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No “Fatties” for The Bachelor? Why TV Only Wants to See Skinny PDA

Yesterday, US Magazine featured an interview with the host of The Bachelor Chris Harrison about the future of the show and potentially spicing up the cast. When asked if they would ever consider a “less hunky, chubby guy”, Harrison was quick to say no. And not just a simple no– that wouldn’t be fat shame-y enough. He continued to talk about why fat people should not be included on The Bachelor like rubbing salty bacon grease in an open wound,

 “No. You know why? Because that’s not attractive, and television is a very visual medium.” –Chris Harrison

He then tries to say that by conventional standards he isn’t attractive either because he’s old- as if that makes up for his comment- but we get the picture.

He does not think fat people are attractive, nor does he want to see them in romantic situations. And unfortunately, he isn’t alone.

We as a media saturated culture still have an issue with watching fat people in movies or TV shows that require them to be in a romantic role. Think about it. How many times have you seen a plus size woman as a romantic lead? There are very few movies that do. The film industry has done a better job of featuring more women that rock a dress size in the double digits, such as Gabourey Sidibe and Rebel Wilson.

rebelseth and mindygab oscar

However, when plus size women are featured in movies, they are often cast in funny or serious roles, but rarely romantic. Some men have been able to break into romantic roles without a six-pack, like Seth Rogen, but often we require the “hottie with a body” look before acting ability for these roles. Reality television mirrors these images and employs carbon copies of tanned, thin bodies for show about finding love because apparently these are the only people worthy of finding it.

mike-and-molly-kiss_320

Backlash to fat accepting romantic story lines is nothing new- as seen in 2010 when Marie Claire published an article about how “fatties” need to get a room on the show Mike & Molly starring plus size stars Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy.

The article asked the question “Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?” to which the writer Maura Kelly responded,

“Yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroin addict slumping in a chair.”

So apparently being fat is like an addiction to heroin? She goes on to say things such as obese people have “tons of control” over losing weight and they can change if they “only put their mind to it”. Apparently she is unaware of eating disorders that aren’t anorexia and the socio- economics of obesity, but I digress.mikeandmolly

By saying that we think watching men and women who aren’t rocking a perfect bod is “gross” perpetuates a standard of sexy that isolates people who do not fit the hegemonic ideal. We need to stop perpetuating this idea that it is unnatural or gross because its not. Everyone- men and women alike- deserves to be in love, to make love, and feel sexy as hell and it does not matter what size pants you are, or end up not, wearing.

What do you all think about Harrison’s comments about chubby bachelors?

(And don’t worry, it only gets worse. Check out my post later this week about his opinions on a gay bachelor and media perceptions of LGBT romantic relationships.)

5 Responses to “No “Fatties” for The Bachelor? Why TV Only Wants to See Skinny PDA”

  1. SarahStar77

    I am glad you brought up the issue of how our culture is a skinny focused one. It is interesting to note that Chris Harrison only brought up how a fat man would not be appealing on television and not a fat woman, he may have gotten more negative backlash if he made such a comment. Regardless, I am glad you bring up how people who are overweight are rarely portrayed in romantic roles in the media. The only women I can think of is Molly from Mike and Molly, which you brought up and Bridget Jones. What ways do you think we could make our culture more accepting of people who are “overweight.” Also remember the lingerie commercial of the plus size model that was taken down because she was “plus size.” Just some food for thought. Great post!

    Reply
  2. stronglifehealthylifehappylife

    I agree that everyone should be loved and find love, and that what Chris Harrison said was offensive. However I do understand WHY he said it. Media should stop putting such an emphasis on stick-skinny women, and instead highlight normal sized women. However, “normal-sized” does not mean grossly overweight, it means HEALTHY. This judgement that we put on stick-skinny women should go both ways. How is someone that is 100 pounds overweight any healthier than those who look malnourished? The emphasis should be on healthy looking women and not either skinny nor overweight women because they are both equally unhealthy and neither should be a role model for younger generations in romantic leads or others.
    Yes Marie Claire may have been a little harsh but I find it interesting that your response was to highlight binge eating disorders as a response to the author’s saying that obese people can take control over and put their mind to losing weight. Even if we were to think of the eating disorder anorexia, how do we get over this eating disorder? We get help TO take back control of our eating habits BY putting out minds to it. Now I know there are diseases that cause people to put on weight that are out of their control (i.e. Thyroid and metabolic issues) however I don’t believe that your argument is completely valid by only attuning it to an eating disorder. As a Kinesiology major, I, and people that care about health are “disgusted” (as you put it) by people that choose to live unhealthily, whether that be overweight or starved to skin and bones. So I agree with you in saying that of course everyone deserves to be loved, and it’s sad if people are judging love that comes in any shape or form, but this is just my opinion on why it’s not shown on TV (though again, I also think that the media’s focus of only putting stick-skinny women and men in romantic leads is just as bad of role models).

    Reply
  3. ladylikesailormouth

    Hi there! Thank you for your response. I’m glad you are at least equating both underweight and overweight as equally problematic, however I do have a hard time trying to understand what you deem “healthy looking”. That is a lot of the issue when it comes to what we feature on television in terms of body image because what does healthy look like? For example, if we were to use BMI as terms of “healthy” it wouldn’t necessarily work because it is not always accurate. But I do see and understand the point you are making.

    Also, I don’t mean to just assume everyone who is overweight has an eating disorder. I mean it more in the means of people think eating disorders just apply to someone who is too skinny, but they also cause people to become overweight. I do not think overcoming any eating disorder is as easy as Marie Claire tries to sum up as “just putting your mind to it.”

    At the end of the day, Chris Harrison’s comment comes down to the fact that we have decided anyone who does not fit the mold- as you have described as unhealthy- is automatically unattractive and unworthy. That is not okay. I am plus sized, aware I am overweight, continuing to work on it, and yet I still find myself attractive. There should be no shame in that, and yet there is.

    Reply
  4. imagineherstory

    Girl, you and your posts are just amazing! This is so on point! While reading this piece all I could think of was how many trappings of love are limited to those who are thin. Like what’s the most romantic action that is constantly repeated in love movies? Picking up the woman and spinning her round and round, like that is the epitome of romance. Yet, that excludes so many people- woman who aren’t able to be picked up or don’t feel comfortable when it happens, men who aren’t strong enough. It’s like if you can’t participate in all of these trappings of love then what you’re experiencing isn’t as good. So sad.

    Reply
  5. mscherhorowitz

    One of so, so many problems with The Bachelor/ette is that it has never been a shining beacon of diversity in any way. Its agenda seems solely focused on upholding gender stereotypes and beauty ideals so of course they wouldn’t want someone who was fat or LGBT. I also have to wonder how much of a statement they’d even be making by featuring someone with a diverse background because the show seems pretty culturally insignificant at this point. (Although I admittedly watch it pretty religiously because it’s just a guilty pleasure. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone though.)

    Reply

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