So the media have got a little hot under the collar this week about a new coming of rage show due to be aired on Netflix this month called INSATIABLE. From what I can see on the trailer this is the story of a fat girl who is bullied (naturally!) and assaulted just before summer break which led to her jaw being wired and losing all her weight over the summer. She then shows up at school slim and looking like a prom queen going from Fattie Pattie to Hottie Pattie in 6 easy weeks! If only……
Now she is slim, she is visible, respected and has permission to take revenge on all the kids who bullied her before. This is all we can surmise from the trailer but to date there is a petition with over 200k signatures to ban it and every media outlet is hosting debates about it and how it is fat shaming blah blah.
It is clear from the trailer that it is fat shaming and yes the premise is you have to be slim to win, but to be honest if we banned every show on TV following this premise our screens would be pretty empty of content!
Fat is not the only issue teen girls (and boys to a lesser extent) are dealing with every day on and off line. The pressure to conform to a one size fits all image, promoted in every media channel every day is what is leading to mental health challenges, self-harming, bullying and eating disorders.
We consider ourselves a tolerant society but when it comes to appearance and identity we are way off the mark. We are tolerant if you conform to the norm and what is the norm? How many fat people do you see on mainstream TV? And I am not taking about morbidly obese people, you are considered fat or plus size if you are over a size 14, (which incidentally well over 75% of the population are?) so where are they? You would be lucky to find a fat person, particularly a fat female, on a soap, reading the news, hosting a chat show (Oprah is the exception), playing a leading role in a drama, advertising products (other than slimming aids) creating documentaries. I know some of you will be able to name some exceptions particularly funny girls like Dawn French (who has now slimmed down) Melissa McCarthy (who has now slimmed down) Lisa Riley (who has now slimmed down) and Rebel Wilson but if they are funny it is OK, just don’t expect to be portrayed as sex symbols or take mainstream roles anytime soon.
Fat seems to be the final taboo – Again I reiterate, we consider ourselves a tolerant, humane society openly embracing people with mental illness, learning and/or physical disabilities, eating disorders, gender confusion and drug and alcohol addictions but shame on you if you are fat! Fat people are positioned as lazy, out of control slobs who sit alone stuffing their faces with ice cream and donuts 24/7 just wishing they were thin. This is hogwash! Fat people are getting on with life like everyone else. They are holding down jobs, raising kids, educating our children, studying for careers, going to the gym and engaging in sport, hosting dinner parties, saving up for holidays and adventures and contributing to society. Fat people are so much more than a number on a scale – they are smart, kind, generous, creative, worldly, sexy, gifted human beings and do just as much to expect your respect as anyone else.
There are lots of reasons why someone ends up overweight, the multi-billion dollar diet industry is one, the presence of the now confirmed fat gene is another and surprisingly not all fat kids become fat adults and not all fat adults were fat kids. Go figure!
So please let’s stop this fear of fat. I am not suggesting we advocate obesity but vilifying kids for being fat very rarely acts as a motivator to diet it just makes them miserable and is the onset to other mental health issues. Nor does this change when you are a fat adult, you have to be resilient to rise above the constant abuse and have a very strong identity to dare to be successful and loved. I have not met a single human being yet who is not flawed in some way? Fat is simply a flaw, but a visible one, and one that seems to be fair game for all, so go easy.
And yes I speak as a fat person who was never a fat child but has struggled with my weight all of my adult life. Does it define me NO, does it make me any less worthy of being loved, respected or successful NO.