Better Representation —
I have a longer post coming tomorrow, but for today I thought I would share some interesting developments.
On April 17th, I got an email from a casting company asking if I’d help them put out the word that they’re casting for a new reality show about a fat family. I get these kinds of requests from time to time, and I usually respond with a kind of “thanks but no thanks” because of the exploitative nature of television. While there are some great shows that star amazing, positive fat characters (I’m looking at you, Miranda), the stock fatty thrown into most shows is either self-loathing or stupid or desperate a bully. And when it comes to reality television, the urge to sensationalize fatties comes naturally.
I responded to Sirens Media and said that while I’d like to help, I was concerned about exploitation. I was assured they would not be exploiting their subjects, of course, since nobody would say up front, “Hey, can we make you dance like our little, fat monkey?”
So, I posted it on the Facebook because I think people can decide for themselves whether they want to have their lives subjected to reality show editors. Pretty much everybody (including myself) was like, “No fucking way.”
Fast forward a week, I get an email from Sirens again asking if I’d speak with their casting director, Roxane Davis, about the show. I agreed because how can I complain about a lack of representation in television if I turn down offers to be at the table.
We had a nice conversation a few days ago, and I explained my concerns and what I felt were the concerns of many, and she listened to me blather on for quite a while. She reassured me that their intentions are to feature a family in the same way that the show Little People, Big World does. The show may be voyeuristic (the merits of which are debatable), but according to Gary Arnold, VP of Communications for Little People of America, the show has a positive effect on those with dwarfism:
We are pleased that reality programming on The Learning Channel portrays people with dwarfism pursuing a wide variety of professions, from doctor to business person to candy maker. We hope that such programming empowers others with dwarfism to pursue their interests and that such programming sends a message to the general public that dwarfism, something we take pride in, is just one component of who we are.
My hope for this show is that it does something similar for fat people: portrays a fat family that is not bounded by the limits imposed upon them by the cultural bias against fat people. If Sirens Media is honestly, legitimately interested in doing something like that, then I would rather get behind it and help them find a great family to follow, or at least give them ideas on how not to be another shitshow about fatties.
This is why I’m posting the casting call on our blog. I’m throwing my support behind the show because I think that Roxane and Sirens Media know that if they exploited the family they choose, we would bring down the Wrath of the Fatties on them so quick that their sponsors crap their pants.
So, if you are interested and, as I said, are willing to take the risk of placing your family in hands of reality show editors, feel free to contact Roxane and ask her questions, and research Sirens Media.
Roxane Davis Casting and a Major Cable Network is currently searching for FAMILIES who are LARGER THAN LIFE. We want to portray the stories of fat people in the tradition of My Mad Fat Diary, Huge and Roseanne — featuring a tight-knit family and a cast of characters who are comfortable in their own skin. As critics and conflicts come and go, these families remain bound by love and fun! If you have an XXL family living out the maxim that bigger is better, WE WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY FROM START TO FINISH. Our show will reflect the style of Little People, Big World, allowing your family to define what itself in a world that is so often hostile toward fat people.
Please send photo, all contact info and a bio of each member of your immediate family, including age, job, and the struggles, and successes, endured due to weight stigma. APPLY TO firstname.lastname@example.org Subject Line: My Mad, Fat Life!