Are Fat TV Shows Empowering or Exploitative?

Love thy fat, but not to the point where you stop trying to become healthy.


By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

As one who has suffered life-long from avoire du pois disease, I would say the answer to the question in the headline is, "Yes." Fat shows are both empowering and exploitative. But then, most of commercial cable TV is exploitation of one group or another, and with today's obesity epidemic, it's completely fashionable to exploit those who are overweight.

Apparently, these shows have hit the mother lode, and are ratings grabbers. My suspicion is all other genres have been so overdone and overcopied, the public will soon tire of fat shows, too:

Along with Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva" and Oxygen's "Dance Your Ass Off," "More to Love" is one of three shows premiering this summer that has everyone from CNN to the Onion puzzling over why pop culture is suddenly fascinated with fat. Are we looking to ridicule these people and feel better about ourselves? Do we need "thinspiration"? Are the 60-odd percent of Americans classified as overweight or obese just psyched to see people they can relate to for once?

I don't agree, however, that it's a "sudden fascination with fat." Remember Roseanne on ABC that launched 21 years ago and enjoyed a nine-year run?

Empowerment is a good thing for fat people. We shouldn't hate ourselves because we're overweight. But we should also not allow ourselves to be bolstered by impairing our own health. In other words, love thy fat, but not to the point where you stop trying to become healthy. A little bit of extra weight might be a good thing, as long as one exercises and keeps tabs on one's heart health and cholesterol levels. But morbid obesity can't be good for anyone.