Girth On Film

Where would television be without fat people? How did they fill all those hours on air before they cottoned on to us?

Here in the UK  the evil godmother of the genre was Crackpot McKeith, but now the schedule bursts at the seams with shows about fat people. We’ve had Celebrity Fit Club and The Biggest Loser and casual lipo on  Ten Years Younger. There’s even been Serious Documentaries like World’s Biggest Boy and The 34-Stone Teenager (476lb/216kg).

But now they’re getting truly nutty. On Fat Men Can’t Hunt a bunch of large folk were dumped in the desert with some Kalahari Bushmen. They were filmed all red-faced and grumbling and trying to hunt lions and useless tiny birds. From the website: Isolated in one of the world’s harshest environments, will our brave volunteers adapt to their new lifestyle or end up begging to be airlifted to the nearest kebab shop?

They’ve even diversified into the canine world. Help! My Dog’s As Fat As Me takes fat dogs and fat owners and puts them through their paces to see who can lose the most lard and win the prestigious Golden Collar award.

And this week there’s a new series starting on Five brilliantly titled, I Know What You Ate Last Summer. It follows six obese British teenagers as they spend two months at a Californian adventure camp.

I have mixed feelings about all this Lard TV. Some of it is really well done, like BBC Three’s Freaky Eaters series. I had a really good honkin’ cry after an episode about a girl who binged on chocolate. She really turned around her thinking with the help of a therapist and the nutritionist. It was a great show with sound, sensitive and sensible advice. I meant to write about it at the time – it touched a nerve and I learned a lot and wanted to pass it on. Hopefully I’ll catch a repeat.

But on the other hand, I want to throw things at my telly with the more ridiculous shows, the ones that pull out all the horrid obvious stereotypes. Whiny, lazy, argumentative fatties. Lingering shots of triple chins and wobbly bellies and thighs clashing together. Smug and smarmy voiceovers. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t be grumpy if they were stuck in the Kalahari with only a sparrow for breakfast, but no doubt some folk watching would have thought, "Lookit them stupid lard-arses."

Why do I watch these shows anyway? It’s a strange compulsion. I do steer clear of the gameshow-y ones, but I admit I scan the TV guide looking for them coz I can’t help laughing at the names. I’m more a fool for the shows where you feel like the fat person on the show is actually getting something from the experience. Sometimes I learn something new. Or sometimes I just find it comforting to see people on telly struggling with the same things I struggle with.

I don’t know. I feel like such a sucker; I’m so easily emotionally manipulated. I get angry and I want to kick people on the screen, or sometimes I just get teary and want to dive into the telly and say, Dude! I know how you feel! Let’s go eat cakes together! Actually, maybe we should just go for a walk.

So yeah. There’s a lot of fat on the box these days. Some of it’s shite and some is pretty good. But this week I shall widen my horizons and tune in to F*** Off, I’m Ginger, which explores perils of being a redhead. Indeed!

. . .

Things are going great guns with my own flab fighting efforts. It’s not dramatic but it’s steady and consistent. I’ve obediently followed my exercise plan and kept track of my food for ten weeks in a row now. Woohoo!

A couple of people wrote to ask why I’ve not been posting my weigh-ins. As I’ve mentioned before it was messing with my head – six years of telling a whole bunch of people what I weighed.

Somehow when I don’t write about my weigh-ins I don’t fuss over them. I just jump on the scale and interpret the numbers in a cool, logical and honest manner. But when I had to sit down to write about it, I’d started to lose my perspective. I was too emotional and put too much stock in the numbers. If it was a bad week I felt like I had to come up with a justification for the result. It was like being back at Weight Watchers, yapping excuses to the weigh lady about fluid retention.

A good week was just as bad. If people congratulated me and said, "You’re so close to goal!" I’d panic and worry I’d  screw up in the following week, then feel like an idiot because I’d have to blog about a gain. And the more I worried the more I’d tend to go off the rails – my traditional all-or-nothing approach.

Just so you understand, this pressure was coming entirely from myself, not from you lovely folk. And the closer I got to goal, the more pressure I piled on.

So I had to step back and sort my relationship with that stupid machine, once and for all. I’m doing all those positive things I talked about in February – takings things slow and steady, making sure what I do is sustainable and enjoyable in the long term. And it’s still working – I’m still shrinking. Slowly but surely.

I know it’s all a bit dull and wishy-washy without cold hard statistics, but bear with me for a wee bit longer. I’m really trying to figure things out and make sure that the phrase "lifestyle change" isn’t just lip service. This time I need to believe it and live it.

