Currently on Australian television, there are at least two anti-fat (fatphobic?) shows screening. Sure, this kind of thing has been around for years. But amazingly, they seem to be reaching new lows on the encouraging body-hate front. Yes, this year’s Biggest Loser program (as if it isn’t bad enough that they make everyone’s stated aim to be a “loser”), is all about the “singles”. That is, those people who supposedly can’t get a date because of their weight (cos like, no one wants to date a fattie right?).
Since when did being weighty make you unloveable? It seems like a lot of the people on these shows have major self esteem problems, that actually probably go hand in hand with their weight gain due to some other reason. But rather than dealing with those kind of underlying factors, the aim of the game is to lose lose lose and be a normal skinny person – hooray! And rather than getting fit and stopping at some still full and voluptuous weight, these people are encouraged to keep going until they practically fade away. And I’m pretty sure that for most people, a “normal” weight range (whatever that means) is actually pretty vast. I downloaded an app the other day that told me I could literally put on another 20 kilos and still be a “healthy” weight.
It turns out these TV shows sure ain’t the only fat-hate going down at the moment. The recent Strong4life campaign being run in Georgia USA has been advertising a serious war on children’s weight. Apparently you can’t actually be a kid now if you’re fat- as one Strong4life tagline tells us, “being fat takes the fun out of being a kid.” This argument reminds me of the whole “we have to correct intersex conditions or those kids will be incessantly teased”. It seems to me like when we run campaigns that say what’s okay and what’s not okay, or perform surgeries to reinforce what is “normal”, well, actually that’s bullying- through defining what is normal in the first place.
Somewhat hearteningly, there has been a backlash against Strong4life called “Stand4kids” (not to be confused with the terrifying missionary group of the same name) which aims to target weight bigotry (you can join them on Facebook here).
When it comes down to fat-hating TV (and lets be honest, most of the film and television industry is pro-skinny), I think we have to take a hard look at ourselves and ask where the enjoyment for these shows comes from. Maybe it’s interesting to watch before and after journeys. Maybe it’s that we want to watch people struggling to exercise and eat well, just like we all do. Or, maybe it’s just that we want to watch some “freaks” get tortured and shamed for being “different”. Oh dear.
But the more I look around me, the more I notice curvy chicks oozing confidence and being proud of their bodies. And why shouldn’t they be. What I wouldn’t give for some cleavage…