I've been watching the Huge blogging from afar wanting to think it was justifying the optimism that its been inspiring among fat positive viewers. While the setting always struck me as mine-field with no up-side, the notion of fat people just being on TV is incredibly radical and of course I wanted that to be a good thing. Withoutscene over at BFB, however, spots a pretty good sign of where the show really lies with an essay contest for a fat-stigmatization program scholarship.
I mean, this just pisses me off. I may be inclined to be cynical about shows like this, but it doesn't mean I want to be. It doesn't mean I don't sit around eager to proven wrong. Which, I guess, isn't really cynicism for reals, so much as a defensive mechanism.
See, here is my worst fear about Huge. That it would talk like it was body positive for a long while before pulling the switch. Only, it would take this inversion of body positivity and insist that it is actually the true end-result of body-positivity. In that, it would cut Fat Acceptance down in the same its been done before. By taking everything we say and repeating it only changing the ending to be one which serves fat stigmatization. And people have gotten away with this BS before, no matter how implausible. Soon we'll hear self-righteously about how wanting to lose weight is the obvious end result of loving yourself at any size. Doesn't matter that it makes no sense. It'll take hold and fat acceptance will be further marginalized while the only people who get to debate fatness are those with differing opinions on how to stigmatize us.
This is not a good sign, but I hesitate to say it betrays the show that a lot of people have felt positively about up until now. The people behind the show, after all, know how it turns out already. Is this a mis-guided effort at cross-marketing or have they betrayed the show's intent? We'll have to wait to see, but some people know. And I wouldn't be the least bit shocked to see them through Fat Acceptance under the bus.
Its perverse, really. What is Fat Acceptance? Its a very loose community of individual activists using their own time, money, and resources to advocate for a better life for themselves and for others by ending fat stigmatization. We're incredibly marginalized, underfunded, and disadvantaged. Yet there seems to be no end of people who want to self-righteously lump us in with those who make billions off selling fat hatred to all corners of our society. People who hate fat, but want to pretend that they are somehow more moral about it than the Me!Me!'s of the world by pulling this "a pox on both their houses" bullshit. They grandstand to soothe their ego, but at the end of the day what they call for and what the lunatic fringe of fat stigmatization call for isn't very different. Both of them want to make it unsafe to question fat stigmatization. Both of them want to disenfranchise fat activists. I'm sick of it. Whether intended by its producers or not, this product synergy with Huge will ensure no shortage of others happy to pull this act on us.
We're going to be self-righteously told to keep in our place. Don't we know fat is wrong? Don't we know we are wrong? They'll just keep asserting again and again and again how implausible and how unthinkable it is for us to think this way. We'll be disregarded into irrelevance. Any gains we might have seen from Huge would have just set up a more thorough burying.
Well, I'm sick and tired of this. If Huge is about something different, it should repudiate this contest. If it really is just an elaborate and poisonous infomercial for weight-loss camps, then it should be straight about it. Because I'm sick and tired of people using me and my beliefs to prop up their fat hatred. If you think body positivity leads to body hatred, you're insulting us.
UPDATE: Huge Co-Creator Shannon Dooley commented about this at Fatshionista. I certainly suggest you check that out, but the jist is that she is denying that there is any commercial tie-in planned between fat-stigmatization programs and the show and takes a few swipes at program at issue. This is good news, but it doesn't mean this is all about nothing, either. Whether it indicated the creator's intent or not, the show has been leveraged to promote fat hatred and this is troubling for many reasons outside of the concern that this would be reflected in the text of the program.