Bush’s Surgeon General Turns Santa into Scrooge

Laurie says:

The Surgeon General wants a thin Santa. “It is really important that the people who kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well and getting exercise. It is absolutely critical,” said acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Adm. Steven K. Galson.

Christmas is about abundance and generosity. Thinness in our culture can’t represent abundance or generosity because it’s about limits – diet, control and struggle. Fat still does!

Apparently the Surgeon General would rather Santa not be a symbol of fat abundance and generosity, but rather a Scrooge-like thin man in a red suit. Probably not looking very happy because he’s hungry and on a diet. I have trouble visualizing smiling children sitting in his bony lap and looking up at him hopefully and thinking about lots of presents and delicious Christmas feasts.

This is Thomas Nast’s Santa Claus. He originated our classic Santa in the 19th century. His Santa is an image of abundance and good will.

Nast's Santa Claus

And here is Arthur Rackhams’s illustration of a fashionably thin Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Rackham's Scrooge & Marley

I’ll take Nast’s Santa and a generous and abundant holiday for all.

And if anyone leaves out “healthy snacks” like carrots for Santa on Christmas Eve, I bet they get coal in their stocking. He’ll probably give them to the reindeer.

Santa Claus, Scrooge, Surgeon General, Christmas, body image, size acceptance, Body Impolitic

10 thoughts on “Bush’s Surgeon General Turns Santa into Scrooge

  1. There’s a similar move underway now in some parts of England, too. Food is bad. Santa is bad. What’s next? Will the Easter Bunny now have to give out carrots?

  2. Come to think of it, if I did the Santa Claus thing with kids, it would be tempting to say “we’ll leave out milk and cookies for Santa. Do you think he’d rather have chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin? And the reindeer are working hard tonight, so let’s give him some carrots to take up to the roof for them.”

  3. “we’ll leave out milk and cookies for Santa. Do you think he’d rather have chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin? And the reindeer are working hard tonight, so let’s give him some carrots to take up to the roof for them.”

    I so used to do that as a kid. Cookies for Santa, carrots for the reindeer because, after all, everyone’s gotta eat.

    Boo to thin Santa I say. This crap is getting ridiculous.

  4. Laurie, I love the pictures.

    Rachel, I’d love to add the “thin Santa” picture in your link. Amazing!

    And yes, of course, carrots for the reindeer and cookies for Santa!

  5. I want to love Santa. On some level I guess I already do. My mother used volunteer to play Santa during the holidays back in the 1950s in Alaska. SHe wasn’t that heavy then, but she adored children and enjoyed putting kids on her knee and talking and listening to them. So maybe some of my angst about Santa has to do with the tragic turns her life took in later years, how much she would have wanted but never got more kids, grand kids, etc.

    When a fat friend said something about how they “made him play Santa” at work, my knee jerk reaction was “that’s awful” but he didn’t take it for an insult of him–he wanted to do it, so that was my neurosis speaking.

    Obviously I have issues with Santa, not the big guy himself–I never believed in this myth, charming as it is, We moved a lot when I was growing up, so I never was around a group of other kids at that age who believed in Santa. My parents just told me people exchanged gifts at Christmas. But during the time in my 30s when my weight started to climb into the 200s, I actually stopped wearing red, my favorite color, after a friend (somewhat the worse for alcohol at that point) called out, “here comes Santa” when I came in. Somehow that remark pierced to the heart of my sense of myself as an attractive woman, which was shaky at that point for many reasons. Santa may be many things, but even when he’s seen as sensual (as in the song, is it Eartha Kitt? “Santa Baby, hurry down the chimney to me.”) he’s seen as male and a sort of Sugar Daddy figure, buying love with gifts.

    So I’m conflicted. I admire others who have that simple love of children, the magic of abundant good cheer and overflowing acceptance of self that allows for generosity. But I haven’t processed through the angst and pain that seem to arrive with them.

    Oh, no! Maybe I have Seasonal Affection Disorder!

    For some reason Terry Pratchett’s book Hogfather really spoke to me (where Death, who is a charming, but hopelessly old fashioned character in the Discworld series takes over Hogfather’s job of dispensing gifts when that Santa figure is put out of commission). Not to say that Pratchett’s Death didn’t do a good job. But Santa is kind of the opposite of Death, and a skeletal Santa, like a “fit” Santa is a bad fit.

  6. I enjoyed this article, put a real smile on my face. I always thought Santa was invented by the Coca Cola company, but hmm guess you proved me wrong. Thanks again for the post.

    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  7. Lynne and Albert,

    Apropos of Santa archetypes:

    Coca Cola did put him in a red suit. I think it was in an ad the thirties.

    I Liked “Hog Father” alot. He is signifies, among other things, the primeval archetype. The bringer of the light on the darkest day of the year. The returner of the sun. I’m sure he wasn’t thin either!

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