Reader Rachel let me know about a new show called “My Big Fat Revenge” where women are encouraged to lose weight to “get revenge” on people who bullied them for being fat. Here are some quotes from the press release:
After being discounted, humiliated, and rejected because of their weight, these women are ready to take control of their lives, put their painful pasts behind them, and finally stand up to the people who inflicted the hurt.
The premiere episode features Jennifer, who met Hiren on a plus-size online dating website. At first Jennifer thought she was living her fairy-tale romance with a man who accepted her, but Hiren soon started suggesting she lose weight, dye her hair blonde and change other physical characteristics. After never introducing her to his friends or family, he finally told her they could never truly be together because she was fat
For these transformed women, this is their golden opportunity to settle their scores and hopefully get the apologies they deserve.
From their intense workout regimens to dietary changes and weigh-ins, the [companion] web series will reveal the powerful transformations and show how the two women featured in that week’s episode lost the weight and found their confidence.
I was contacted for this show – or a show like it. they didn’t give me a name – and I asked the PA what the weight loss had to do with it. She said it was “the point.” I said that if I were going to confront my bullies I would demand an apology because they were wrong to bully me and that it had nothing to do with my weight then or now. She said she didn’t think I was a fit for the show. No kidding.
I’ve seen this done on talk shows and I’m not a huge fan of revenge shows for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I’m not sure if someone who would meet a woman on a plus-size dating site and then not be willing to date her because she is fat is going to be capable of grasping the message. It can also do more harm than good for the person who was bullied when it turns out that they have been thinking about this incident and that this bully has been affecting their life since 10th grade but the bully doesn’t even remember being their lab partner.
Even if I was excited about an “eye for an eye” revenge show, the women losing weight has literally nothing to do with it. The show would work perfectly well without the dieting, and mixing weight loss with confronting bullies comes dangerously close to suggesting that weight loss should be the cure for social stigma when, in fact, ending social stigma is the cure for social stigma. I do not think that losing weight is getting revenge on someone who bullied you for being fat – I think that it’s the equivalent of giving the bully your lunch money and then insisting that they apologize for demanding it.
It also sets us up for having to deal with people saying “See, bullying ultimately lead to these people “getting healthier” (because people are confused that weight loss and health are the same thing) so bullying fat people is a actually a great idea, and for their own good – giving people and corporations another chance to be “brave” and make the sacrifice of bullying fat people. This is not hypothetical, it’s already happened. People are allowed to do what they want for the reasons that they want, but I think making a television show about this is wrong.
Finally, this show, like all weight loss shows, is setting these women up for all kinds of later issues. First, by reinforcing the information that changing one’s body size is the same thing as, and the only way to, improve one’s health. Then by encouraging and cheering short term weight loss which at this point everyone should know almost always ends in weight regain. Finally by tying their “confidence” and willingness to stand up to poor treatment to being thin. None of this is doing them, or anyone else, any favors.
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