone else who you’re damaging psychologically and emotionally every single time you open your mouth.
    Okay, I feel much better now. I had that bottled up for a long time. Cheers ~Recommend

  • Anas

    And hair(or a lack of’em) is okay to be joked about. Do share the last article you wrote on why PTIs supporters should not make fun of the Sharriffs.Recommend

  • Chris Christie is not a senator. He’s the current governor of New Jersey and a likely contender for Republican Party’s presidential nomination for 2016.Recommend

  • Mesomorph

    I’m against bullying and fat-shaming and sympathize with people who are obese because of dieseases,disabilities or hereditary reasons BUT if you’re fat cause you’re lazy and eat too much, that shouldn’t be acceptable nor promoted as such; a healthy lifestyle and diet is what should be encouraged.Recommend

  • rohan

    dude, remember, obesity runs in the family, because no one runs in the family o.ORecommend

  • sterry

    I agree we shouldn’t belittle Shireen Mazari for being obese and unattractive but we can make fun of her hot air speeches in which she tries to justify lawless behavior, mob rule and public unrest by a power hungry Imran Khan. The problem with being a public figure is that you open yourself to criticism and in her case, her crass street level talk invites ridicule.Recommend

  • p r sharma

    Criticizing on subjectivity indicates their lack of knowledge to analyse the words/policies/ ideology expressed by the person being criticized. So they prefer on the easier target ( appearance/ personal relations) which is though irrelevant in public domain.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Absolutely right. Time and again I have seen that the feudal type of politicians consider her to be an easy target to ridicule. And good job pointing out the fact that saying “man have a sense of humor” is an utterly ridiculous defense to give.Recommend

  • MG

    Writer should know that Chris Christie is the New Jersy governor, not a senator.Recommend

  • Ahmed Iqbal

    Baat to theek kar rahey ho lekin,, Yo mama so fat jokes are sooo funny.Recommend

  • Salman

    Probably the most useless blog ever written.
    Recommend

  • Acha Desh

    What has the world come to? Even Pakistanis are making fun of madame Jalebi
    She has always been a “heavyweight” ….err…in politics.Recommend

  • Cheap shots

    Maybe people get intimidated and then search for easy ways out like ridiculing weight,baldness etc.. It’s in bad taste-but are we refined and cultured enough not to resort to such humour,esp.in moments of jealousy & inferiority ?Recommend

  • PapaCharlie

    Er…..Chris Christie is not a Senator: He is the Governor of the State of New Jersey. Lets not pick on appearances…….if she has a health issue, it is a private issue.Recommend

  • abhi

    I can sympathize with you.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Yep. Excuse my typo.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Who’s “promoting” fatness? My call for fat people to not be constantly dehumanized and comedified, is not a denial of the legitimate health problems of obesity.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    So we can make her crass street-talk the object of ridicule, not her weight.Recommend

  • Imtiaz

    I don’t mind her weight. It’s her thoughtlessness which bothers me.Recommend

  • Malik Abdul Rehman

    yo mama so fat jokes !!!!anyoneRecommend

  • Shelley Shelley

    good oneRecommend