More To Love

Posted on 03 August 2009


More To Love

Many people are carrying around a few extra pounds that they would like to shed, and for most of these people, the weight loss is fairly easy.  The other side of this coin, however, is stamped with an image representing people what Western society has dubbed in recent years as the “morbidly obese.”  While I’m not certain which medical, governmental, or perhaps Hollywood representative coined this term, I do know that, whether by design or ignorance (and my money’s on design), it places yet another bias upon those of us who struggle with our weight.  What would a foreign visitor to our country think of such a term?  Would he or she assume that we plus-size folks are carrying some type of lethal germ linked directly to the number that appears on our scales?  Would he or she shudder to sit one table removed from us in a restaurant, thinking that they too could gain extra weight by proximity alone?

 

The Constitution provides for our right to free speech (ergo, “morbidly obese”), but it also protects our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  It is difficult to pursue happiness, to say the least, when labels such as “morbidly obese” are allowed to flourish.  In a nation that launched itself, free of bigotry, by turning the Boston Harbor into a giant pot of tea, we have returned to bias full force in terms of the stout, portly, full-figured, pleasingly plump, and big-boned — which are terms that I am certain most plus-size people find less offensive than “morbidly obese.”  Weight prejudice may indeed be our last frontier of prejudice, and it is not subtle.  It is used to sell tons of products, however questionable (i.e., the caveat “Our spokesperson’s results are not typical”), bilk us out of money even when we’re not looking to buy anything, and rob us of our self-esteem.

 

However, we plus-size people now have a little weapon, or shall I say, we now have a dose of reality for the thin, “beautiful” people.  Oddly enough, this reality comes in the form of yet another reality show, Fox TV’s “More to Love.”  Of course, I tuned in to the premier show the other night, intrigued at seeing people such as myself represented in a medium that traditionally promotes unrealistically svelte, toned females.  The show opens, in fact by educating viewers that the AVERAGE woman in America is a size 14-16!  Yes, I said “the average woman!”

 

Although I myself am married, there was a time, particularly during my high school years, when no young man would see me for the person that I am, as no man was willing to look past my weight to the person I was inside.  The twenty contestants of “More to Love” are in the same boat, but none of them are married.  In fact, they all entered into this reality race as they’d felt that this was their last chance to meet a good man whose vision of feminine beauty runs deeper than physical attributes.

 

The bachelor waiting at the end of the rainbow seems a decent, fun-loving soul.  Luke is a reasonably good looking 26-year-old real estate developer who owns his own home, makes a good living, and yet has a hard time finding dates.  His only crime may be his address: he lives, you see, in California, sunshine home of too many thin, famous, famous-wanna-be, and plastic people.  Luke not only jumped at the chance to star in this show, he seems genuinely focused on finding his soul mate, or at least, a bride.  In his interactions with the twenty women, ranging from the curvy 6’2″ gal to the 5’2 lady whose scale reads something like 239 pounds and has never had a date, he seemed to find something truly beautiful and unique in all of them.  Complimenting them sincerely, Luke obviously raised the self-esteem of these hopeful ladies and turned around to crush five of them, in accordance with the rules of the show.  You see, he was compelled to eliminate five contestants at the end of the show’s premier.

 

While hope springs eternal for the remaining fifteen ladies, my heart goes out to those who had lost before they’d had the chance to love.  Will they return to their normal lives now buoyed up by the brief interaction with Luke and hopeful of other such meetings with decent men?  Or will they, in the words of one of the women sent home, close their hearts against future potentialities, having been hurt once too often?   And what else awaits these ladies of size as they return home?  If you are one of those fortunate people who struggles to lose a mere five or ten pounds, consider what we plus size people confront on a daily basis.

 

In addition to the lack of opposite-sex interaction, we are scrutinized more closely when interviewing for jobs that are given, more often than not, to thinner people (do your research and read the studies and statistics).  We are the last ones chosen for any type of sporting competition, including the mandatory ones we are forced into during our painful school days.   What comes easy to others, such as tumbling and running, are grueling to us, not to mention terribly embarrassing.  We miss our proms; we miss hanging out with the in-crowd who always looks so trendy in their fashionable threads.  We are bullied, threatened, and made fun of in public, as if we are deaf and mute.

 

When flying, we are charged in advance for the price of two seats, even though no one can predict if the seat next to us will be filled.  Taking in a movie, a play, or a concert is a bittersweet event, as we fear fitting into the seat or worse, sitting beside someone who will make snide remarks when we are all just trying to enjoy the performance.   We are selective in our choice of social events, eschewing those that require we bring a bathing suit and even those that feature buffet-type eating.  Admit it: you’ve looked at the chubby person on the buffet line, haven’t you, or rather, what they are putting onto their plate, but you didn’t give this same analysis to the skinnier people, did you?

