Injustice is everywhere, of course, but let us begin with Elizabeth Taylor.
I heard a comedian, Johnny Carson, say Miss Taylor (who is getting married) has not yet lost the pounds she gained from her last wedding cake.
I did not understand this, but I have been putting two and two together from comments I hear, and I now believe the point of these sallies is that Miss Taylor is fat, and we are supposed to be horrified or, even worse, amused.
No doubt her weight could be ascertained and reasonable criteria could be established whether she, or any other person, were in fact fat. I am somewhat less scrawny than formerly, myself.
And if she were a prizefighter, these facts would be relevant. If a welterweight, say, were 11 pounds over the limit for his class, this would be a reason to protest, because it might give him unfair advantage over his opponent in the ring.
But it is not clear what relevance Miss Taylor's weight has to her forthcoming marriage to somebody from Mexico or, indeed, anywhere else. If she is skinny, if she is rounded, whatever she is, she apparently pleases her fiance'.
If I may intrude a personal view for a change, it is this: Women err in starving themselves, and a little filling out of the inherent curves is as pleasing in a woman as it is in many another handiwork of nature, such as the basset hound, where a certain fullness is not only desirable but essential for beauty's sake.
But quite aside from personal preference--for I know there is a widespread admiration for women who strike me as tubercular--there is the question whether a woman's roundness is a proper topic of jest on the National Broadcasting Co.
I think not.
Jack Paar was once a star on this network, and I well recall his annoyance with a female newspaper writer who said his little daughter looked as if she ate too many bonbons. Paar felt that was somewhat outside the undefined (admittedly) limits of television criticism.
Possibly Carson, as successor to Paar, has subconsciously always resented his own excellent sense of the obvious, which has made his program a great success, and has reflected on the extraterrestrial gifts of his predecessor, Paar. It is possible, I suppose, that an unacknowledged envy of Paar (who was more upset about the joke about the bonbons than anything else I can remember) led him to repeat the insult to Paar, deflected and disguised as a comment on Elizabeth Taylor.
Yet Carson is not the only gross bumpkin to comment on Miss Taylor's figure; indeed, it has become a common thing to do, somewhat as people make senators the butt of tired jokes.
Once in a doctor's office I saw a grossly overweight woman, about 400 pounds literally, in the waiting room. The doctor asked if I had noticed her.
Of course I had, as I would have noticed a pyramid on K Street, and the doctor told me that specialists had almost lost their minds trying to devise a diet for her. She ate only very moderately, and in recent months had eaten near the level of minimal food intake to preserve health, and even so she continued to gain weight. He told me the severest diet doctors dared allow a human was not strict enough to help the woman.
I was ashamed, since I had assumed her weight came from a steady input of grenadine and cream puffs, when in truth she was victim of a cruel program of that Mother Nature who is so often praised by idiots.
On reflection, I thought of people who were fat not because of some fantastic trick of metabolism or other iron stricture of nature, but simply because they had developed a fondness for roast beef (far more often the culprit than cream puffs) and who had in consequence got fat.
It finally dawned on me, even if plumpness results from eating too much, is that any reason for me to despise a person of substance? Contempt should not be too freely dispensed, and you might think a woman president of an oil company (recently sentenced to some trifling term of forced public service), who gave the order to shortchange buyers of gas from her company's pumps, would use up the month's ration of contempt. And she looks thin enough in her pictures.
Then there are those celebrated figures, not necessarily flabby, accused of schemes to profit from illegal drugs. And there are judges, perhaps thin, who think the proper way to handle a dog that woofs somewhat is to kill it. There is scarcely a page of a newspaper that does not afford some quite reasonable basis for contempt, and so wide is the choice that I cannot see why anyone would choose, for his target, a charming creature who does not quite conform to the ideal of an insurance salesman or a scrawny distance runner.
I was once a distance runner and have nothing against scrawniness, per se.
Before signing off this unarguable train of logic, let me intrude another novel view: It is wrong to poke fun at people because they have a harelip, a hunchback, a smile like a rabbit's, a missing jaw, etc. Unless, of course, they are high elected officials and one is a legitimate cartoonist, and even then a slight distinction should be made (though you will say this is sexist) between a man and a woman.
Curiously enough, even cartoonists seem to sense this. They never drew Bess Truman or Mamie Eisenhower or Jackie Kennedy with a five o'clock shadow and a face like a weasel's.
Since the issue is in the fire, as it were, no purpose is served any longer by ignoring boorish jests about weight, though one's instinct is to ignore them.
Now for those who must leap to judgment about a human without even knowing him (surely the best way to learn to dislike him), wouldn't you agree that the eyes are a safer gauge than the reading of a bathroom scale. Though not all of us have eyes notable for frankness, innocence, humor, courage, and we ought to make allowances for others.