Extreme fat hate in “Fat and Fatter”

UPDATE: As stated in my Comments Policy, “A range of views expressed in civil discussion are welcome – providing commenters adhere to the other guidelines.” However, as per the Comments Policy, please ensure your comments do not verge into the territory of Intolerance or Hate Speech or Concern Trolling.

I have just written the following feedback to the ABC in response to last night’s screening of “Fat and Fatter”, a tabloid program masquerading as a public health notice in which 2 young British girls are flown to Missisippi (“the fattest state”) to be terrified into losing weight by seeing fat black women (OMG!). It’s as bad as it sounds. No, actually, it’s worse. It’s exteme fat hatred with a side-serve of racism, and I for one will not take the ABC’s screening of it lying down.

If you truly want to see the carnage for yourself, “Fat and Fatter” can be seen on ABC’s iview replay. Two notes: 1. only plays in Australia and 2. Exteme fat-hate. As they say, sanity points required.

If you can’t view that due to your location, here’s a review of “Fat and Fatter” from The Age.

Here’s the body of my (somewhat hastily written) feedback to the ABC:

“Fat and Fatter” is the most offensively fat-hating program I have ever seen – and worse, it masqueraded as ‘helping’ two young girls, when in reality it was just a freak show with scare tactics thrown in. No doubt this was someone’s misguided attempt at a ‘public health notice’, but that’s not an excuse. Fat nd Fatter is just not up to ABC’s normally high broadcast standards, and I am appalled that the ABC even considered obtaining screening rights to this exploitative tabloid show, let alone actually going so far as to screen it.

Without even discussing whether or not the “you are fat, you are going to die” message in the show is accurate (ha!), exagerated or flat-out false, the ‘information’ shown in the program was presented in an extremely biased way. For example, just in the first 30 seconds we have some incredibly judgemental body shots – and it gets worse from there. Fish-eye camera shots of fat people eating. Cameras that pan up and down people’s bodies.

But there is also deliberate misinformation. An example is the scene with the woman on dialysis, where the necessities of hemodialysis are presented as being due to her weight and size. She tells the girls about the canula that was put in her chest and also gets the girls to feel the (possibly collapsed) fistula in her upper left arm (She doesn’t call it that, but it is when she says “can you feel the blood swirling in there”). The woman’s flesh around her upper arm is scarred and bumpy, which is at least partly due to the fact that a fistula has surgically been created for dialysis purposes. The girls’ disgust is visible when they have to touch it.

My layperson’s understanding of a dialysis fistula – based on my experience with my partner’s dialysis – is that it is a surgical procedure which splits an atery and a vein and rejoins them together to create a larger, stronger blood vessel which can withstand the dialysis needles and blood flow. Sometimes, over time, the fistula fails and alternate means of dialysing needs to be found – for example the chest canula or a new fistula created in another place (in this case, in the woman’s right arm which was attached to the dialysis machine.

What a fistula is NOT is – as it was presented on the show – something that has happened to this woman because she is fat.

By not giving an adequate explanation, that is, through ‘judicious’ (or convenient) cutting and editing, the show gave the impression that the paplable blood flow in the fistula and the raised flesh was the result of the woman being fat – or at the very least a ‘consequence’ of her ‘eating herself’ into diabetes and thus kidney disease.

There are so many other things wrong with this program, I don’t know where to start, but how about here:

  • Fat does not equal diabetes
  • Diabetes does not equal kidney disease and dialysis
  • Fat does not equal death
  • Fat does not equal glutton
  • Fat does not equal ignorant or stupid
  • Genetics plays a HUGE part in diabetes
  • Sneering at fat black women simply because they are fat black women is racist, no matter how you try to dice it.
  • Shame does not motivate weight loss
  • Fat people have not lost their right to be resepected simply because they are fat.
  • Terrifying young women into believing they will drop dead at any moment because they are size 16 is unethical – and inaccurate.
  • Terror does not motivate weight loss.
  • 95% of diets (aka lifestyle changes) result in a regain of the same weight or more within 5 years.

And I can’t go on any more.

Simply put, I strongly raise my objections to ABC showing this program, and I would like you to assure me that no further episodes of this tabloid program will be shown on any of ABC’s channels and that it will be pulled from iView.

