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Is Peer Pressure the Answer to Global Fat Acceptance?

February 18, 2013

So, I’ve got some HGTV home-makeover show on in the background while I’m working. It’s white noise, just keeping me company. And then I hear this:

Home-buying Lady: I’m never going to go out anywhere. I’m just going to stay at home all the time.

Contractor: Well, you won’t be able to leave, you’ll be so fat from all the pastries we put in here.

(Start at minute 39.)


Have you ever watched some old movie or television show and been taken aback by… oh, Judy Garland in black face, for instance (yes, that really is her)?

Something that is so not acceptable today that it seems shocking that it ever was? Something that, when you’re faced with it, just feels very, very wrong. That’s where we need to get with anti-fat antics. To the place where, even if someone wanted to do the size-ism equivalent of black face, it just wouldn’t be accepted outside of satire.

Clearly, we aren’t there yet.

Nearly every time I catch Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network, I hear him making some sort of self-depreciating, fat-phobic remark. A few days ago he was in some little hole in the wall somewhere, and the chef made a cheese-based appetizer. Guy took a bite, looked properly orgasmic, and then said something like, “You’re trying to ruin everything for everyone.” The meaning being, of course, that food that tastes good (and has cheese?) is designed to make people fat, which is life-ruining.

I feel like this is similar to how any time almost anyone not connected with the Fat Acceptance movement mentions really good food on my Facebook feed, it’s followed by a disclaimer about either A) guilt or B) a tale of self-denial of said yumminess. Only these shows are on a broad, national-TV scale.

It seems to me that things will start to change, rapidly, as soon as people stop accepting derogatory statements based on weight. Maybe then the average person can stop feeling guilty for being hungry or enjoying cooking or letting chocolate pass their lips. For instance, I couldn’t find anything on Google about Fieri making comments about fat, but he said something a while back about being “weirded out” by gay people and the interwebs are full of negative response to that. We need to foster the same kind of peer pressure toward body acceptance.

I admit to being a major optimist, but I think that we’re getting there. Slowly.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    February 18, 2013 11:03 am

    Man, that is so disappointing to hear, about HGTV. That’s one of the channels I like to watch because there isn’t rampant fat-phobia on it (that one and DIY) and I don’t have to deal with all the commercials about weight loss that are so prevalent on most of the other channels.
    I usually like watching Property Brothers, but really dudes, that lady’s going to get fat from eating all of those pastries on that one display? Do you guys really think that people have no self-restraint when faced with pastries? That they’d just have to eat all of them in one go? That’s the first time I’ve ever heard them make a comment like that, but come to think of it, in all the shows of theirs that I’ve watched, I’ve never seen a couple looking for a house where one, or both, of the couple is fat. Makes me wonder now what their criteria are for choosing people to be on their show – being fat must be one of the disqualifiers. Chalk up another show I won’t be watching.
    Yeah, I’ve given up on watching Guy Fieri – when my husband watches Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I start reading a book (I get so involved in what I’m reading that I don’t hear anything going on around me) so I don’t have to listen to his comments about how the food is “ruining” it for people (or whatever fat-phobic comment he has to make about it). He has another show on GSN (I think that’s where it is) called Minute to Win It and I won’t watch that one either, his whole attitude just grates on me now.

  2. Novathecat permalink
    February 18, 2013 11:55 am

    I did see an episode of “My First Place” on HGTV recently where both the house hunter and the realtor were fat. I have occasionally seen fat people on their various shows. HGTV is also good about showing LBGT couples and minorities.

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    February 18, 2013 12:30 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that in our consume consume consume society, we simultaneously have to ruin every human pleasure? We use sex to sell everything but so many women can’t enjoy sex because they’re too busy worrying about how they look. Food everywhere, but you’re not supposed to actually relish what you eat. Keeping people off-center, anxious, is very good psychology to keep them consuming and in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.

    I hope, too, that the day comes when we see body shaming as repellent, but I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

  4. violetyoshi permalink
    February 18, 2013 5:31 pm

    I just want to mention that I’ve found some people have become incredibly vicious over the comparison between fat rights and Black rights. It seems that some people can’t get it around their head it’s the same thing, but just not as blatant. We can’t shop at certain stores not because they put a sign up, but because they refuse to offer clothing in our size.

    Anyways, I’m just letting you know, this isn’t to say Black people are aggressive as I know that’s a stereotype they are faced with. I’m saying, I had a woman on Tumblr call me a racist for suggesting that asking fat people to become thinner, poses just as many health risks as asking a darker skinned person to use face bleach. The facts are if they were to do that their skin would become lighter, but at the cost of their health. How is that different from the notion that fat people ruin their health by becoming thinner?

  5. Elizabeth permalink
    February 19, 2013 12:48 pm

    violetyoshi, I would not say what you are saying is racist. You are trying to make a point about judging people by their appearance, if I understand you correctly. That said, I am currently reading The New Jim Crow, and what African-Americans have had to face in this country is sometimes beyond comprehension (slavery; Jim Crow, which included forced labor; and now the mass incarceration of black men). Yes, fat people face prejudice in all sorts of ways, and the intersection of race and size is quite interesting because now society can point to fat black people (women) and shame them doubly.

    Fat people do get a lot of crap, but this fat person throws it right back and doesn’t have to worry about being lynched or jailed for doing so. And I have yet to be stopped for Driving While Fat. Has anyone had that happen to them?

  6. Fab@54 permalink
    February 22, 2013 8:51 am

    OK, I just can’t get too pissy about this ONE teeny tiny comment within the context of a full 30 minute show.
    Yes, it was sorta, kinda, almost a fat-phobic comment. But really? It didn’t offend me in the least. Why? Well, I’ve been trying to sort through my brain and logically decide why I’m not terribly offended…. here’s what I came up with:

    The comment was aimed (more) at the ridiculously high pile of sweets and pastries they set up. The end result (the completed renovation) is always – ALWAYS – perfectly ‘staged’ and set up to look like a magazine spread in the HGTV magazine itself.
    Everything is placed, adjusted, dusted, polished, and positioned perfectly – right down to the drapes being just right, to the pillows being plumped and top-creased just a bit, to the 47 fruits & veggies in the hanging basket, to the drying herbs hanging down amongst the sparkling new copper bottom pots n pans on the new pot rack….. everything is staged and ready.
    And honestly- sometimes it really IS ridiculous or very unrealistic looking…. as was that stupid serving dish with at least 30 pastries piled on it! His comment was about eating “ALL these pastries we have set up here…” in turn, I took Johnathan’s comment (or was it Drew’s?) to be simply about the hugely overdone pastry set up, not particularly the idea that fat people eat pastries, or eat pastries and become fat.

    OK, maybe I am just choosing to see it that way because I do really like this show. ?
    Could be. But hey, I find soooo many other things WAY more insulting and disrespectful towards fat people every single day. So, unless it happens again, I think I can let this one slide….

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