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.
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.
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.
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.)