So at Fattitude we have decided that rather than gripe and rave about the media we see all week to each other – we are going to share our raves and rants with you! If you think there is something we’ve missed that we so have to see – let us know by either commenting below or messaging us on facebook!
Lindsey: So much on my plate this week and yet some how I was able to catch up with three new shows: Blindside, Quantico, and Limitless. Honestly – I was impressed with the overarching feeling that showing diversity is starting to matter. There are people of varying races, women and men in important positions and a general feeling that perhaps there is shift happening in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong here – the shift is subtle and still has a long way to go particularly because there are still an awful lot of white people in leads but…something’s brewing. (Interesting note – Quantico is perhaps the most impressive in the category of diversity. You should check out this article about how Quantico is more diverse that the real FBI. But that’s the goal right – change what we see so we can change what we can be.) Okay, that said…I was also struck by the complete invisibility of fatness. Literally, no one in these new shows is even marginally fat. In fact – every woman and man on all three of these shows presents as the very thin notion of cultural beauty. So – while those of us in body positive world may feel like we are seeing change – and we are seeing some – it is most often still on a very small scale. What I am trying to say is in general fat people are still largely culturally invisible when it come to scripted shows on television. And that’s a total bummer.
Viri: This week I was at a trivia night (the best!) that was Harry Potter themed (the double best!) and they asked, “What was the name of the woman in the painting at the entrance of Gryffindor?” Right away, my friend leaned back and proclaimed “Uh oh Viri” knowing my involvement with Fattitude and assuming that we were headed into offensive territory. The answer is “The Fat Lady.” That’s her name and not only did I say it proudly to show off my Pottermania, but I said it proudly because I find no offense. She is a fat lady. That’s a fact. I’m a fat lady. It’s a fact. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not analyzing the representation of the painting or what she does throughout the books or films, what I’m pointing out is that the term “fat” is a descriptor. Some people are fat, some people are thin and there shouldn’t be greater value awarded to either. Making Fattitude has helped me grow to a place where I embrace this and I couldn’t be more grateful. It was a giant first step in my body acceptance journey. For the record, we didn’t win trivia, but it certainly wasn’t due to a fat lady.
Amanda: Last week, I watched the movie “Grandma” in a theater. I knew little about the film, except that it had gotten good reviews. I LOVED it! It was refreshing to watch a film that focused on female relationships. While I might watch a movie that has few or no women in the main plot and not notice much, it’s startling to watch something exclusively about women. It surprised me. Moreover, I adored the fact that relationships with men – or the lack thereof – was not a main focus, nor was beauty. I thought the film very empowering and body positive, in that it was assumed that the audience would find these women and their development captivating not because of their attractiveness nor their ties with men, but because of their humanity. The female characters weren’t symbols, pawns, or other-halves: They were PEOPLE! What an idea!
Kairo: Okay my Fattractive people, since I’ve started this body positive journey I have become in tune to picking out bullshit when I see it. So has anyone heard of the Lifetime series “Living with the Enemy”? It’s a six-part series that started this summer with the FIRST episode being about…you guessed it, Fat Shaming. As much as I love that this is a topic that is allowing a platform for change in how the world views our beauty, I am so f$%@*#*% tired of the packaging they choose to use for delivery. While this episode featured two very strong women on opposites ends of the scale, they followed what I assume is a prerequisite for showing fat people on television. They have to sell the world on the premise of being fat is always unhealthy. The amazing BBW in this episode is the model Kristy Love who in most of the clips appear strong and proud of her body, who even states that she wants to show that “you being fat is not a death sentence.” All this is amazing right? Right! So why in the heck did we have to end her section of empowerment with her in a doctor’s office crying with the smaller framed woman, Michel, consoling her? Hollywood I am so over this rendition of fat people in your world.
