Matt Hardy is one of the least popular wrestlers in the world right now. He’s done a lot to garner that reputation. I don’t think I need to run down how much of a train wreck he’s been in the last few years, but in short, he’s acted in a manner that made his brother, you know, the one who showed up stoned at TNA Victory Road ’11, look the part of a stable human being. I have no beef with the guy, but I see why people jeer him, with one reason excepted. I absolutely hate when people make fun of his weight or his physique.
I don’t need to tell you that America has a large population of overweight people. The media has called it an “epidemic,” as if people being fat is automatically a bad thing. Obviously, there’s such a thing as being morbidly obese. Being overweight can put people at risk for a battery of health problems. But how far is too far when it comes to prying in a person’s life? Furthermore, who said that being overweight automatically meant that person couldn’t function in society as normal?
Matt Hardy is far from the only “fat” guy in wrestling. Kevin Steen is one of the most popular wrestlers in the indies, and the guy has a beer gut and not a whole lot of muscle tone in his limbs either. He’s also got great cardio, and is one of the most talented wrestlers in any promotion, period. I myself am overweight, and yeah, I am not as physically fit as I would like to be, I can still do manual labor without collapsing into something soft and comfortable after 15 minutes. Being fat doesn’t make you a fat mess.
Treating the overweight in such a way is not only extremely mean, but it’s dismissive. It marginalizes them on their looks, and sometimes, it’s not even their fault. Glandular conditions exist that make it difficult to nigh-impossible for people to lose weight without the benefit of surgery. Even so, don’t we live in a country where personal choice is of highest reverence, at least in theory? If a man or woman wanted to carry a few extra pounds, they’re more than entitled to do so. Obviously there are concerns when that weight becomes a burden on the health care system, especially if or when a nationalized health care system is implemented. But until then, why should it be any concern of you why a person’s fat?
You don’t have the right not to look at things you deem unsightly. The fact that wrestling fans are the ones pouring on the mockery at Hardy, who, by the way, is in good shape right now, is such a joke that I can’t even laugh at it. Wrestling fans that I’ve seen go to ROH shows have a pastiche of abnormalities that some might deem to be undesirable. There are ugly people, people with bad hygiene, people whose fashion sense is stuck woefully at the bottom of the 1980s barrel, and yes, there are fat people there too. IF these crowds applied the same standards to themselves that they did Hardy, they would all be open to way more mockery than the kind they subject to Hardy himself.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.