Jason Fredric Gilbert
Pushing the boundaries of weird since 1978

Chewing the Fat: Male Obesity in Israel

Obesity. It’s no laughing matter. Well actually it is. Everybody laughs at fat people. It seems like we are the last minority that it is still legitimate to make fun of. And I include myself in the group of fat people because I am. I wasn’t always this way. I’m like an accordion. I expand and retract every few years.  What I’ve come to realize is that we fatsos (I’m talking guys… you ladies are beautiful and look really thin in that dress) are a diverse group. So I’ve broken down the fat in this country to several distinct categories.

Old Fat. You’ve got seventeen grandchildren. You’re retired. Your wife drives you crazy and tells you to stop smoking. Or to watch your cholesterol. Or start walking. You survived three wars, a couple of recessions and disco music. You helped found a kibbutz and you were good friends with Rabin. Leah, that is. Now you are forced to babysit and this makes you nostalgic for the POW camp in Egypt.


Just had a baby Fat. You were there the whole way. First ultrasound. Lamaze classes. Midnight runs to AMPM for pickles. Shopping for the baby crib. Getting up in the middle of the night and preparing a bottle of formula. You wore spit-up stained shirts to work. You grew a beard. You rocked the Baby Bjorn. Guess what? The stress and sleep deprivation got to you. You put on twenty kilos at least. Unlike most women, you will never, ever lose this weight.

baby fat

Rich Fat. You’ve got a house in Kfar Shmariyahu. A very successful diamond business. You’re rich. One percent rich. Fat and don’t care rich. Neither does your wife, so long as you keep her in Neil Schwartz and Jimmy Choo’s. You could lose weight if you wanted to. You could hire a personal trainer. But why bother?


Poor Fat. Eating healthy is expensive. Which is why so many of us poor people are fat. You can’t afford steamed tofu and broccoli. Or a tuna salad with light dressing on the side. Besides the other guys at the construction site would make fun of you. So you have falafel or shawarma for lunch. Everyday. Because it’s cheap. And it fills you up. Or you find any excuse to hit up Abu Ghosh for some Hummus. Or McDonalds. Or whatever is cheap and processed. You poor, poor man.


Fat and Oblivious. You are a noobie to the world of fat. You still haven’t realized what everyone else has about you. You are really fat. But you wear really tight clothes. Women have camel toes. You have a moose knuckle. You haven’t updated your wardrobe in years and have stretched those Ed Hardy shirts so much the tiger looks poised to attack. Do you even have mirrors in your house? Get some.


Fat and Loving it. You are my personal idol. You are fat but make it look sexy. Distinguished. You wear a button down shirt and expensive loafers. You smoke cigarettes and your salt and pepper hair glides through the air as you drive in your convertible Karmann Ghia. Years ago that French actor Gerard Depardieu made fat sexy. Now look at him. Merde!

Photo by: Jonas Unger
Photo by: Jonas Unger

Fat and hopeless. You are morbidly obese and wear nothing but sweat pants. But you are an oracle to the rest of us fat people. A beacon. You show us our not too pleasant future if we stay the course. Like some fat ghost of Hanuka future.


Fat and in the Army. You used to be so thin before the army got hold of you. You ate all day every day and never gained an ounce. But then you were conscripted and put behind a desk on account of your low IQ. So you sat for ten hours a day and ate. And drank coca cola. And smoked cigarettes. Now you are an NCO at the Baqum and thirty kilos overweight. You love the schnitzel and mashed potatoes served every Sunday. And the rotisserie chicken. Even the luf (when fried). Sorry pal. You will never ever lose that weight. Or rise any further. You’ve peaked. Professionally. Not horizontally.

Fat at the gym. You spend hours at the gym every day. But you don’t actually work out. You hang out by the stepmaster. Or the smoothie bar. Or in the sauna. You talk to everyone. You flirt with all the women. Yet for some reason you never manage to lose the weight.


Fat and funny. You are funny. Hilarious. But are they laughing with you or at you? You can’t tell anymore. Nor can you see your penis. Which is totally not funny.


Fat and depressing. You’re always trying new and crazy methods to lose weight. Lap band surgery. Juice cleansing. Acupuncture. Salads. Anything and everything. But nothing works. And so you complain about it. Constantly.

photo (1)

Fat rock star. You were in a very popular band in the 90’s. You started the day with an eightball of cocaine. Then you cleaned up your act and kicked the white stuff to the curb. And the cigarettes. But then you got fat. Really fat. Maybe even opened a restaurant.

Fat athlete. You used to be one of the best in the country in your field. You represented Israel throughout the world and inspired an entire generation of kids. Now you are the size of a house and look like you ate an entire generation of kids. You really have let yourself go.

I’ve noticed that people tend to take me less seriously when I’m fat. As a result I tend to act less seriously. They respect me less as a writer/filmmaker. As if being fat somehow lends me more gravitas. I call this the Kevin Smith Syndrome. They judge me more when I eat. Like when I’m eating a burger I can see them shaking their heads and thinking: “Wrong choice, man”. You should have gone for the salad.

People are less likely to sit next to you on the bus if you’re fat. Or on the plane. Or on the train. If they do they feel the need to offer you unsolicited advice. Like the old lady who told me to stop eating bread. Or the young lady who told me to cut out the sugar. Or the Holocaust survivor who told me I should have lost weight before sitting down next to him. Poor guy. He’s been through so much.

What I’ve found over the years is that the perception of obesity is different in various cultures. In the Western world it is considered a disease, an epidemic that must be defeated. Michelle Obama has taken on childhood obesity in the US. But China has a completely different take on fat. My good friend, X., from China, used to tell me that I wasn’t fat. I was “Healthy and Prosperous” Which I wasn’t. Not really. I was unhealthy and non-prosperous. But that’s how the Chinese regard fat.

Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 2008 according the WHO. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. So yeah, we’re getting bigger. And lazier. Just look around. But what can we do about it? For starters take a look at this hilarious and eye-opening video by Dr. Mike Evans called 23 and a half hours: what is the best thing we can do for our health. If that doesn’t inspire you to put down the suphgania (doughnut) and turn off the TV then go out and buy yourself a plane ticket to China.

About the Author
Jason Fredric Gilbert is a film and music video director, published author and acclaimed parallel parker; His Independent Film,"'The Coat Room" won "Best in Fest" at the 2006 Portland Underground Film Festival. He is also the author of two books of screenplays, "Miss Carriage House" and the follow up collection of screenplays "Reclining Nude & The Spirit of Enterprise" He currently lives in Or Yehuda and solves crossword puzzles in the bathroom. Please slap him in the face if you see him.