Mr. Ottley read a tabloid article about the “World's Fattest Twins,” presumably from the 1997 April 29 issue of Weekly World News, to my Creative Writing class. The twins, Boris and Helga Stocker, reportedly weighed 2,000 pounds each and were working towards their goal of 2,500 pounds.
Over the years, Boris and Helga would go on to reappear in the Weekly World News a few more times with updates on their weight gain and other exploits. I've dug up a few of these articles:
You can also read a poem that references the cat incident in John Leax's Tabloid News.
After reading the article to the class, Mr. Ottley assigned us the task of writing from the perspective of one of the twins telling about his or her sibling getting married. I chose to write about Helga's engagement from Boris' point of view.
20 years later I realized that I had written tabloid fan fiction.
The adventures of Boris and Helga depicted in the Weekly World News were of course, like another tabloid alumnus, Bat Boy, a work of fiction. Very real, however, was Monica Riley, who in 2016 said she wanted to be so fat she couldn't move, and her “average-built” boyfriend who enabled her condition by being her “feeder.” When I wrote my “Boris & Helga” short story, I was in high school and had no idea there was even such a thing as fat fetishism (I guess I should have paid more attention to Sir Mix-a-Lot), but two decades later, here was life imitating a story I'd made up for a school assignment. (After a couple of miscarriages, Monica Riley later realized that an immobilized physique is not condusive to child rearing and started losing weight.)
Now, before anybody jumps on my back for “fat shaming” overweight people, let me point out a few things: First of all this is satire and it isn't directed at anybody specifically. It's meant to make us look at ourselves and try to find things about life to laugh about. If we can't laugh at ourselves, what can we laugh at?
Secondly, obesity is a real problem in society which is only made worse when ignored or justified. It contributes to, among other things, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. I used to take offense when people said, “Americans are fat,” but now when they say it, I realize they're right and I get upset about the declining health of our nation.
I realize that there is a broad spectrum ranging from underweight, to ideal weight, to a bit overweight, to kind of fat, to obese, but if fat jokes offend you because of your weight, take a good, long look at your lifestyle and recognize where you can make improvements: Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed food. Avoid candy and junkfood. When my brother-in-law was a teenager, he got tired of being fat, so he changed his eating habits. He stopped eating candy and drinking soda, and avoided other sugary foods, and he lost a lot of excess weight. I like to eat an apple after dinner which curbs any cravings for dessert, but when I do crave ice cream, I have to go all the way down to the basement (and sometimes clear some heavy boxes off of the freezer) to get it. Exercise is beneficial too, but ultimately it's what we eat that determines our waistlines.
If you want to make a change in your life and improve your health, I recommend the book How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D. It's a research-based book about impoving your health through diet. No fad diets, no miracle drugs, just research-based advice on what to eat (fresh foods) and what not to eat (processed foods).
If fat jokes offend you on behalf of other people, you need to stop looking for ways to be offeneded. Instead of trying to pick fights with people for exercising their First Amendment rights, look for actual solutions to society's problems; reach out to somebody with a concerning weight problem and urge that person to follow the advice I've given above. It's ridiculous that society has gotten so delicate and thin-skinned that it even occurred to me that I might need to write a disclaimer prefacing a story involving an overweight character.