25 thoughts on “Girth On Film

  1. I went to that “Freaky Eaters” web site and now I really want to watch that series. People who eat only potato chips? Weird. Too bad I live in the states and don’t even get BBC America.

  2. I just finished writing a post for my blog about the same thing you address — the pressure we put on ourselves posting our weigh-in results and the importance we place upon it. It was so nice to know I’m not the only one dealing with this, and it’s great that you’ve found a way to get around it and still succeed.

  3. Hi, long time reader first time commenter. Well first I just wanted to say that my boyfriend is a redhead, and I think it’s hot!

    The whole posting my weigh in thing totally gets me down too. I post it on my myspace page, and If I don’t lose, or have a little gain, I feel like I have to write about why, like I’m making excuses for everyone else, when I don’t need them. After all, I’m not losing weight for them. If my ass becomes a shelf you can put things on it’d just be more handy for everyone else.

  4. Have to admit that I’m addicted to these shows as well – I think it has to do with the dramatic weight loss feeding into my belief that some kind fairy will come and suddenly force me to exercise like a demon because my own willpower isnt worth 5p. Then, 8 weeks later, there’ll be a big ‘reveal’ where Im all shiny and new and skinny! Its taken years to get my brain to recognise that I have to participate in this too, so while I’m pretty addicted to these shows, I also dont like the false promise they peddle. Ho hum. On a lighter note, 3 of my exes have been redheads, something I didnt realise til no. 3, so obviously I find that pretty attractive!

    Thanks for being the first to comment on my blog Shauna, yep, up and running!

  5. “Sustainable and enjoyable” is such a good concept. In the beginning, when the pounds come off quickly, weigh-ins can be a motivator, but for the long run there’s got to be more to it than that. Slow and steady is working for you – working great!

  6. Ha, ha! “F*** Off, I’m Ginger” — that is hilarious. Not the ginger part, just the title πŸ™‚ Great post! Sometimes I wish I had cable so I could see all of the inspiring weight loss shows. I know the 34-Stone Teenager would make me cry — I can’t believe how cruel people can be to others who are different.

  7. I’m obsessed with most weight related shows. Sadly, I even watch the cruel and sensationalistic ones, although maybe that would be a good belated new years resolution? On that note, did anyone else here in the UK see “the truth about size zero” a month or so back? I thought it was appalling. It glossed over the real health problems facing starving women and instead offered some lovely diet tips. Oh, and I couldn’t believe how she took “before” and “after” photos and discussed how much better she looked after!! Its hardly a surprise that a recent survey showed that most British women believe that a US size 8 is fat. Can you tell I’m fuming here..

  8. There was a really similar programme on… UKTVStyle I think? recently (style tends to be a good channel for that type of thing)called ‘farm of fussy eaters’ that basically got a group of people who all ate like that and follwed them through the series, aiming to have them prepare and eat a banquet with there families and friends at the end of it (because, you know, no pressure or anything).

  9. British TV astounds me – since we got cable a few years ago, I tune in to the UK-TV channel and find myself constantly wondering “who WATCHES this crap?” Must look out for some of those shows though, they sound like a good opportunity to let off steam by throwing cushions at the teev.

    By the way, Bike Boy is a redhead (well, used to be, back when he had hair) and he definitely has the temperament to match. I loves him anyway. πŸ™‚

    Where was I? Oh, yeah, nice going on the progress – and I don’t just mean the weight loss, but the whole shift in attitude. You definitely rawk!

  10. Oooohh, I am rubbing my hands together in GLEE at the thought of coming back to the UK and catching up on all the B-A-D tv! Kek, I see you’re from Melbourne – trust me, we don’t get a QUARTER of the random shows that are on in the UK!

    When I lived in the BURGH, I remember reading a letter in Metro one morning which said “Why are all ginger people stupid?” That’s it. 6 words. I laughed, and turned over. WELL! The backlash from that letter went on for MONTHS, and my eyes were opened to the extent that us ginger folk are PERSECUTED! (I’m laughing typing this) My best friend over there has red hair, and was always so grateful that her children hadn’t inherited it. My boss at Virgin Trainline had red hair, and told me he would rather his 2 year old son turned out gay than ginger!


  11. I don’t like the shows where overweight people are exploited like that. I think it’s insulting.

    I do think you’re right not to post your weigh-ins if it makes you too self-conscious. I’m glad you’re doing so well.

  12. I heard about the bloke who only ate cheese. His toilet habits must have been interesting.

    My addiction to the Oz Biggest Loser was highlighted when my daughter walked by the TV and yelled ‘why do we always have to watch fat people!’ But hey, Damien and Moanalotta(Munnalita) make for great TV.

