Friday, June 14, 2013

They Were Just More Blunt Back Then - Secret Romance's "Fat!"

 Notice she is reading Charlton
romances whilst eating those bonbons

Remember last time when I mentioned those bizarre Charlton covers? Well, this definitely counts as one of those, as does the corresponding interior story. Let me tell you -- "Fat!" an Art Cappello penciled tale from Secret Romance #44 (August 1979), does not beat around the bush.

Miriam Cronin has a problem. While at one time she thought she was just a little on the plump/chubby side, it has become apparent to her (via lack of male attention) that she is "just plain... FAT!"

All of Miriam's friends are married (those skags!?), and she comes to the conclusion that if she only had will power, she could get her nice figure back. As we soon discover, Miriam is a driven career girl. When a new regional sales manager named Mr. Williams comes to the company, she is determined to become his secretary.

During her interview for the position, Mr. Williams lets her know that she is "intelligent, loyal, hard working, responsible and accurate." Despite all her fabulous attributes, she is flawed. Miriam is too fat, and Mr. Williams will not tolerate it. He then goes into a long speech, asking her if she rather him not acknowledge it and pretend that there is no hope for her. As is expected, Miriam tells him he is rude and that he can take the job and shove it. Mr. Williams placates Miriam by telling her that he needs her and that he will help her lose the weight -- she is worth it.

Mr. Williams gives Miriam an ultimatum. Go on a diet and exercise plan or lose her job. Miriam agrees because she likes what she does for a living. He then arranges for Miriam to visit a doctor, who prescribes a diet plan for her. Later that day, Miriam is surprised by a delivery of exercise equipment to her home, courtesy of Mr. Williams. She decides to go along with it all.

"If it's possible, Boss...
I'm going to have the last laugh!"

Miriam gets to it and works her butt off. Literally. The weeks pass and the weight melts away. Miriam knows she is on the right path when men start to notice her and she sees a flicker of interest from the boss.

When Mr. Williams goes on a business trip to Europe for ten weeks, Miriam decides to step it up. Hell or high water, she will lose the weight. And she does, getting down to a svelte 116 pounds. 

As can be expected, Mr. Williams is blown away. He declares that he knew Miriam could look like that from the first day he met her. He then proceeds to fire her anyhow! But, for a good reason (in the Charlton universe) -- to make her his wife.

Obviously a problematic story from our viewpoint in a day and age when we are smart enough to know that weight loss is for more than just vanity's sake. I am not too sure what to say about this one, other than it is definitely a product of its time and just another example of Charlton being Charlton! Discuss!


  1. I love the classic 'boss fires employee because he's marrying her' ending!

  2. Oh, man, product of its time or not, this is just so many shades of wrong, right down to that ending where she marries the manipulative jerk who threatens her with dismissal if she doesn't slim down into his ideal woman. Seriously, even back then a more suitable ending would have involved her getting a (higher-paying) job at some other company.

  3. Coincidentally, I just re-read this story a couple of days ago. Charlton also did at least one other weight-themed romance story, "Chubby!" from SECRET ROMANCE #32. In that one the protagonist has some extra pounds but her boss has, heh heh, no objections. *drool*


    1. I vaguely remember that story. I also feel like DC did a story similar to "Fat!" though not as harsh. I will have to dig that one up.

  4. Such ironies here. In hindsight, we see in this story discrimination, sexism, sexual harassment, and just plain manipulative insensitivivty. But we also know now that being overweight is or can be significantly unhealthy, and some employers now are requiring employees to quit smoking, sign up for gyms, or otherwise giving incentives for employees to shed bad habits. Some of those devices are legal -- not all are discriminatory. The part I liked here is that the boss confesses that he knew she was beautiful "inside" and would be beautiful outside too if she shed pounds. It's a interesting twist on the him being "insensitive." However, by our lights, he certainly was manipulative. On the other hand, he must have fallen in love with her at first sight. Actually, there is some reality to that . . . as most men know.


  5. Mr. Kitty's Stupid Comics blog points out that much of the art from "Fat" was stolen from a DC story, "Heavy Date!":

  6. Wow, this comic is so messed up on so many levels. Where was the EEOC during this? LOL