« | »

WP Pushes For Less Obese Santa Claus

From the front page of the Washington Post:

Santas debate whether it’s naughty for them to be obese

By J. Freedom du Lac
Sunday, December 20, 2009; A01

In this season of ever-present Christmas cookies, an unlikely figure is leading the offensive against America’s obesity epidemic. The beard on his double chin is as white as snow, and when he laughs, his little round belly shakes like a bowlful of jelly — and that, as Ernest Berger sees it, is the problem.

Yes, Northern Virginia, Berger is a Santa Claus. But as president of the volunteer group Santa America, Berger has been nudging some of his more corpulent colleagues toward a different model of Santa. He wants his fellow members of the Claus family to give themselves the gift of less girth, calling it "a matter of self-preservation" that will also help children to whom Santa Claus is a roly-poly role model.

"I’m pushing to reduce the size of Santa by 25 percent," Berger says from his home in Daphne, Ala. "We’re gently and relentlessly focused on getting these men to be positive about fitness and wellness and reducing their weight."

This battle of the bulge has been raging quietly within the Santa community, which is made up of an estimated 4,000 professional Santas who congregate at annual conventions, chat year-round on Claus-centric online message boards, spend thousands on customized outfits and perform everywhere from shopping malls and military bases to homes and hospices.

In some Santa circles — typically, the ones with the largest circumferences — the idea that Santa Claus should consider swapping sugar cookies for carrot sticks has been about as popular as vegan eggnog.

"Some of the obese men are saying, ‘Don’t go there; why not just go get a pizza?’" Berger says. "They feel it’s not something Santa America should be emphasizing."

A half-dozen super-heavyweight Santas contacted for this story declined to comment. "In many ways, it’s the third rail in the world of Santa," Berger says.

Nicholas Trolli, president of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas, says there was no shortage of blowback when he pushed for a slimmer Santa a while back. Some Santa lovers "told me to shut up; like, who am I to decide what Santa’s weight should be?" says Trolli, who is clinically obese at 5-foot-10, 270 pounds and has members who easily top 400 on the scale. Trolli says weight loss is no longer an active initiative for his group, though he says he still thinks Santa could stand to come down a few sizes.

Berger estimates that one-third of professional Santas in the United States are obese, roughly mirroring the prevalence of obesity among American adults. Another third of Santas are overweight, says Berger, who includes himself in that category. The rest of the Santas are fit, but you might not know it, since many wear padding under their big, red suits to create the illusion of a massive midsection. Berger wants to see Santa lose that fake fat, too, and get back to where he might actually fit in a chimney again.

Declaring a fatwa on excessive Santa fat is daring to tinker with a cherished cultural icon that dates to the Great Depression, when Santa was drawn as a jolly fat man for a famous Coca-Cola advertising campaign, his paunch intended to symbolize better, more prosperous times. Although Santa had been presented in varying sizes before then, Coke’s ads made him permanently porcine, at least in American culture.

We suspect the drawings of Thomas Nast (such as the one above at right) had more to do with establishing Mr. Claus’s look than did any advertising campaign.

But how could the Washington Post feel self-righteous about those?

(He was, and still is, more svelte in other parts of the world — plus Los Angeles, where a Hunky Santa, a chiseled, shirtless Claus alternative "reflecting L.A.’s healthy lifestyle," has a mall gig.)

But as the obesity epidemic has swollen, some public health experts have cast an increasingly critical eye on Santa’s sprawl. Two years ago, acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson said Santa’s corpulence was setting a bad example. His remarks prompted howls of protest, with more than a few people accusing Galson of being politically correct in trying to make Santa physiologically correct

"The kids don’t care. You don’t hear them running to Mommy, saying, ‘Santa is too skinny,’ " says Gary Casey, founder of the Santa booking agency SantaAtlanta.com. Parents "expect you to be fat. But that also means Santa has diabetes, he has bad arteries and high blood pressure and high cholesterol — and, in my case, he has heart failure. I had a stroke and ended up with the inability to talk and the inability to think."

Casey, healthy again, is back to working as a Santa, albeit one who has downsized from 357 pounds to 300, with 50 more to go.

Berger sees progress: He thinks the Santa Claus in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade looked 30 pounds lighter this year.

Macy’s spokeswoman Elina Kazan declined to discuss Santa’s specs, saying: "Santa’s weight is a personal matter, one that is shared only between Mrs. Claus and St. Nick himself." …

Two people who won’t be promoting diet change Santa can believe in are the president and first lady. In a TV interview, Oprah Winfrey asked the Obamas whether they were expecting Santa to swing by the White House on Christmas Eve. Yes, absolutely, they said.

The president: We’ll set up some cookies and milk.

Winfrey: Oh. Not apples and vegetables from your garden?

The first lady: Maybe we’ll put some apple slices. But Santa generally likes cookies and milk.

The president: Yeah, I mean, Santa — Santa eats what he wants.

The nanny state never rests.

And their inanity knows no bounds.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, December 20th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “WP Pushes For Less Obese Santa Claus”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    The media won’t be happy until Santa spouts from the Koran.

    “On Ekbar, on Saleem, on Kareem, on Futuma and Alibama and Ishmar!!”

  2. Confucius says:

    I think it’s funny that that fatty-fatty-fat-fat Oprah and wide-load-junk-in-the-trunk Michelle are worrying about Santa’s diet.

    Talk about the pots ganging up on the kettle.

  3. proreason says:

    Shouldn’t Santa come out of the closet now?

    Where is nambla when you really need them.

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    Who wants to bet if Santa visits the WH, he gets the shakedown from the obama thugs?
    (black eye and fat lip)

« Front Page | To Top
« | »