 

The entertainment and fashion industries do not make it easier for you, do they, to say nothing of what they do to us!  The hot movie stars and the fashion models, particularly the women, are all willowy and gorgeous; they are airbrushed, hair-colored, professionally made-up, fashionably attired, spritzed with baby lotion, shot through filters, and whipped into shape by personal trainers (so much for reality).  In the SAG registry alone, the names of larger female actors are few and far between.  They include the Oscar-winning Kathy Bates, hip-hop singer-turned-actress and model, Queen Latifah, Sara Ramirez of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Camryn Mahein, Della Reese, Delta Burke, and Kirstie Ally.  As for the great male actors above average size, there is John Goodman (perhaps most famous for his role on “Roseanne”), Drew Carey, Jack Black, Jason Alexander who starred on “Seinfeld,” and the great and greatly missed John Candy, Jackie Gleason, and Orson Welles.  Note the preponderance of comic actors in that roster, as we also suffer from the stereotype that plus-size people are jolly and will allow the fat jokes to roll off their shoulders!

 

Hollywood, of course, has attempted to breech the weight gap with films such as “Hairspray” in which the plus-size girl succeeds despite great odds, and the currently running Lifetime Movie Channel program, “Drop Dead Diva,” in which a skinny, shallow girl is reincarnated into the body of a plus-size woman.  And Fox TV is to be commended for conceiving and running “More to Love.”  But, our society as a whole still makes snap judgments, and worse, upon people who must shop in plus-size clothing stores.

 

Think twice, please, when you encounter persons of weight.  Be courteous and follow the Golden Rule.  Don’t assume that we are all sitting in front of the TV, night after night, stuffing our faces.  Our weight might very well be a result of genetics, thyroid problems, necessity to take certain medications, or even a by-product of clinical depression, a disorder that challenges many thin people as well.  Judging us on our size alone is akin to judging someone based purely upon the color of their skin, their creed, their nationality, the color of their eyes, and other such factors that have absolutely nothing to do with our intelligence, our compassion, our creativity, our sense of humor, and our potential contributions, including our capacity to love and be loved.

 

Perhaps Luke, the unlikely hero of the most unlikely reality show, and the ladies that he will woo, will serve as the catalyst for showing the world that people of size are to be valued, trusted, and most of all, loved. 





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75 Responses to “More To Love”

  1. Gio says:

    Personally, I don’t think this show will do anything much to curb the bias against plus size people, particularly women. But it may be a start.

  2. Mercy Mercy Me says:

    If we were living in the days of the Renaissance or even when Renoir painted, we plus size ladies would be considered beautiful and desirable. I blame the people who hired Twiggy in the ’60’s (anybody remember her?) and held her up as a symbol of feminine pulchritude. Our society has never recovered, since that time, from the “ideal” that stick-figure women are sexy and gorgeous.

  3. Susan says:

    As Mercy notes, there was a time when large was considered beautiful. Consider the ancient carvings found at Stone Age sites of heavy, featureless women who present day scientists believe are loving representations of fertility deities. However, heavy people were generally rarities throughout the ages and up until fairly recent times as, for the most part, the food supply just did not support weight gain – unless you were wealthy and could afford the calorie dense foods and physically undemanding lifestyle that pack on the pounds. Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a place (the U.S.) and at a moment in time when food is rich and readily available to most with hardly any physical effort required to obtain it. How many of us would rather order a pizza delivered rather than prepare a healthy meal from scratch? For those individuals whose genetic blueprint or health issues predispose them to weight gain anyway, our wealthy lifestyle is a recipe for health disaster. I agree that it’s wrong to judge or make fun of heavy people regardless of why they became that way – they suffer in ways thin people can’t begin to imagine. Sadly, once a person becomes heavy, it’s incredibly difficult to successfully lose weight. However, unless there’s an underlying health reason, there’s really only one effective way to deal with overweight – eat less and exercise more.

  4. Darliene says:

    Let me first say this, I am fat and I am NOT suffering. I may be suffering from the high-minded moralistic attitudes of people who BELIEVE that life is all about being thin. I do not eat pizza every night, I eat healthy food, fruits, and vegetables and the only health issues I may have have nothing to do with me being fat. For anyone interested in another point of view, there is another way of thinking called, Health at Every Size (HAES). You can find out information about HAES on the web at Dr. Linda Bacon’s site http://www.haescommunity.org/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_at_Every_Size . For anyone interested in Dr. Bacon’s presentation on “thin privilege” go to http://www.lindabacon.org/Bacon_ThinPrivilege080109.pdf . For anyone interested in the discrimination against fat people and who is fighting for our civil rights as any size American, check out NAAFA at http://www.naafa.org.

    As for the show, More to Love, I did not watch the first episode because I was out of town. I have since watched the show and am hopeful. Although they were making an issue on the show by showing the ladies’ weights, they have since stopped doing that (happily). It appears to be much like the other Bachelor/Bachelorette shows. I appreciate Luke’s support of the ladies and making them feel as beautiful as they truly are. I am hopeful that the rest of the season will prove him to be a sincere person and to conduct himself in a positive manner. I will continue to watch and draw my conclusions later.

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