I read this here article today and had myself some mixed feelings about the restaurant in question.

On the one hand, while I can’t even imagine what an 8,000 calorie hamburger looks like, I’m pretty sure any self-respecting carnivore would at least want to take a whack at it. And the idea of an equivalent Yay Scale in the middle of a mainstream restaurant tickles and delights me, as does the idea of a non-queer-specific, non-political venue where people can go on reprieve from the puritanical requirements of health, productivity and good citizenship.

In addition, I can’t see any perceived failing that this restaurant has that is more pronounced than any pub/bar, smoke/cigar shop, confectionery, casino, etc. These are all consumer models based entirely on hedonism and excess. And in addition to that, if someone wants to eat/not-eat/drink/smoke/exercise/whatever-themselves to death, it’s no one’s business but their own and they’re likely to do it regardless of any venue provided to aid in their pursuit. Body autonomy is a messy business and it is one without exception.

On the other hand, I had the same reaction to reading about this restaurant as I did to Mauritanian fat camps. Whether the subjective ideal is feather light or heavy duty, it is just that. Subjective. If the goal (and it is my goal) is to truly bring that joyful sense of body autonomy to the general public then it stands to reason that the public glorification, or villainization, of any specific aspect of a human body is ultimately counterproductive.

Where the restaurant loses me is is in the celebration of those who are 350#+ whilst simultaneously upholding the sexist parlance of thin, scantily-clad, Hooters-style waitresses. Each one of those things is problematic on their own but the combination of the two is downright infuriating.

Also, I’m trying to imagine a way in which offering free meals to those above a specific weight could be done well. The closest I can think of is as an honoring rite for those who move through the world with the least amount of privilege. But given the TGIF (Thank God it’s Fatties?) ambiance, I’m guessing that making nuanced political distinctions with their messaging isn’t #1 on their priority list.

I’m not so much interested in opinions on the article itself as it’s, largely, the same old excess vs. frugality bullshit that I grew weary of years ago, but I’m wildly interested in other Rad Fatty opinions on this restaurant and/or wild imaginings on what kind of place could exist in the world that did what this restaurant is trying to do without any of the failings!

  1. That article is really, really confusing. It looks like it was written like three different people. Or by Gollum and Smeagol! Like ‘ooooh, obese [sic] people are bullied and villified by society’, ‘but, my precioussss, what about diabeetus, precious?’, ‘she was doing loads of exercise and was still fat’, ‘and then, my preciousss, she followed this special holistic plan of wellbeing consisting of one celery stick a day and five Om Shanti Shantis every three minutes, and she was cured of everythinnng’. It was really hard to read, and I fear the feeble state of mind of this person. Maybe there’s something missing from their diet? You know, like common sense and true love and respect for other human beings?

    But yeah, that restaurant is very fucked because it actually praises fat people over skinny, average or less fat people. What about a restaurant where all bodies are welcome and praised and respected? That would be much nicer.

  2. I was also really, really put off when I heard about the thin, conventionally attractive servers. And, actually I don’t think there’s a need for a place that advertises itself like that. There are plenty of restaurants where you can eat your fill. I agree that it would be nice to have more places that are openly fat friendly, but it’s not necessary to serve super-rich food in super-large servings. Just treat fat people with respect, you know? I like to eat something with vegetables in it, and I’m fat. And frankly, I’m not up for a meal with 1500+ calories either. That’s too much food for me. Yeah, I occasionally enjoy a big, heavy meal, but what they describe there is beyond the pale.

  3. Here’s my problem with the place: we’re going to celebrate the hell out of fat men who want to eat in huge excess, but require women to be conventionally fuckable and subservient.

    Even if fat women who eat there are equally lauded, it still comes out like those women are honorary men rather than people in their own right simply because for a woman to get hired to bring out those belly busting burgers, they are required to be a specific body type. Oh, and I don’t get the impression that there are cute, muscular orderlies bringing the food out to women, either. It’s a celebration of heterosexual patriarchy at base, and I don’t find that particularly groundbreaking.

    Why not just have a restaurant known for huge burgers and not worry about the gimmicks? Oh, yeah, right, because then it wouldn’t be controversial and they wouldn’t get so much free publicity.

    After all, exploitation makes the world go ’round.

    I think I’d rather not eat in a place that has a hospital theme. After all, hospital food has a worse reputation than even the increasingly rare airline meal. Besides, my husband has actual heart issues. We’ve both spent way too much time in real hospitals to find the concept appetizing, clever, or enticing.

  4. It sounds like a form of exploitation cloaked in ‘fun’. The giveaway is that the waitresses are all skinny. Would a fat, competent waitress be allowed to work there? This guy is making money from fat people under the guise of giving them a safe space to eat, but he’s actually reinforcing all the old tropes and stereotypes – fat people are gluttons.

    To be honest, I find all the posting of huge calorie numbers and the public weighing problematic, as well. I get the point that it’s a way of subverting the stereotype and taking the sting out of them, but in its own way it’s still harping on the same old disordered crap, that food is about its calorie value and the size of your ass means something. Why do people over 350 pounds eat for free, if not as a way of specifically reinforcing the stereotype of the obese glutton, for advertising purposes.

    A truly fat-friendly place would have people of different sizes working there, wouldn’t go out of its way to reinforce the link between weight and excess eating with public weigh ins, no matter how jokey, and wouldn’t work so hard to reinforce the obnoxious stereotype of the fat glutton. I wonder if thin people go along as well, to secretly laugh and snicker at the fatties at the trough.

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