Charles Barkley Fat Shames for Fun and Profit

WTFCharles Barkley is a paid spokesperson for Weight Watchers.  He is also paid to be a commentator on TNT’s  Inside the NBA.  He decided to let those two worlds collide when the panel was discussing an upcoming game with the San Antonio Spurs and co-host Kenny Smith felt compelled to ask  “what kind of women are in San Antonio?”

Apparently not wanting to let an inappropriate question fail to live up to it’s full potential, Barkley went on a fat shaming rant that the rest of the guys seemed to find absolutely hilarious:

Big old women down there…That’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers….Victoria’s definitely a secret. They can’t wear no Victoria’s Secret down there…they wear big old bloomers down there, ain’t nothing skimpy down in San Antonio.

and on and on. And on.  Four grown men paid to talk about sports using their airtime to make fun of women because of how we look.  Keep it classy guys.

This is not ok.  Making fun of women for their appearance is never ok, and it’s certainly not ok as part of a show that is supposed to be about basketball, especially in a show that has decided not to have any women on its panel.   TNT should be denouncing this and Weight Watchers should be denouncing this unless they want people to think that they encourage their spokespeople to promote their product in this way (which, on second thought, might be the case.)

Meanwhile, a slew of commenters indignantly pointed out that what Charles said was wrong because not all women from San Antonio are fat. I’m sure that is true, but I don’t think it’s the best argument against Barkley’s hateful rant.  I think it would be cool if, instead of responding to fat shaming with “I’m not fat!” the response was “Fat shaming is not ok!”  or “Shaming women based on how we look is never ok.” rather than suggesting that it’s cool to shame women who look a certain way, as long as you’re clear that it doesn’t apply women who don’t look like that.

This whole thing, top to bottom, is bullshit and it never should have happened, and as far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t go without comment:

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19 thoughts on “Charles Barkley Fat Shames for Fun and Profit

  1. This is a perfect example that fat shaming can be a feminist issue, too. I am really so so so sick and tired of men (and women) judging and shaming women, for being fat, for being thin, for being blonde, for being brunette, for wearing the wrong clothes, for being sexy or not, for being at all. When do people get it, that others are not obligated to fit their personal ideal of beauty? That women’s “purpose” is not to be eye candy? Sorry for sounding disheartened. But lately, I so often feel like Don Quichote fighting the windmills.

  2. Windmills are useless without the wind to blow them.

    Interestingly enough, Charles Barkley stirred up a great deal of controversy in his career for adamantly stating that sports heroes are not role models. That’s certainly good advice, as he started a lot of on and off-court fights and isn’t exactly a paragon of enlightenment.

    Even more curious–when he was recruited in HS, the recruiter described him as “a fat guy…who could run like the wind”. He struggled with his weight during his playing years…which makes him a natural for a WW spokesperson.

    Hypocrite much?

    1. Yes, that is Charles’s big problem. He is a self-hating fat man who has never succeeded in being thin, hates his own uncooperative, stubbornly fat body, & also hates other fat bodies. I have seen a lot of Charles over the past 30 years since he broke into the NBA & I think he is also a raging sexist who believes, regardless of how HIS body may look or what size he may be, that any woman with whom he would be involved (or at least be seen in public with) must meet the cultural definition of ‘hot’ & must absolutely be thin, in order to feed his ego & make him look better to all those other sterling examples of maturity & open mindedness in that old boys’ network which is even nastier, more judgmental, more superficial, & sexist than the old boys’ network in the business. I have seen examples on the Internet of the few professional athletes who are mature & strong enough & confident enough to have wives/girlfriends who are not fancy enough to be considered arm candy being ridiculed & belittled, having their taste & judgment & their very manhood questioned because they are seen to have let the jock brotherhood down by not doing better for themselves.

      Charles Barkley is not the nicest guy in the world & he is famous for opening his mouth & inserting both feet, being insensitive, & not caring who he offends. Unfortunately, in the world of sports, he is the rule rather than the exception. And all four of those men on the TNT panel should be ashamed of themselves, but I am sure that they are not. After all, they are just saying what at least 90% of the American public is thinking. Fat people are fair game & we bring the abuse on ourselves & if people ridicule & humiliate us enough, maybe we will be motivated to change. Therefore, Charles & his buddies & all the others like him not only believe that they are right in their views, they believe they are doing us a favor.

  3. Ragen – FYI the link for TNT doesn’t work. I’ve let WW know what I think, but I just have zero faith in their ability to see this as anything but free publicity, sadly.

  4. That’s very upsetting to me, because I have admired Charles Barkley in terms of his libertarian-leaning politics and because he seems more fair-minded in his basketball coverage than the others (TNT and basketball sister-station CBS have some of the most biased commentators I’ve heard, made worse because their loyalties seem to change with the winds).

    But that’s just offensive. I can’t even decide whether it’s more sexist or fat-shaming. Ugh. And I hate it even more when it’s someone I *wanted* to like.

  5. “But I follow the rules, and these women don’t, so don’t attack ME because I follow the rules!”

    “Go fat-shame that other girl, so long as you leave me alone.”

    Internalized misogyny at its finest. Everywhere from fat-shaming to upholding rape culture. Hurrah.

    1. (In case it’s not clear: I’m responding to the commenters pointing out not all San Antonio women are fat and that entire argument because it’s hugely problematic.)

  6. Okey Dokey… I just popped off my letter on the Weight Watcher’s site.
    This is what I said:
    Shame on you for not firing Charles Barkley for his fat phobic comments on the TNT show, Inside the NBA. Unless, … is this a new corporate marketing tool? Shame all women on a city by city basis to get them to buy your product? Fire Charles Barkley or shame on W.W.

  7. TNT should to ashamed to have both Charles and Shaquille as commentators. The only reason I will watch TNT is the Spurs. I will not be watching anything else on TNT because they are allowing it. They don’t ridicule any other city.Charles did a commercial years ago I am not a role model”. I sure hope he isn’t – no class. I taught school and I would not allow the students to make fun of others because of the damage that is done. The students had more class than your commentators,. Who are the adults? I enjoyed ESPN’s coverage of the play-offs more than you. The commenting wasn’t rude.

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