Last week at work, we were talking about how it seemed that one of the few groups that it was still "OK" to make fun of was overweight people. By "OK," we meant that people generally take much less offense nowadays to a fat joke or a rude comment about a fat person than they would similar jokes about things like race, mental retardation, or homosexuality. Apparently, it's also still OK to write gratuitous, slightly disgusted descriptions of overweight people. From a New York Times article on Friday about newly rich farmers in India who are showing off their wealth by doing things such as hiring helicopters for weddings:
The corpulent mother of the groom, her flesh spilling out of her sari, giggled as she barreled toward the arriving aircraft.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “We are so happy!”
Really? REALLY? The woman's weight has no bearing on the rest of the story. And corpulent? Definitions include "excessively fat" (American Heritage), "large or bulky of body; fleshy, fat" (OED), and "fat and fleshy; stout; obese" (Webster's New World).
Way to take someone's joy and turn it into a joke, NYT. Your attempt at color and using big words came at the expense of this woman's dignity.
(The OED etymology of corpulent: adoption of the French corpulent, an adaptation of the Latin corpulent-us, from corpus, meaning body.)