As if you needed any more proof that our society looks down on fat people, just walk into a clothing store tailored towards large clientele. First of all, they all have condescending names like “Casual Male”, as if a euphemism for “fat lazy fuck” is better than just using the word “big”. You walk in look at the shirts, and you have a choice between a vastly overpriced bowling shirt with flames on it and a vastly overpriced T-shirt with a dog drinking beer on it. The message is clear: the hefty are a lower class of citizen that deserves a lower class of clothing.
Fatty Girl Goes to New York presents another perfect example of this. Two sisters living in a small Italian village are different classes of human being because one is skinny and the other one is fat. The skinny hot one is a roller skating beauty pageant contestant rocking high end fashions (if you consider garish 80’s trash aesthetic “high end”), but the fat one (Miris, played by Italian pop star Rettore wearing a fat suit, probably because they wanted an Italian pop star to play the role but they are all skinny) wears to bed something that looks like a cross between a silk air balloon and an extremely low rent clown suit, like if a fat clown that nobody respects is being used as a hot air balloon. She is later saddled with unflattering overalls (I mean, more unflattering than wearing normal overalls). This is the cross that the portly bear.
As you might imagine, a fat polkadotted clown is going to be the butt of jokes in an era of high fashion and sweaty discotheques. People call her “Cicciabomba”, which I believe is Italian for “waddling porker”. It’s also fun to say, so I’m going to call her that for the rest of the review. Her sister also teases her, and Cicciabomba responds by slapping her with greasy velocity, comedically amplified with that over the top Italian slap foley usually reserved for the scene where the rugged Italian cop on the edge violently slaps a suspect to force him to confess. There’s even a local waiter who teases her on her way to high school, but Ciccia (for short) keeps distracting him in such a way that he tumbles and drops a tray with nine glasses, as per the waiter comedy handbook.
Ciccia responds to insults with violence, whether directly or indirectly, and the outcome for her is always positive. This is best exemplified in the scene where her transvestite/Marilyn Monroe impersonator friend Bimbo is being picked on by three local toughs for being a “faggot”. Ciccia comes to the rescue and throws haymakers with violent authority, like a pre-Foreman Grill George Foreman knocking out several miniature Fonzie impersonators.
This sends a worthy message to any young people watching that few movies have the balls to send. That is, the best way to deal with people who incessantly mock you or others is to punch them in the face. Give them one or two warnings at least, and then let it fly, and people will eventually stop fucking with you. I know that a fat insult and a punch are not karmically equal, but I think three fat insults is more or less equal to a palm strike to the bridge of the nose. If you’re worried that your punching technique is subpar, you can always substitute a suitable weapon, like smacking somebody in the face with a Trapper Keeper. Teen suicide is rampant, and I think we need some clever solutions to help curb the problem, as opposed to ineffective pop songs employing outdated slogans. Also, you know those horrible douchebag grown-ups who think they are better than everyone else? Nobody punched them in the face in high school. It’s a win-win on multiple levels.
One such douchebag is studmuffin asshole Mirko, who is dating Ciccia’s sister. Ciccia falls for him, and he uses this as an opportunity to pretend to like her despite wanting to punch her in the face for being a “fat hippo”. He cruelly breaks her heart and then plays her love confessions over the school PA. This sets the table for revenge in perfect 80’s high school comedy fashion. My favorite thing she is does later on is to convince Mirko to wear a bizarre leather S & M outfit, convincing him that it’s “high fashion” (it is in certain places, but not in the manly straight world of early 80’s Italy). This is very apt revenge, as douchebags hate being called “gay” more than anything else in the world, so afraid they are of the implications of the Kinsey scale.
