I read a blog post the other day that brought up something that I think a lot about. Fit vs fat. Is there a difference? Can you be both or one but not the other? What does society and media culture say about being fat? What do they say about being fit?
We would use this word in this case as either an adjective or a verb. Fit means “of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose” OR “be of the right shape or size for”. That wasn’t very helpful now was it?
The blogger made reference to Chrissy Metz who plays Kate on the new hit series This is us. I LURVE this show! Chrissy plays a fat character who is struggling with her weight and when she signed her contract with the show, she agreed for her character to lose weight. Here is what Chrissy says:
In our contract, it did state that that would be a part of it, to lose the weight in the trajectory of the character as she comes to find herself. That was a win-win for me. Because it’s one thing to try to do it on your own. But as human beings, it’s an ego thing: We’re more likely to do something for someone else.
I just have to be very clear. Whether or not I lose weight or stay the same, it’s purely a choice of mine for health. Not because I think that plus-size, curvy, voluptuous, big bodies aren’t attractive — because I think they’re awesome and sexy. So I’ll just have to make sure that’s known, because I’m not selling out the big girls. I don’t do that. That’s not me.
I think this is great! Of course you can be big and beautiful! Beauty is what you are in the inside not the outside. Right? Well, the other blogger disagrees with me. She says that almost every fat character we see on TV and in movies is “fully invested in fat-hating diet culture.” She goes on to say that almost all media representation of fat people is based on negative stereotypes (weight) and diet culture is a problem. So her issue is, Chrissy is already fat and plays a fat person, why make her lose weight? They want her to fit in to the stereotype that has been adopted by the media. She says that representation matters and if we don’t have role models who look like us (mind you, I still have the “fat” mentality) and ENJOY looking like us, we won’t be represented. What about the fat people who don’t want to be skinny? She goes on to say it’s not just important to fat people to see and relate to other fat people but it’s important for everyone we interact with, whose beliefs and opinions about us are shaped by our media (she also throws in “self-loathing stereotypes”).
I totally see where her point is going and I *almost* agree with all of it but I’m not fully on board. It *almost* sounds to me like she’s mad that Chrissy wants to lose weight. Doesn’t she want Chrissy to be healthy? Ahhh, now, THERE is the issue.
The blogger goes on to point out, what does Chrissy have to do to lose the weight? What kind of shenanigans are doctors and pharmaceutical companies slinging out that we are “eating” up? Diet pills, paleo diets, Whole 30, *gasp* surgery! Why do we HAVE to lose weight to be healthy? Why can’t we just be fat and happy AND healthy? Why do we need to put ourselves in harm’s way just to fit in to what society THINKS we should be?
Her big issue here is that she wants fat people to be represented in the media as normal, every-day non self-loathing human beings that reject diet culture. We shouldn’t have to diet to become skinny just to fit in to what society and the media think is healthy.
I agree with her here; weight is not the same thing as health, and that neither weight loss nor health are an obligation, a badge of worthiness, 100% within our control, or a guarantee. I agree that just because you are thin does not mean that you are healthy. I also agree that just because you carry some pudge does not mean that you are not fit. Here is where she loses me. Chrissy is WELL over 400 pounds. I know this because my dad was once that size and she is bigger than he was at his heaviest. She is not healthy. I do not think that Chrissy CHOOSING to lose weight is body shaming and that it is oppressing fat people.
To be represented or to have representation as a fat person in today’s media is important. Look at Melissa McCarthy. She is a wonderful role model for both women, children, and the fat alike. I don’t think that the media is requiring her to lose weight and we accept her for carrying a bit more pudge than say…J Law. Is Melissa McCarthy healthier than Chrissy? I don’t know their personal medical history but I can only assume that carrying 200 less pounds is better for ANYONE. I know I felt a million times better after losing only 50 pounds. After losing over 100 I can take the stairs without dying, I can run, I sleep better, I have more stamina. Can you weigh 200 pounds and accomplish the same things? Sure. Please do. Can you accomplish these same things at over 400? No…I don’t think you can.
I think that media plays a HUGE part in how we feel about our bodies and I think the want to be thin is strong in everyone, not just the fat. I think that actresses like Chrissy Metz are important because it teaches us that you don’t need to be a size 2 to get a role on a hit TV series. But I don’t think its ok to teach our children that it’s ok to be 400 pounds either. She is beautiful. She is a wonderful person, no doubt. Should she probably lose some weight to be healthier? Yes. Does this make her a better person? No.