Fear and Loathing and Fat Betty Draper: A Reckoning

I've taken to Twitter to get solicit some carefully composed thoughts on Betty's weight gain. Or just to hear a lot of fat jokes.
Publish date:
April 5, 2012
fat shaming, mad men, sympathy for the betty

Do they still make Bugles? Because I bet they'll be selling a lot of them now if so.

Fat Betty Draper Francis, as recently revealed on Mad Men, is causing quite the passionate conversation from fans of the show. Some find the bulgier Betty more relatable and even likeable; others can barely contain their horror. The character's expansion has even inspired a spoof Twitter account chronicling her newfound passion for Bugles and roomy bathrobes.

Culturally, we tend to keep a special reserve of loathing and disgust for traditionally beautiful women who “allow” themselves to age, to become fat, or to otherwise succumb to the inevitable. Have you noticed this? Though we are plenty hard on the consistently ugly chicks, we can be just as hard on pretty girls who stop being pretty.

Why? Because pretty ladies owe us something? Because women who are capable of meeting the narrow range of acceptable beauty standards are socially required to do so? Or is it because the suggestion that such a gorgeous woman could be capable of dramatic weight gain is just too terrible to accept?

Fictional character or no, the cruel comments being levied at the widely loathed Betty are no different from those thrown at real-life people every day, and participating in the former contributes to a culture in which the latter will continue to happen.

But let’s use Twitter as a cultural thermometer. Below: a curated selection of tweets from the past 12 hours relating to Fat Betty, presented without further comment. Where do you stand?

Fat Betty Draper. I know I'm two days late but couldn't she have a different medical problem? Like let's say some sort of sex addiction.

The only thing I hate more than Betty Draper is fat Betty Draper.

I'm not sure if it's worse to kill a character off or make the character fat, but the new Betty makes me sad.

Why the hell did they let Betty get fat, ruins everything.

I don't want to eat this ice cream no more. The show opened with our gorgeous Betty being fat.

Just saw another picture of Fat Betty Draper. Took a hammer to my groin, stabbed a puppy, and now using an orphan as firewood.

I wouldn't normally make fun of a woman for being a little overweight, but fat Betty Draper is HI-LAR-I-OUS.

Now that Betty is fat I really can't generate any sympathy for her.

I'm not sure I want to live in a world where Betty Draper got fat.

How soon until Fat Betty dies of a heart attack? Not soon enough.

Every time I eat something even the tiniest bit unhealthy, I mutter "fat Betty" to myself. And then I eat it anyway.

Betty Draper, you fat cow. You should have let Sally have those cookies. #karma

Betty Draper has been a total bitch for 4 seasons. She deserves...to be fat.

Don't buy the 'fat Betty Draper' storyline on MAD MEN one bit. That character is far too narcissistic to let herself go like that.

Not sure how I feel about Fat Betty... she might be fat but at least she still gets the best outfits.

So. Betty's supposed to be fat now? And it's supposed to be a bad thing? She looks gorgeous!

Praying for sex dreams about Fat Betty Draper tonight.

Wait, so, Betty has a diagnosed medical issue and people are still all FAT BETTY LOL STOP EATING? Sigh. I should not be surprised.

Everyone making Fat Betty jokes: remind me that I never want to confess anything deeply personal or sad to you ever.

If I ever get really sad, I want a hug from fat Betty Draper.

Lesley has a Twitter and a book. One of them tastes like doughnuts, and one of them is poison. Choose wisely.