the "fat like me" show
October 27, 2003 09:05 PM

About a minute and a half into this show, I realized I couldn't turn away from it. It was pissing me off that much. And if I'm going to tolerate this much pissoffitude, you need to hear about it, too.

So, live from my bedroom, where I have a bit of a cold, my thoughts on this hour of television.

8:02. The Fat Like Me show is on. A fifteen year old girl apparently has it all - looks, weight, and something else. Meredith Viera is sort of mumbling.

She's (the girl, not Meredith) trying on a pair of foam pants that make her look like she's made of solid foam rubber. Can't anyone make a fat suit that looks like an actual fat person? She's supposed to weigh 200 pounds? How tall is she, three foot two?

Seriously, they have this girl in like 100 pounds of foam. If she were a real person with real bones, muscles and fat, she'd be a complete couch potato. Like no muscles, just fat. What the fuck?

Someone makes fun of her and she's about to cry in the car. She's fifteen. I don't think she's feeling the experience of being fat - she's just fifteen, and in a new freaky situation. I feel for her.

Oh. My. God. If you didn't see this show, you have to go find a picture of this girl in her fat suit. She is the most desperate, pathetic looking kid I've ever seen. Are those glasses from 1972? Oh, god, I can't imagine how hard it must be to be this dorky looking on your first day of school. Fat or thin wouldn't make much difference. The striped blouse? Even stereotypes of librarians haven't worn blouses like this since 1982.

8:12. Apparently Meredith Viera once was - gasp - 30 pounds overweight as a kid. She looks pretty cute in that little red coat. Am I supposed to care?

But hey, at least they're talking to actual fat kids now. This is better. They're talking about isolation and how crappily fat kids' parents talk to them and blame them. And they're interviewing a family who are becoming active and eating healthily in order to make their fat kid less fat (don't know if it'll work, but at least they're all living better).

8:25. I'd never believe a man who tells people how to eat and exercise was once a fat kid, apparently (that's what they tell me). His dad had a stroke (the trainer guy's dad, I mean). He wasn't really much of a fat kid - maybe a bit pudgy in these pictures, but not fat. So I'm not shocked he's found a way to lose and keep off weight.

Another family learning how to eat better. Parts of this show are remarkably positive. But no one's talking about what happens if the kids don't lose the weight on these new plans. Do the families stick to them? Or do we ship them off for bariatric surgery?

There's a woman talking about how kids have "what we call crossed wires" (meaning they don't express emotions). There's a twelve year old talking about how "nothing ever tastes as good as thin feels".

This show is officially depressing me.

Ah, VH1 is doing 1987 (Raising Arizona! Princess Bride!) again tonight. I liked that "Beauty and the Beast" show with Linda Hamilton. A few years ago, I kept trying to stay up late to watch it on Oxygen or Pax or something, but then they moved it from 11 to 1 in the morning. That's past my bedtime on school nights.

8:35. Back at it. More than halfway through it! Huzzah!

I have never seen so many creepy ass shots in one show, ever. I think they're trying to tell me that girl over there is fat. If her ass is any measure, she wears about a size 8 and is maybe 14. Is that fat? Hell, I don't even know.

They're talking about the BMI report card school district. This mom is cute as a button. Huge health risks my ass! Speaking of ass, here are more anonymous ass shots. Hey, where did that little fat butt get those cute corset-laced jeans?

The not-fat girl is babbling about taking it for granted and how horrible it is to be handicapped with fatness. She really wants everyone to know she's not really fat. She's wearing normal clothes, much better. But she's still wearing the horrid 1972 glasses; they have a camera in them.

She's upset that as a new kid, no one paid attention to her. She thinks it's because she's fat. Maybe, but she's also, you know, fifteen, and wearing the worst outfit ever. Kids are mean as hell, you remember. Not that they can't also be sweet, but they can be mean little buggers.

My partner thinks that fat fixation is emblematic of our culture of fear. Parents and teachers focus on childhood obesity because we all feel like we don't have any control over all these other factors in kids' lives.

8:45. Ali (fat suit girl) thinks that the reason people made fun of her or didn't talk to her is only that she was fat. She can't trust them. Welcome to high school, sweetheart. Am I being too cynical? Is she from some sort of crazy world? Maybe she's just really popular at her school. I don't understand how she can't have ever been picked on. The way she talks, though, it's very fifteen. I totally feel for her.

A fat girl (who is damn fine looking, by the way), is explaining that she couldn't stand up for the pathetic dork in the fat suit because, hello, high school. Good point.

A fat guy doesn't want to be reminded that he's fat. Everyone looks really silly in bright colored life vests. Meredith thinks that the fat suit girl lost her self esteem just cause she was in a fat suit. A random thin girl is crying about a fat girl's story. See, what I said about kids being sweet, it's true.

An ugly kid made fun of fat suit girl in the cafeteria. He's not ugly, really; he just looks like he belongs in some sort of British steel town, which makes him a freak in the southwestern US. He looks like he gets beaten up a lot. I bet the stories these fat kids are telling hit home for him.

8:55. How is the fact that fat kids get picked on supposed to teach me that obesity is a problem? What it teaches me is that fat is considered a difference and, like any difference, is something that gets kids picked on. And guess what happens when we talk about the "obesity epidemic"? That's right. Those kids are seen as even more different, even more to blame. And they get picked on more.

Would you tell a kid to just not be Jewish? Not be near-sighted? Not be gay? Well, you might tell a kid not to be gay, but that would make you an asswit.

So. To summarize.
The teasing and social interaction components of this show brought in an array of experts who apparently have never been or associated with fifteen year old kids. That was foolish.

I have to say, the healthy lifestyle stuff wasn't bad. It's not unreasonable advice - namely, get out and exercise and try to eat healthy food. But how do we as a culture deal with all the cases of people who do those things and don't become acceptably thin? Do we just ignore them? Blame them?

As a blow for the fat revolution, the show is neither here nor there. Even with its emphasis on understanding the fat is the last acceptable thing to make fun of, it still comes out on the side of the "obesity epidemic" that isn't.

Sigh. But at least you can say you got live reportage from the street.

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your wicked thoughts

I'm just watching it now. It's great for me to read along with you. But I'm so angry I think I'm going to lose my mind.

these are the thoughts of Tish on October 28, 2003 01:28 AM

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