Reality TV has never been anything but a guilty pleasure for me. In high school I shunned my friends for watching the first season of Survivor and at home, if someone walked in on me watching The Real World I would change the channel as quickly as possible. But like it, secretly like it, or not, reality TV is a stronghold in American entertainment today, and is, most frequently, about encouraging conformity, competition and “survival of the fittest.” But what about those who aren’t “the fittest?”
Lifetime’s new show is a bit different. It’s called, How to Look Good Naked and it’s hosted by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy‘s Carson Kressley, proving himself to be the Leo Buscaglia for my generation. This show is, quite simply, about having self esteem. It takes on women who feel BADLY about themselves, frequently because they are overweight, but sometimes just because they have guts or butts.
As someone who spent moments of her childhood being called, amongst other things, “beached whale“, I can relate. For the first time, with How to Look Good Naked, reality tv actually feels like a reality I have known. This show is not a fantasy of spending a million dollars in NYC boutiques or getting transformed into Kate Winslet via plastic surgery; but wanting to cry because you feel like a loser, and how very misleading that feeling is. The show hammers home the widespread self-loathing epidemic with flashes of shocking and sad statistics across the screen like, “4 out of 5 adolescent girls would rather get cancer than gain weight.”
Some television critics are enraged by this feel-good theme, saying it promotes obesity. I beg to differ. Let me tell you: when you’re fat, you know it. It’s not a secret and you feel shameful and self conscious in most everything you do. Promoting obesity is different than acknowledging that humans come in different shapes and sizes. The only other time I’ve seen overweight people on television was as “best friends” in 80s sitcoms.
As my friend Becca pointed out, if a woman (or man) is confident, they are more likely to live an active life, and probably become more physically healthy! Depression is one of the main causes for obesity… and depression isn’t cured with diets or personal trainers or plastic surgery. Appreciation for who you are and belief in a positive future for yourself goes further.
Unfortunately, a television show can only do so much. And when Dexetrim ads are shown during the commercial breaks, and critics are vehemently panning it for some kind of deep seated fear or hatred that our society has with fat people, especially women, what difference does it really make?
Well, I don’t care. I think it’s babysteps in the right direction. About-Face suggests that those who like the show, or even the concept, write to Lifetime and let them know. I think that’s a good idea.
Via About Face