fat bashing

Basketball, Barkley and Fat Bashing

May 22, 2014

It feels like I’m back in junior high again, taking a logic test – “Which of these 3 things do not belong?” For some, fat bashing by Charles Barkley on national TV during the NBA Playoffs is actually a winning combination of “All of the above.”

When on top of his game, Barkley is an expert analyst sharing insights with more than flashes of brilliance. But, for over 4 years his insecurity is more likely to shine through with his lame joke about the “fat women” of San Antonio.

Forget that while he’s making fun of the women of San Antonio, he’s not delivering any of the expert analysis he’s actually excellent at. Forget that he is a paid spokesperson for Weight Watchers “Lose Like a Man” campaign, who never seems to mention the men of San Antonio. Forget that his only advice if you don’t have “a sense of humor,” is to turn off your TV. The real point is, Barkley doesn’t get IT. The producers of Inside the NBA don’t get IT. And apparently, weight loss giant Weight Watchers doesn’t get IT either.

So what is IT that they’re missing? It’s really very simple, most of us learn it in kindergarten:  Bullying is bad. It doesn’t matter the target or the topic hurting other people with our words is wrong.

Of course, poking fun of public figures for their weight goes back in time to WC Fields, to Totie Fields, to Elizabeth Taylor and right up to NJ governor, Chris Christie. Public figures however have a forum to reply, a place to push back – to stand up. But, what do you do if you’re a woman in San Antonio watching the home team play with your husband, son, brother or dad – or harder still, your daughter or granddaughter?

What they fail to realize is that when Barkley bashes the fat women of San Antonio, he’s bashing all women of San Antonio, fat or not. He’s bashing the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of all the men of San Antonio. When he bashes all the women of San Antonio and by extension, all the men who love them, Barkley is actually bashing us all.

That brings us to the second part of the IT they don’t seem to get. Separating the fat women from the rest of the women in San Antonio, doesn’t work either. It’s a common strategy from the beginning of time; so basic even wolves do it in the wild. Separate out the weak from the herd and you’ll be in for an easy kill or laugh. Not all that long ago, Hitler did it to the Jews. Racists did it to the Blacks. Feminists and Gays all culled out from the general population with comedy and laws.

Standing up to this bullying isn’t as easy as you might think. Going back to 2010 Barkley’s been repeating this joke doing his best fat bashing routine.

The free advertising of “Weight Watchers got a gold mine down there” was so attractive Weight Watchers put him on the payroll the following year as a paid spokesperson in 2011. Inside the NBA continues to win Emmys, with Barkley twice winning back-to-back for Best Sports Commentary in 2012 and 2013.

The people of San Antonio tried to just let their 4-time NBA Championship Spurs do the talking on the court. After two years of turning the other cheek, the mayor of SA, Julian Castro, stood up in 2012 with humor:

This year, social media pushed back with Facebook, Twitter and even MoveOn petitions appeared after Barkley’s comments about the “big bloomers” SA women must wear finally seemed to hit a nerve for even the nervous who usually stand back instead of standing up.

This year organizations registered their demands for an apology, one that Barkley tells us would only happen when “hell freezes over.”

So, I challenge you. What are you prepared to do? Not fat, never were? Don’t know or love anyone who is? Don’t care about the NBA or know a Spur from a Timberwolf? Unable to turn off your TV, because it’s already not on TNT? That’s okay – get involved anyway. Join the growing numbers because we all have a responsibility to stand up to bullying.

Get involved and let your voice be heard, here are some things you can do:

  1. Sign the MoveOn Petition
  2. Like and comment on BarkleytheBully Facebook page
  3. Tweet with hashtag, #BarkleytheBully

 Want to do more before the playoffs are over? Post your objections to:

  1.  TNT on Facebook, TNT on Twitter @NBAonTNT, and @TurnerSportsPR
  2. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Facebook, on Twitter @NBA
  3. Weight Watchers (defacto advertiser) on Facebook, on Twitter @WeightWatchers

 Want to do even more? Let the advertisers know that they shouldn't support bullying:

  1. Sprint (sponsor of the Halftime Show) Facebook, on Twitter @sprint
  2. State Farm (or call your agent) on Facebook, on Twitter @StateFarm
  3. Chrysler (Jeep Ads) on Facebook, on Twitter @jeep
  4. Dodge (Ram 350 ads), on Twitter @Dodge_Trucks
  5. MillerCoors (Miller Lite), on Twitter @MillerCoors
  6. Jack in the Box on Facebook, on Twitter @JackBox
  7. GEICO on Facebook, on Twitter @GEICO
  8. Claritin-D on Facebook, on Twitter @Claritin
  9. BBVA Compass on Facebook, on Twitter @BBVACompass

Photo Credit: R24KBerg



Abby Lentz, founder of HeavyWeight Yoga, is a pioneer in the development of yoga for people who are overweight and obese. She has created and re-created yoga and life disciplines that are safe and effective for larger bodies — built on her over 42 years of yoga experience. From personal practice, to teaching, then training others to teach HeavyWeight Yoga, at 66 Abby brings the benefits of yoga to everyone regardless of their size or situation.

Read more articles by Abby Lentz!