Tag Archive | "More to Love"

For Richer or Poorer, for Thinner or Chubbier

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Luke and Tali

Let’s face it: the truly great moments in life are all too rare and precious.  So when such a moment comes along, as it did via the surreal medium of reality TV, it is that much sweeter. September 15, 2009 saw the end of Luke’s search for the perfect wife on More to Love.  So surprised and pleased was I with Luke’s choice that, for days after the finale, I found the image of those two young people so much in love burned into my brain like a vivid, cherished photograph.  Therefore, for those who may have missed the finale, I am going to tell you right up front which woman the bachelor selected as his life-partner.  He chose quiet, dark-haired, improbable Tali over the more obvious choice of Malissa.  And I am so glad that he did!


In the program’s premier episode, it was patently clear that, although a consummate gentleman to all twenty hopefuls, Luke had his favorites, and Malissa was at the top of that list.  He and the pretty, happy go lucky Malissa had locked lips, and perhaps more, early on.  Their sexual tension was almost palpable through the TV screen.  Tali, on the other hand, almost faded into the woodwork; indeed, viewers saw little of her until the program had begun to draw to its conclusion.  Malissa was the quintessential all-American; in fact, she was a Californian, like Luke.  This statuesque, blonde, buxom waitress was also Christian, as was Luke.  By comparison, dark horse Tali was beautiful in her own right, slightly exotic, and most assuredly Jewish.  Born and raised in Israel, she had relocated all on her own to New York City on what some would have termed a fool’s errand and what Tali thought of as a calling.


As the number of contestants dwindled, Luke met with their families.  Malissa’s two sisters did little to strengthen his notion that he had chosen wisely.  They divulged to the 330-pound Luke that their big sis had only recently gained the weight that enabled her to compete on the show, and Malissa made it evident that she viewed the show as a competition.  Worse, her siblings divulged that Malissa really did not like children. Although she tried to dance her way out of that one, Luke saw the handwriting on the wall; wanting a family of his own, was torn by these revelations.  But when he met with Tali’s aunt and uncle who were living Stateside, things looked even dimmer.


Tali’s uncle was a relative by marriage, a Gentile who had confronted friction and self-doubt by way of a family steeped very strongly in Judaism.  When Luke literally kissed the third contender, Mandy, goodbye, I shook my head, wondering what the heck he was thinking and what he was thinking with, to have narrowed the choices down to Malissa and Tali!


But Tali emerged quickly as my choice.  Luke absolutely loved the water; Tali feared it, despite having done her requisite turn in Israel’s Navy.  Knowing how much Luke enjoyed swimming and boating, she agreed to place herself in Luke’s hands as the couple snorkeled on their last date.  Wearing “water wings,” the lady conquered her fears and won my vote.  But things really heated up when both ladies were introduced, on separate occasions, to Luke’s divorced parents.


The would-be groom’s dad, brother, and grandmother were very cordial to Tali, who was a tad shy and very sweet, and who participated in saying grace over the barbeque.  The meal must have included pork, verboten in the Jewish religion. Tali was extremely gracious, even when Luke’s dad questioned her repeatedly about the religious differences.  But the family simply adored the beer-swigging Malissa, saying that she was like “one of the family.”  Push came to shove, however, when Luke’s mother showed up unannounced one morning, surprising the girls in their PJ’s.


During a one-on-one with Tali, Luke’s mom learned that Tali had set out, all on her own from a foreign land, to secure modeling jobs in New York City.  Her motive was and is to serve as a role model for young teens and indeed, anyone who may suffer from a poor self-image due to their weight.  More importantly, she also learned that Tali is more spiritual than religious, and that is what true faith is based upon.   Finally, Tali seemed to care genuinely and deeply about Luke and wished also for a family.  Tali had emerged as a strong, quietly confident, focused woman who would complement Luke perfectly.


But given the chance to tell Luke and his mother how she felt about him, Malissa never once spoke of her feelings.  All she said was, “I’m in it to win it” and boasted that she had made it thus far, into the final two.


When Luke finally went down on bended knee to ask Tali to be his bride, I feared she had changed her mind because the final interactions with the families had only heightened the issue of religion.  For a very long moment, Tali was speechless.  But when she finally found her voice and smiled a radiant “Yes!”, I cheered them on and have not quite stopped cheering.


All’s well that ends well!

More To Love


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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