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25 Responses to “Extreme fat hate in “Fat and Fatter””


  1. 1 Bri Thursday, 6 January 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Oh my God. How vile and disgusting.

    I am SO glad I did not see this. In my current depressed state this would have tipped the scales even further (no pun intended!).

    Please let me know if you get a response from the ABC, hopefully they won’t just send the usual canned response.

    • 2 Fatadelic Thursday, 6 January 2011 at 8:07 pm

      I debated whether to watch it or not, saw the horrific first 30 seconds and then decided I had to watch it through – no matter how bad it was – because this was just too awful to go without protest. I don’t hold any high hope for the ABC’s response, but we’ll see.

  2. 3 MadamQ Thursday, 6 January 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Ah, the BBC produced it. The BBC loves to hate on the fatties, egged on by the likes of Tam Fry. The language just in the first three minutes was ridiculously sensationalised, if it didn’t have a BBC logo on it I’d expect to find it on Fox between World’s Worst Car Chases and When Meerkats Attack!. Vile.

    Also, there’s a strong chance I’ll end up on dialysis in the medium-long term future due to a genetic disease, and making out that fistula failure is related to “obesity” is complete shit. People of every shape and size have problems with haemodialysis fistulas and it has nothing to do with your weight and everything to do with how well your veins and arteries can cope with being rearranged. (I will also note that in the USA, most dialysis patients are on US Medicare and receive the most basic dialysis services you can get, especially if they live in poorer areas. Dialysis in Australia and the UK is a vastly different experience.) This kind of crap on TV about the HORROR! of dialysis really doesn’t help to allay the fears of people who have ESRD.

  3. 4 meowser Thursday, 6 January 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Yegh. Sounds like I’m not missing much not being able to view this. And yes, for a dialysis patient, an upper arm fistula is something YOU HAVE TO HAVE FOR DIALYSIS. It’s not the kind of fistula that forms organically. And there are plenty of ESRD patients in all weight categories, believe me.

  4. 5 Ashley Pariseau Thursday, 6 January 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Wow that’s horrible. The letter was good. Let us know if they respond.

  5. 6 Erylin Friday, 7 January 2011 at 2:05 am

    i really think we should all start emailing, complaining and linking so everyone else in the fatosphere does so. its not that hard to copy and paste a complaint…..and the kmore of us speak up the more of a difference it will make. i personally (though i didnt watch the show…way too triggering) went ahead and complained as well.

  6. 7 sleepydumpling Friday, 7 January 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I’m not up to watching this show at the moment either, but I’m eternally grateful that you have taken it on. It just makes me sick reading about it.

    Thank you for speaking up hon.

  7. 8 Fatadelic Friday, 7 January 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Yeah. They were bastards with the timing of this, too. New Year is when everybody is feeling the body pressure most. I can certainly understand not being up to this. I mean, I felt like watching it was an exercise in masocism to some extent.

  8. 9 Mulberry Thursday, 13 January 2011 at 7:15 am

    ABC? Isn’t that the VERY SAME STATION that rejected the Lane Bryant Cacique ad?

  9. 10 Fatadelic Thursday, 13 January 2011 at 7:50 am

    No. That was the US ABC. This is the Ausytalian ABC which is an unrelated non-commercial channel.

  10. 11 Mish Friday, 14 January 2011 at 11:16 am

    ok I watched the second episode in this series and I was so mad. I wanted to slap that Scottish woman. Seriously who the hell did she think she was? She was so rude and I kinda felt sorry for that Greek woman when they were ganging up on her. Although Jenny really upset me. To be 10 years old and over 120kg is just not acceptable. Her parents really let her down

  11. 12 james Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I totally agree with you.

    I saw all 4 episodes of the show and found it to be utterly biassed, pejorative, collection of misinfomation and vilifaction.

    The narrator on the show still gives me the creeps with her smug condescesion!

  12. 13 james Friday, 28 January 2011 at 1:14 pm

    ps i suggest a really good book by Glenn Gaesser called “Big Fat Lies”.

  13. 14 Emerald Wednesday, 9 February 2011 at 7:16 am

    I’m British and I hadn’t actually heard of this, but now I have, I’m ashamed to be a BBC license fee payer. Not that all the channels don’t now seem to have this sideshow mentality. Depressing. But kudos to you for putting together an intelligent response.

