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.