The Proud Sport of Sumo

On the Whole links to a Pepsi ad featuring a group of Sumo wrestlers challenging a group of Soccer all-stars at their game to win a cooler of Pepsi. Its a fun, if silly ad that's built around the "see people do amazing things to get some Pepsi!" with the gag being that these fat men were playing beyond their physical ability. In the scheme of things, though, there are worse ways fat people have been the butt of jokes and I still contend that one reason fat hatred is never as shrill against fat men as it is with women is that our bodies are allowed a reality even if just for comedic effect. Yes, the Sumo wrestlers here are meant to be laughed at in a sense, but you still are seeing fat men's bodies. You don't see a fat woman's body. I can count pop culture depictions of an undressed fat woman on two hands and even that's by REALLY stretching. Indeed, I think that's one of the most revolutionary aspects of "How to Look Good Naked" on Lifetime. We actually SEE what fat women look like and the world kept on spinning.

Anyway, I'm off point. My point is that even if its usually a gag, Sumo is actually a REALLY awesome sport. I admit I watched it first out of fat acceptance curiosity, but its quite genuinely inspiring. Here is an athletic competition with such an incredible tradition where size and heft are prized. This is not a bunch of fat people pushing each other around, either. Its a tense struggle between two athletes using a combination of technique and physical power to best their opponent. All while being fat and damn near naked. I can't tell you how much this helped my own self-image. Just seeing a fat body in that context is a real eye-opener. It is a fantastic sport and empowering to boot. I'm not saying there aren't some issues with the culture of Sumo in Japan with some things I find antiquated and stupid, and other things that are just downright xenophobic. But, if I'm being honest, most American sports wouldn't stand up under that scrutiny either, so I won't through the baby out with the bathwater. Honestly, I just can't recommend it enough.

It doesn't seem to be on ESPN anytime soon, but trying to watch out for it. Its really a stunning experience. Though much harder to find on TV, there are women's competitions in sumo.You can read about a Japanese women's Sumo wrestler here.

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