Lately I’ve been noticing a surge in TV shows that feature fat folks. And while at first I thought the exposure was great, looking more closely I see that any exposure doesn’t necessarily mean good exposure. Especially when magazines like US feature former Biggest Loser contestants and their perfect Hollywood style weddings, sending the message that getting thin grants you access to love and happiness. Recently, the blog the F-Word wrote a great piece about the representation of fat people in the media.
With the exception of weight-loss shows like “The Biggest Loser” and TLC’s series of sideshow freak programs like “The Half-Ton Mom,” fat people are conspicuously absent from television. One recent study found that while some 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, only 24 percent of male characters and 13 percent of female characters were fat. And the roles are as token as the actors, especially for women and even more starkly, for black women. Fat characters are more likely to be in minor roles, less likely to be involved in romantic relationships, have fewer positive interactions than thin characters, and were often made the butt of jokes.