It would be inaccurate to say that I watch Glee; this show lost me as a regular viewer halfway through the first season, as my growing disbelief just because too heavy to suspend any longer. However, I continue to have a vague awareness that Glee is happening, somewhere, and that certain events are being portrayed on it.
The events to which I have paid attention of late have been those occurring between the characters Lauren and Puck, played by Ashley Fink and Mark Salling respectively. Their relationship represents the pairing of a smart and funny fat girl with a buffoonish hot guy, something not often seen in teen dramas, nor anywhere else, really. In one particular episode early on in this relationship, Puck attempts to woo the lady Lauren by singing Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls” to her, in front of the whole class -- do I need to explain that Glee is a musical? I assume we’re all living on the same planet here, where some awareness of Glee’s dogged pop-culture death march toward ubiquity is inevitable.
Lauren doesn’t care for this song, it turns out. She even calls it offensive, which sat badly with me, as Queen should be offensive to no one with taste. Was it the randy sexuality of the song that upset her? Did she object to the song’s fixation with one body part, to the exclusion of her many other fine characteristics? We may never know. But in light of her disapproval, I decided to investigate other songs appropriate for expressing one’s admiration of a confident and bodacious lady’s appearance.
Mika, “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” Mika takes heavy influence from Queen’s Freddie Mercury, it’s true, but he’s always struck me as what might happen if Freddie Mercury’s essence were mass produced and sold in cans at Target. Unfortunately, Big Girl” tends to focus on body size to the exclusion of personhood, which is in line with a lot of the “Fat-Bottomed” criticism, except where “Fat-Bottomed Girls” is a sexy-sounding song, “Big Girls” is.... not. Basically the lyrics come down to repeated exhortations to “get yourself a big lady” as though she is a collectible item. Indeed, the most positive part of the song is the repetitive but catchy “Big girl, you are beautiful” chorus, so a prospective suitor should avoid this one unless he is confident he can fudge the rest of the words.
Anthony Hamilton, “Sista Big Bones” It’s hard not to like Anthony Hamilton, and his ode to the admiration of larger ladies is no exception. Hamilton conducts himself lyrically like a damn gentleman, asking if he can walk said sista home, and expressing his fervent desire to keep her body warm. He goes on to assert that “Frankly I admire your style / how you go into work everyday / confident in your walk and your stride.” Now this is the kind of thing a self-assured fat lady likes to hear! At least it’s what I like to hear. While other songs get mired in the offensive and harmful “thin women suck!” trope---I’m looking at you, “Baby Got Back”---Hamilton chooses to focus on the things he likes about his particular big-boned subject. If the intention is to make one’s crush feel like the specialest fat girl in world, “Sista Big Bones” may be the way to go.
Morrissey, “You’re the One for Me, Fatty” I confess my own bias here: I love Morrissey and I believe he can do no lyrical wrong. Certainly, some will take exception to his use of the perjorative “fatty”, but I prefer to think of this as a term of endearment, in context. Further, even as he promises to remain forever, and announces repeatedly that it is Fatty whom he really, really loves, Morrissey requests, “Promise you’ll say / if I’m ever in your way.” How considerate! I am constantly telling people they are in my way, and they never want to hear it. But Morrissey recognizes that a big body requires plenty of room, and dare we hope for anything better from a prospective partner than an understanding of our needs? On the down side, you basically cannot sing this to anyone ever and have it be well-received unless you are, in fact, Morrissey.
On Glee, Puck eventually tries to make up for his prior “Fat-Bottomed” lead balloon with Lauren by singing her an original song he’s written and called “Big Ass Heart,” which she inexplicably likes, in spite of the fact that has lyrics like, “When that big ass heart flies coach it has to pay for two plane tickets,” and “Your heart won’t pay be back for breaking all my chairs.”
Of course, the unexplored option is for Puck to employ a non-size-specific song to express his love for a woman of majestic proportions. A dude digging on a fat girl is not exactly a freakish event requiring its own unique language and soundtrack.