Melissa Mc: Last week, one of my favorite franchises ever returned to TV – The Muppets. As a kid growing up in the early 80’s, The Muppets were a mainstay of my childhood, and I feel like the characters are as much a part of me as my freckles or my adorably chubby fingers. So needless to say, I’ve been excited about a new Muppets TV show for a while! And though I was hesitant at first, I grew to like the format this new show was going to take – a TV show about making a TV show, with cut-scenes to interviews with the characters. Kind of like 30 Rock meets The Office, but with the characters I’ve known and loved for decades! Sounds like a recipe for success! So, we’re now 2 weeks into this new show, and I will admit that, overall, it’s really pretty damn funny. But I have noticed one thing about the show that gives me pause. In both of the episodes, there have been overt fat shaming jokes made at Miss Piggy’s expense. Some might look at that and think “Well, she’s a pig, so….” but the thing about the Muppets is, the characters aren’t just anthropomorphic pigs, frogs, bears, etc. To me, and I’d argue, the vast majority of Muppets fans, the characters occupy a space that
is somewhat animal, somewhat human, and in many ways, representative of who we are. Miss Piggy is an especially iconic character who, though flawed, represents fierce feminism and body positivity, and the creators of this new iteration of the show are aware of that – with press interviews of the characters such as this and Miss Piggy receiving a feminism award from the Sackler Center earlier this year. So I find it jarring and insulting that within the first two minutes of the first episode, Miss Piggy is the butt of a joke that implies a cable from a wrecking ball wasn’t strong enough to hold her weight during a flying stunt. In the second episode, Piggy is having a tantrum, and the immediate assumption is that her tailor forgot to cut the tag out out of her dress and she’s upset because now she knows what size she wears. The Muppets have always had an edge to them, and even amongst the corniest of jokes, there has been a sense of intelligence to the humor. Resorting to fat jokes, and at the expense of a character who is known for being fiercely body positive and such a staunch feminist seems cheap and so beneath what the Muppets have always stood for. I’m not the only person who feels this way, and I’m hoping as the show grows up, so will its writers.
The Feisty Fox: Last Wednesday I was sitting on my couch yelling, “Don’t do it, don’t do it!” But in the season premier of Modern Family, the writers did it – went for the fat suit, and of course the fat jokes – anyway. Over and over. Andy, Joe Pritchett’s manny, believes he’s blown it with his true love, Haley. After shoving a couple cupcakes in his mouth, he leaves town for a few months. By the time he returns a few months later, he’s fat. For the rest of the episode, everyone is quite concerned with his appearance and the amount he’s eating. Are we not past this level of humor yet? Don’t answer that. I suppose Modern Family takes shots at everyone. Cam is portrayed as a flamboyantly gay, emotional eater. Gloria is mocked for her thick accent and references to the violent customs of her childhood in Columbia. Phil suffers from ADD, Claire is a helicopter parent, Jay is older and struggling with aging and Lily, adopted from Asia, always gets a few funny one-liners in each script referring to how her life began. The answer may be that on a show like that, no one is safe and that you need a thick skin to watch it. It’s all in good fun, right? Or is it?
Melissa M: As I was watching TV this week, I started to really pay attention to the advertisements I was seeing. In any given time slot, I saw a plethora of food, snack and beverage commercials for various chain restaurants, fast food joints and snack/candy companies. As expected, these commercials featured thin, smiling folks enjoying eating and spending time with friends. However, it made me wonder. If society holds the stereotype that it is only fat people indulging in ‘higher-calorie’ foods, why aren’t fat people in these ads? If the assumption follows that fat people are financially funding this market, why don’t we see fat people eating it? Hershey’s even has a tag line right now, “Hershey miniatures are mine, yours, our chocolate.” A seemingly inclusive statement, yet it has never made me feel that way. In fact anytime I do eat those types of food I feel like people are judging me. Don’t get me wrong, both fat and thin people get food-shamed and obviously thin and fat people alike are free to eat or abstain from candy in reality. But it just seems to add to the thin privilege list, and I would love to see plus-sized people in commercials NOT for weight-loss products and services.
Mandy: Last week I spent some time in an amusement park, which is not necessarily fat friendly, but can still be very fun! We visited Universal Studios which was really great, although I did have some trouble fitting on the Harry Potter rides to my dismay. I was super jazzed about Halloween Horror nights, a premiere Halloween event Universal does throughout September and October. One of of my favorite non haunted house parts of HHN is the shows. Every year they have the Bill and Ted show and this year did not disappoint. Bill and Ted are the same Bill and Ted from 80s movie about their “Excellent Adventure.” They travel in a phone booth time machine and generally create historical mischief. The show is updated every year to show current celebrities and events and is even self referential which I love. Without giving away too much people like Kanye and Doc Brown make appearances as well as the Barden Bellas from Pitch Perfect. This show was fun and crazy without being too mean to anyone and I especially liked that they included a bigger lady to play Rebel Wilson’s “Fat Amy” character. The same girl also played Melissa McCarthy throughout the show. What impressed me most was that they didn’t have her play out any fat jokes at all. They included her in all of the dance numbers and even the sexy dance scenes with male counterparts. It may not be much for Universal to have one single fat person in the show, but that girl killed it! She danced and sang just as well as every other girl up there. I hope that proves to Universal and other people watching that we are just as capeable! If the girl who played those characters happens to see this post- Damn lady! I hope you know how awesome you are!
SO – WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING OR DOING – AND HOW DO YOUR FAVORITES GET IT WRONG OR GET IT RIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO DIET CULTURE, FAT PEOPLE AND BODY LOVE????
* This blog post includes the opinion of Fattitude interns – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.