The Lands End Christmas catalog has a picture of a skinny Santa Claus on the cover. Their excuse is that the guy is some schlemazzel celebrity whom no straight person has ever heard of.
I can safely promote myself as one who smells corrupt self-interest wherever the odor is to be found. But I suspect this is even crazier.
Americans are fat and getting fatter at what I am told is an alarming rate. From the point of view of a clothing company this is wonderful news. Fat people not only need larger clothes which cost more, but we need to constantly buy new clothes as we outgrow our old ones. So obviously one markets to this growing market segment, right? Wrong.
The fantasy promoted by the marketers is that if you buy their product that you will look like the hunk or babe shown wearing it. Their theory is that maybe you hadn't noticed that you have swelled up to the size of a Buick?
This fantasy is so strong and pursued so relentlessly (I wanted to write 'obdurately' there because it is a niftier word, but 'relentlessly' is more accurate.) that not even Santa Claus can be shown as fat. Even classic images embedded in our folklore and folkpoetry (visions of sugar plums, a bowlful of jelly) are trashed.
Santa is not supposed to have the assassin's lean and hungry look. He is supposed to be jolly. Fie upon Lands End, upon Madison Avenue, and upon capitalism generally, as the enemies of humanity.