  13. Hi Shauna–
    Recently discovered your most excellent blog. You’re a beautiful writer and an inspiration in the way you’ve embraced this lifestyle change. I’m glad you’ve chosen not to share weigh-in info for now, if that’s what feels right. I think it just goes to show that we need different things at different parts of the journey, you know? I’m at the beginning of what I hope will be a lasting life change, and I’m still working out for myself how much I want to share and how much feels like it wants to be private for now.

    Thanks for all that you put out there–you rawk!

  14. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and love your sense of humour and writing style. I also love reading about progress but if you feel it helps not to put it down just now then that is exactly what you should do cos in the end this is all for you and no one else. I can understand the pressure cos I felt like that when I went to Weight Watchers, it messes with your head too much. Best to do it for yourself at your own pace and not worry about other people.

    On the subject of fat people programmes I too watch them, I think they are going to give me the magic secret to losing weight but they just turn out to be some annoying skinny woman reducing someone to tears. In saying that, I still watch them :o/

  15. Yeah – I love the weighty shows. I have to admit that sometimes its too assure myself that there are people bigger than me in the world. And to scoff at their non-exercising ways.

    I enjoyed the ginger show last night but it was focused on the bloke side of things. I don’t know why they were so concerned about 2 gingers getting together. I had a major crush on a ginger-haired guy called Hamish at school. (Hmm – wonder what his background was?!) My partner obviously has half the ginger genes as his sideburns and beard (if he let it grow) are red. Our choldren will be ginger – there is no doubt.

    My new favourite obsession is America’s Next Top Model. They are so bitchy to each other and oh so shallow. And I cannot believe when one of the judges tells one of the rakes to lose weight! It’s a bit scary.

  16. I watched the Kalahari one. I admit, I did find it fascinating that most, if not all of them, were soooooo wary of trying new (admittedly weird) foods and so unwilling to persist in trying them even if they didn’t like them at first taste. They all seemed to have issues with food that obviously went a lot deeper than simply overeating!

  17. I’ve been reading your journal for a few months now and finally decided to post and thank you for all the inspiration that your words have given to me. It’s nice to see someone else succeeding on the path I dream to follow. I currently weigh 305 lbs and am starting my own journey towards good health. I hope I can be as successful at it as you have been. I just want to finally get healthy!! Anyway, I’m following in your footsteps & starting my own dieting journal. Hopefully it will help keep me on track & maybe I’ll meet some like minded people and get alittle support along the way.

    I especially liked your recent post on being your own cheer leader. That is something I definitely need to work on!

  18. Your doing great stuff for yourself Shauna and I hope that this frame of mind will get you past the finish line this year.

    Do what ya gotta to get where ya gotta go.

    NJ xxx

  19. Of the wt loss shows I’ve watched, (the biggest loser), I really don’t enjoy them. I don’t think it works to shame someone for being overweight or push them to lose at a really fast rate and not deal with why they are overweight in the first place.
    I know what you mean about wt watchers and stressing over the weekly weigh ins. I’m not doing ww since recently. Maybe I will do what you are doing and quit doing a weekly weigh in or doing a wt loss ticker on my blog. Now, I feel pressure if I don’t lose and feel stupid saying I haven’t gotten back on the wt loss wagon again for the week.
    I stop by your blog now and again and always enjoy what you have to say.

  20. Shauna, I hear ya on the lifestyle thing. I was thinking today how the fatloss lifestyle is not much different to maintenance, in fact it’s hardly distinguishable. If the lifestyle aint working now, it won’t magically be achievable once the fat is gone! Big mistake I made there once before…..

  21. Is no-one else commenting on the wonderous ‘girth on film’ post title? Genius!

  22. ooh I saw the ginger programme.. I (am ginger.. but I don’t say “ginger”.. its red or even better, auburn,,.. goddammit it!)

    I thought the “ginger” guy presenting it was quite fit πŸ™‚

    What is wrong with people? Honestly, us redheads are the last people it is politically correct to be rude to. It is ridiculous.

  23. ooh I saw the ginger programme.. I (am ginger.. but I don’t say “ginger”.. its red or even better, auburn,,.. goddammit it!)

    I thought the “ginger” guy presenting it was quite fit πŸ™‚

    What is wrong with people? Honestly, us redheads are the last people it is politically correct to be rude to. It is ridiculous.

  24. *shudder* there is some serious f-ed up crap on tv these days. I can’t bring myself to watch most of them but I have been watching The Biggest Loser, the Aussie one only, because of the good stuff they are focusing on. It’s not as sensationalised and the trainers are hot LOL.

    Good going with your thinking about weigh in and eating in general. Isn’t it amazing to see how far you’ve come. You’re a legend Shauna!

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