  14. 15 Faycin A Croud Sunday, 15 May 2011 at 7:39 am

    I don’t have enough Sanity Watchers points to watch that! I’m glad you took one for the team. Thank you for posting about it!

  15. 16 BigGirlBlue Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 2:57 am

    I don’t know how someone thought they could air that and it would be acceptable. Or is the whole point in being unacceptable so they get coverage? It is disgusting.

    p.s. I tried posting as a guest but it kept saying that my name and email needed to be filled in.

  16. 17 Jackie Yoshi Monday, 4 July 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Wow, my jaw dropped reading that. How far we haven’t come!

  17. 18 1a1a Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:30 am

    Ah quit hating, I’m in the process of overhauling my eating habits and (having only watched one episode), I’m utterly grateful for the insight into the lives of people who have left their weight gain unchecked! It’s just that little bit of extra incentive I need to go for that walk tonight before bed.

    As for the narrator, she Is condescending but the ABC has been screening an absolute plethora of docudrama/reality TV from Britain lately (they are all exactly the same style with the same narrator) so I can look past that.

    • 19 Fatadelic Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Fat people do not exist to provide you with weightloss incentives – or even to give you ‘insight’ (whatever the hell that means in this context!). Fat people are human beings and deserve to be given the same respect you are given.

      My gripe with this show is – apart from being inaccurate and over-stating the health risks of being fat – that it goes to extraordinary lengths to dehumanise the people appearing on camera, whether it’s the young girls whom they were trying to scare or the older people who are being used as object lessons. For example, in both cases, the camera pans and zooms on body parts, inviting the viewer to point, stare and judge. I don’t think you need to be an expert in the languague of film to recognise the techniques that have been deliberately chosen at every step of the film-making process to ‘other’ and exploit fat people.

    • 20 1a1a Thursday, 24 November 2011 at 12:06 am

      Slightly off topic but, spent a bit of time exploring this ‘fat acceptance’ thing post off-the-cuff commenting (pre getting comment response). Among other things must say – thank you for blogging.

  18. 21 1a1a Friday, 14 October 2011 at 1:17 am

    *still watching, episode 2 now* Just wanted to add that I do acknowledge that this kind of show that the Brits pump out is exploitative/insipid etc, oh what a low level of television programming I have settled for.

    • 22 Fatadelic Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 3:22 pm

      Oh, gee. Thanks for acknowledging that the show was exploitative. When the Bachelorette can be considered more ethical than a show broadcast on ABC or BBC, then I think we have a major problem.

  19. 23 claudia Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 9:05 pm

    the show is a doing a great public service. screening this program, replete with scare tactics and hyperbolic narrative is just one way of searing into the people’s minds the fact that collectively, we have grossly unhealthy lifestyle habits and are highly prone to gluttony.

    simply stated, most of us eat far too much. our bodies don’t need the excess fuel, and our planet is struggling to keep up with our unsustainable mass monocultural farming practices in order to produce all the excess food.

    get a grip dude !

    • 24 Fatadelic Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 3:21 pm

      I’ll allow this comment through (see comments policy regarding ‘concern trolling’), however I strongly disagree.

      This show was not about ‘health’, it was about creating a freak show. End of story.

  20. 25 JR Sunday, 29 January 2012 at 3:43 am

    I am flabbergasted. Where to even start? First off, as a US woman who lives right next door to Mississippi, and seeing the woman they choose to feature, and judging from the comments I regularly hear from people who live outside the US, if this is the kind of thing they tell people who don’t live here – namely, that the average person in the US is “eating themselves to 240kg (I think that’s about 500 lbs)” – well that’s simply nonsense. It is exceedingly rare even down here in the “fat capital” of the US to see someone that size.
    But do there tend to be some size differences? Yes. And is that anyone’s business to gripe about and moralize over and mock and portray health problems as a side effect of sheer gluttony? FFS, no! I’m glad you wrote a letter because all I can think of is profanity. Geez, this poor woman has diabetes and and is living in the midst of a region where she has to deal with poverty and racism and none of that stress has had ANY effect on her health or weight, I’m sure, nor has any of her genetics, oh no. Just like I know people who eat twice as much as me and are thinner, or I weigh more than a lot of people and am middle aged and yet am healthier than they are, because life is just like that.
    Does this woman even know they made the “documentary” to ridicule and shame her?!


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