posted by fatfu
A music teacher leads her elementary school kids in singing the charming children’s Christmas song “Santa Claus, Santa Claus You Are Much too Fat.”
The audio isn’t the greatest, so here are the lyrics:
I heard a reindeer hoof, then Santa dressed in red,
came crashing thro’ the roof and landed on my bed.
I thought it was a dream, but quickly did I wake,
as soon as I heard Santa scream, “I want a piece of cake!”
Oh, Santa Claus, Santa Claus, you are much too fat;
I was sleeping peacefully but not my bed is flat. Oh!
Santa Claus, Santa Claus, how much do you weigh?
I’m glad I’m not a reindeer that has to pull your sleigh!
He got up off the floor and said, “How do you do?”
I said, “My back is sore, my head is black and blue.”
“So sorry!” he replied, and then he asked my name.
He offered me a ride, I said, “No, thank you just the same!”
I heard a “ho, ho, ho,” the sleigh was in the sky.
but it was moving slow and wasn’t very high.
It wobbled in the air, I hoped it wouldn’t fall;
Said Santa, chewing cookies, “Merry Christmas, one and all!”
I’d never heard of this song, maybe everyone else knows it, but it was news to me. (On the other hand, I live in a bubble under a rock in a cave, so there’s not much that isn’t news to me.)
But apparently, this isn’t the only music teacher this year to figure it’s a perfect Christmas song for elementary school kids. One parent (from another school) recently blogged about having to have her kids exempted from singing the song because she objected to the values it was teaching. (Score one for family values).
But it’s a stumper isn’t it? I mean don’t you have to be terminally priggish to be offended by it and not see it as silly meaningless fluff for kids? It’s all in fun, and it’s about Santa, for God’s sake. On the humorlessness scale, there not enough distance to see daylight between the obesity crusaders launching a war on Santa’s waistline and my taking offense at a fat Santa song.
I’ll have to live with that comparison, I guess. Because if you’re tempted to see children teasing about weight, or a music teacher implicitly encouraging it as adorable and funny, the web site I Was a Fat Kid…This is my Story should be a cold splash of water on the face. (continued…..)
In it, people have posted their experiences as fat children. Some are adults looking back, many are children still going through it. What becomes clear is that it’s a polite euphemism to call what many fat children endure in school just “teasing.” Or even “bullying.” In fact, virtually none of the writers on I Was a Fat Kid use the word “bullying.” “Torture” “torment” “harassment” “abuse” are terms they use:
…Constant harassment, including sexual harassment, threats, and physical abuse filled many days before, during and after school…
…they would pinch and poke at my belly and arms while calling me fatty and laughing up a storm..I was punched and kicked and mocked…
…They use to throw their leftover food at me and tell me to eat it fat boy otherwise they would beat me up after school…
…I was subject to assholes in the street screaming abuse at me, usually things like “fat bitch”, “fat cunt” etc. …
.. a group of three boys started to harass me, calling me name after name….fatty two by four, Amazon, Earthquake girl, Piggy, Fatso etc. They shoved me and pushed me but I managed to get away! I remember feeling as a kid….I cant take this anymore…
…The harassment continued throughout middle school where I would spend each lunch period in the bathroom stall bawling my eyes out because the kids in my grade would moo at me when I walked into a classroom…
…Some kids that had always tortured me for being fat were waiting for me there and stuck burrs in my shoulder length hair. They also punched me, kicked me and knocked me down and ran off laughing, calling me names as they left..I also had my face shoved into snow banks and had my glasses broken…
..on the bus they used to push me around and call me a fat cow, fat bitch, etc….
…My daughters childhood memories that are suppose to be so wonderful are nothing but a living nightmare…
Most of the perpetrators of course are just children, but one of the pervasive themes in these stories is how so many of these kids felt that the adults around them (particularly teachers) were either willfully ignorant of or complicit in the abuse, with some either subtly or overtly encouraging it.
Or that’s how the children saw it anyway. It’s impossible to know, really, from a child’s eye view what was going on in the minds of the adults around them. Was the teacher who weighed all the students in front of each other ignorant of the effect this would have on the fat children? Or just didn’t think it was very important? Or just didn’t think.
I guess I have the same question about teachers who would teach children this song. It’s only funny if you don’t think.
And these days one grisly possibility is that a teacher who turns to this song may feel it’s a minor blow on behalf of fighting childhood obesity. It’s true that some of the writers in I Was a Fat Kid describe trying to lose weight because of the torture they endured (often by developing eating disorders) – but many gained. None felt better off for it.
No surprise, because what’s also clear from reading these stories is that for many of these kids, the victimization they endure in school leads to profound trauma and scarring. Suicide attempts, eating disorders, rage and depression come up a lot. A number bring up the lifelong psychological blowback:
…I have blocked out most of my childhood. What does come back now and then usually makes me cry…
…Those years of being tormented about my weight and appearance still are in my mind…This kind of social and verbal abuse can ruin one’s entire self -image and hopes of healthy relationships…
…I still feel the pain of being tormented as a child and I know that my whole life I will still feel like a “fat slob” because that’s what I was labeled as a kid…I am happier now, but I know that my obsession with how I look and my unhealthy attitude about my weight are not going to leave any time soon. I’m now in therapy and working to kick the bulimia…
…If either of my girls do develop a weight problem, I will pull them out of school and home-school them. I want them to grow up feeling good about themselves and valued as special people, because I wasn’t…
…I will say the affect of this abuse on my self esteem had long ranging effects…
…I am now 46 years old and relatively thin 5’8″ 144 lbs. but to this day if anyone looks at me I think they are laughing at me because I’m fat. The scars never go away!…
…I am a successful educator with a Master’s Degree and certifications in several areas, but I am still that insecure “fat child” most of the time…
It’s overkill to blame teachers for all this – bullying is pervasive and difficult to stop. But I can’t imagine making the smallest most trivial move to encourage it. No matter how cute.
So my verdict: Cute in a vacuum. Horrifying in context.