If you haven’t noticed, social media has long been populated by memes of a certain type of shopper you might only find at Walmart. The objects of this mockery are often the obese or “malformed” by blase middle-class standards who wear clothes that only the brave dare don. Thongs on a 400-pound woman that show above the waist of her sweat pants, for example. A clash of patterns and colors on old people. Uncommonly proportioned eyewear or accessories. Near naked fabrics. You’ve seen these gags. They’re ubiquitous.
Here’s the thing: It’s thuggish bullying and elitist to participate in this bashing. Let’s tackle the bullying first.
It is not cool to mock people for how they look. Period. There are a host of reasons behind why someone would want to wear pizza pants with taco shirts. To begin, they are free to wear whatever they damn well want to. What if they are visually impaired? If a woman feels she can pull large sweatpants above her breasts and call it a jumpsuit, she may have a cognitive disorder that blinds her to the fear of not belonging that afflicts most boring Americans. Or maybe, SpongeBob onesies two sizes smaller are the only clothes a man owns. Ever think about that?
Now let’s talk about elitism. If you’re grossed out about an obese woman in a thong letting it all hang out at Walmart, then you must be equally appalled by Lizzo or any other full-figured celebrity in their string bikinis poolside. Body confidence is not something that is exclusive to people with access to money and designer butt floss. Quite frankly, I’d rather see any stranger at Walmart in a cut leotard and white boots than Rebel Wilson in the dark.
If you’re going to pick on a Walmart shopper with an atypical face, then go ahead and poke fun at Michelle Obama’s Hapsburg jaw. It protrudes as much as any meme made about a poor unwitting Appalachian shopper turned into a digital joke. With regard to clashing colors, fabrics and textures, you simply cannot press the like button on any Iris Apfel while adding your laugh-cry emoji to an only-at-Walmart meme.
While we’re at it, say nothing of the man with a car that blows up because he allegedly filled it with plastic containers of hoarded gas. Why? Because his actions are a symptom of anxiety and mental instability in this COVID-19 economy. You cannot make fun of him while expressing concern and love for Demi Lovato’s drug problems, America’s opioid addiction, and while pleading for your Facebook friends to call a suicide hotline for themselves or someone they know.
You need to stop making fun of how bad a person’s grammar is if your own kid could not finish college. If you’re aghast at someone’s hoarding disorder, look in your own cupboards. How many sets of cups and spoons do you have? How many duplicates of anything have you bought and keep buying? News flash – we all hoard.
Years ago, the food journalist (whatever that means) Andrew Zimmerman hosted a dreadful show called “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. In each episode, he’d land in foreign places, find local delicacies and branded them gross and bizarre. Now let’s just unpack this for a moment. Andrew Zimmerman was lugubriously obese, watching him gorge himself on any kind of food was unsettling. But in its wisdom, the Travel Channel thought Zimmerman gagging on duck eggs in the Philippines was somehow not only entertaining, but righteous.
Food snobs are the worst. I once saw a post that read, “My mother makes the best Bolognese this side of the Atlantic.” This was before the eye-roll emoji. Excuse me? A Bolognese is ground beef and canned tomatoes cooked until it resembles purge. I don’t care how you cook it, it’s going to end up tomato meat juice.
People – lay off other people! This is especially important now that the CDC has lifted the mask wearing mandate for the holy vaccinated. We all should have learned during this pandemic that we are the only ones responsible for staying healthy. We have spent many months hating people for choosing not to mask or vaccinate and it’s time we stop. The truth is, we are all capable of avoiding infection both with and without the vaccine – the choice has always been ours to make.
Why do you shop at Walmart anyway? Hypocrite!
Dan Ho, a native of Agat, is a writer and teacher and holds a Ph.D. in indigenous studies. Follow his garden adventures on Instagram @HoandGarden.