15 January, 2007

Could You Be Less Black?

So I just watched this TV movie. It's a story about a girl who has a black mother and a white father. She happens to be light-skinned, and her brother is dark-skinned. She's very angry at her mother for being black. It brings shame on her to have the "darkest-skinned mother in the whole class" and she's very upset that the bills from her mother's Sickle Cell Anemia have racked up such debt that she, the light-skinned daughter, has no shot to go to college. (God forbid the daughter take out a student loan or three, like the rest of us have.)

At one point she starts yelling at her mother for encouraging her brother's blackness. "Do you have to let him listen to Hip-Hop music? It just emphasises his BLACKness to everyone. People don't like black people. It's hard to live in this world when you're black. You're just making it harder on him by encouraging his blackness."

Oh. No, wait. SORRY... That's my mistake. The mother and brother weren't black. They were fat. And the movie, Lifetime's Fat Like Me was one of the biggest cases of anti-fat prejudice **sponsored by Jenny Craig** that I've ever seen.

Skinny athelete Alyson loses a softball scholarship to a knee injury and decides to shoot for a film scholarship instead. She dons a fat suit, attends summer school and lives through 47 minutes of "woe is me" fat stereotype set pieces. It's like K-Tel's Greatest Fat People Hits, As Compiled On Oprah And The Weight Watchers Online Boards. Everything is here:
--The fat girl is asked to leave a clothing store that "sells nothing in her size."
--The fauxfat girl is only befriended by an actual fat girl and her 'fat-adjacent' friend. For the record I've never before heard the term 'fat-adjacent.' I assume it's the Aughts' version of "fag hag". Lovely.
--The Fat People (Mother, Brother, Fat Friend) are shown in numerous scenes eating high-sugar and high-fat food.
--The Fat Friend keeps a stash of candy bars in her glove compartment.
--People "moo" at the fat people and make rude comments about their fatness.
--The fat mom had diabetes.

For the record, I've never been moo'd at, to my knowledge. I don't keep hidden stashes of candy or cookies. I do not have diabetes.

Movies like this make me angry, because they purport to blow the lid of the stereotypes that they actually reinforce. All fat people hate themselves, are miserable, don't have boyfriends or girlfriends or spouses who love them. All fat people are depressed loners who cannot make friends outside their social groups. And fat people are only fat because they eat too much out of some gnawing emotional hunger. If only their parents would have hugged them, they would not be fat.

There are dozens of reasons a person becomes fat. Excess food consumption is only one of those reasons. Other reasons include genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalance, medication, pregnancy, physical limitations, excessive stress, excessive hours spent at work, increased sedentary time due to computer work and having a mate who is attracted to heavier men or women.

Not every person who is fat is an emotional cripple. Some people do gain weight as a result of depression. The best way to treat this is to treat the depression first, and address the weight as a symptom, not a root cause. But this movie made it seem like weight is an easily fixed abberation.

All you have to do is call Jenny Craig.


At 4:07 PM, January 15, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

Please, please tell me there was really a fat-associated kind of music in the movie. Pleasetell me that the brother had a Kate Smith poster up on his wall.

At 4:12 PM, January 15, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

No. Sorry. There WAS a tinkly sort of girl-folk emo kind of fat-girls-r-us poetry song about "nobody seeing the real me trapped inside" crap.

The music analogy was from the girl yelling at her mother (which, I'm sorry, would have gotten my butt grounded raw) to stop letting Fat Brother eat pizza instead of veggies with dip.

A) last time I looked, two slices of pizza were not the caloric end of the world.

b) not everyone who eats pizza gets fat.

c) Veggies with dip can be as calorie-laden as two slices of pizza, depending on the type of dip and amount consumed.

At 4:18 PM, January 15, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

Too bad. It just goes to show that the people who make these things not only are idiots, they also have no sense of humor.

At 4:57 PM, January 15, 2007, Blogger Aunt B said...

It was really sponsored by Jenny Craig?! I have never before felt like laughing and puking at the same time. How hilarious and gross!

At 5:46 PM, January 15, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I swear to you. If I heard it once I heard it 8 times:

"Fat Like Me: This Lifetime Original Movie is Sponsored by Jenny Craig."

If you really want puking hystericalousity, you should check out the on the set videos where the simpering actress giggles about not being able to fit in her trailer's bathroom and about knocking over everything with her fat body.

Yes, because EVERYWHERE I go I knock over people, small animals and objets d'art with my out-of-control lard.

At 5:48 PM, January 15, 2007, Anonymous Jill said...

Lifetime consistently shows the most disturbing movies in which disturbing things happen to women, which I find ironic since it is supposed to be the network for women. If you want to see some suburban mom or teenage girl abused, raped or murdered in some twisted way, check Lifetime most any night of the week.

At 8:40 AM, January 16, 2007, Blogger Exador said...

Lifetime: Making women feel shitty about themselves, so we can market to them.

I saw the ad for that, and immediately thought, Give me a freakin break. They so overplayed their hand. While I'm sure obese folks do get the occasional stare and whatnot, they had people treating that girl like there was an arm growing from her forehead.

At 10:56 AM, January 20, 2007, Anonymous Sis said...

Lifetime movie is an oxymoron.


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