“That Lean and Hungry Look” – Suzanne Britt Jordan
Julius Caesar stated “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look, he thinks too much; such men are dangerous.” Cassius’ “lean and hungry look” unsettled Julius Caesar, who preferred the company of fat, contented men whom he believed were more trustworthy and appreciative. When we think of heavier people, we think that they are nice because they have nothing to be mean about and typical thin people will be stuck up and rude to the heavier person because they do not see that heavier person for who he really is. This is a stereotype; heavier people are not necessarily jolly, and thin people are not necessarily mean or stuck up. Stereotypical attributes have had a negative effect on society, since the way we form impressions of others has been based on news, media and music. These superficial aspects have told us how one should look and how one should dress, so when we see someone who does not accept and follow society’s standards we criticize and judge them. These setbacks in society prompts, writer, Suzanne Britt Jordan, to write the informal argument “That Lean and Hungry Look” which effectively reverses a well-established cultural stereotype and judges the thin person rather than the fat person, to prove that there is a benefit to being heavier and that heavier people are more fun to be around than thin people. The overall theme of this argument is the importance of happiness; you do not have to be thin to be happy, and you do not have to be heavy to be happy. Happiness should come from whatever you decide makes you happy, whether it is a sundae or jogging around the block. The strengths of this engaging argument lie in its appeal to the audience, effectiveness of humor, comparison-contrast, connotations, language, relevance, as well as biases.
To begin with, the predominant tone of Jordan’s article is one of humor. This humor is the most important and significant aspect of the article because, it allows Jordan to address a deeper concern. Her humor is evident when she says things like, “If God was up there, fat people could have two doughnuts and a big orange drink anytime they wanted.” She says this to build up the heavier person, because she is speaking in regards to logic. Jordan uses humor in this article to entertain as well as effectively persuade. She is trying to get her readers to understand that the perceived notion of thin being beautiful and fun is in many ways fallacious; life should be enjoyable regardless of size. The humor of the argument allows her to prove a point and at the same time, does not distract from the argument. Jordan’s humor entertains and allows the audience to laugh when they see themselves in the vivid descriptions she uses. The strength of humor in the article is to subliminally show the audience that thin is not perfect and that there is always lack within people who believe this.
Secondly, in ‘That Lean and Hungry Look’, Jordan uses comparison-contrast to effectively prove her argument. This is a significant viewpoint of Jordan’s article, because it presents each item of comparison and then talks about her two subjects (in this case, thin and fat people) as they relate to the point of comparison. Jordan begins her comparison of thin and fat people with a reference to Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, when she states at the beginning or the article, “Caesar was right. Thin people need watching. I’ve been watching then for most of my adult life, and I don’t like what I see.” Caesar means that Cassius looks dangerously dissatisfied, as if he were starved for power. She agrees with Caesar’s statement, which is why she states that he was right in her first sentence. This allows Jordan to successfully get her view across, the strong first sentence and clear thesis allows the readers to smoothly walk through her article. In “That Lean and Hungry Look”, Jordan compares thin and fat by their different personalities; she uses a point-by-point...
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