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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.