Naturally, Ciccia wants to get out of her small, boring provincial town and their hateful attitudes towards the portly. She works at the local radio station, and even that is run by the Catholic church, the ultimate fun police. Not only is Slayer probably a no-no, but Ciccia even gets in trouble for playing an innocuous fluffy Italian pop tune, one of several seriously catchy ass songs in the film. They threaten that she’ll be replaced by a nun who only plays Beethoven, but she wants to jam with The Police. To think there was a time when authority figures flipped their lid when they heard “De Do Do, De Da Da”, as if civilization was crumbling before their very eyes. If that wasn’t bad enough, the only disco in town IS ONLY OPEN ON EVEN DAYS! For shame. Then again, maybe if you’re into the hardcore coke fueled discoing, a day off between gyration orgies to rest up might be a good idea.
If that wasn’t enough, her crazy grandma lives with her. She has a yellow bird named Julio Iglesias, but changes his name one day to Mao Tse-tung because he’s yellow. Later, the canary falls into a vat of ink somehow, and she renames it Cassius Clay. That’s pretty fucking funny. She should write jokes for Dice Clay. However, living with that everyday would prove really annoying. The Diceman might be hilarious from afar, but how funny would he be if he was your roommate? I rest my case.
Her life clearly sucks to high heaven, but light finally shines upon her in her darkest hour. She decides to end her own life because nobody loves fat people, but first…COOKIES! Everyone gets their last meal before their final walk, and this is no different. The box of cookies is not the shining light of which I speak (although it is pretty great to be able to eat an entire box of cookies without the burden of consequence), but rather the fact that she finds a Willy Wonka-esque ticket in the box that grants her a vacation to…NEW YORK CITY! Americans are fat after all, so maybe this is where she’ll finally be able to fit in. Ciccia responds by proclaiming “I’ll kill myself another day…I won first prize!” The power of positive thinking.
Lo and behold, she's in New York riding a subway escalator when a Baroness (Ursula Andress) spots her and decides to make her a star. You see, she is looking to market a weight loss drink and Cicciabomba is the perfect spokesmodel, a before and after example to captivate the masses. However, Ciccia doesn’t initially lose weight despite constant running and only drinking the shake for her daily sustenance, which is made out of swordfish bone extract (yum!). The Baroness’ assistant figures it out when he catches Ciccia shoving a hot dog down her throat while jogging, and he chastises her by saying “now we know the truth about the elephant woman!”. Well, that’s a subtle way to put it.
Once hot dogs are properly vanquished from the diet, Cicciabomba turns into…HOT SKINNY POP STAR RETTORE! She sings songs and dances around, but most of all, changes into a new mindblowing 80’s outfit every seven seconds. Ciccia said she was happy being fat, but she certainly enjoys being able to wear whatever fashion she sees fit, using this as an opportunity to take the 80’s excess fashion ball and run with it right into the end zone and past the goalposts and into the stands and out the parking lot. That exemplifies another message in the movie; being fat is sorta okay, but try to lose the weight if you get around to it or if opportunity knocks.
Along the way, Cicciabomba turns from bumbling hippo into post-disco Madonna (or pre-Madonna Madonna), inspiring not only the audience (well, me) but also a group of not fashion model female friends to join together against the tyranny of machismo with the “Club of Strong Women”, probably punching dudes in the face who make fun of their grandma sweaters (feminism in action!). She also inspires her friend Pinocchia (it’s an Italian thing folks) to get a nose job. I know I bemoaned plastic surgery in my last review, but this is a case where I think it’s okay. You see, plastic surgery is often used to fit some idealized notion of beauty, and that’s what I have a problem with. The end result for her is a regular looking nose and not a nose job nose, if that makes sense. It's really a case of her fixing a strange deformity rather than an attempt to beautify herself. Maybe this seems like a wobbly distinction, but I'll go ahead and make it anyway.
The point is that we should be able to CHOOSE the type of freak we are and not necessarily the one we're born as, whether that means losing weight or dying one's hair or chopping off a prosthetic nose, but these changes should be borne out of self-expression and not because we want to get an acting job or impress others by getting the fake tits or the George Clooney rug. In closing, I think Cicciabomba would agree that we should all get our freak on and fuck the haters.