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.