Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"More to Love" and the Humorous Belittling of Overweight People

Tonight, Fox aired a television program titled "More to Love," in which Luke Conley, a 26 year-old real estate investor from California takes his pick from among twenty women. The twist is that he is 330 pounds.

And, he likes voluptuous, curvy women, because he feels they have more fun in life. He says that he "enjoys being a man of large stature." It took him years to reach a point at which he could accept himself for who he was. He was teased as a boy.

Well, he and the ladies from which he is to choose shouldn't feel they're immune to vituperation. Daring to leave their homes- daring, even, to exist, is enough to make them fair game for some.

There is a particularly charming article by a woman called Debbie Schlussel entitled "The Fat-chelor: As America Gets Fatter, Weird Fat Chicks Shows Invade TV." She starts by noting an article in USAToday about medical costs related to obesity. She then chastises Fox for airing a show featuring overweight people looking for love, and the overweight people themselves, with unequivocal language:

And while the headlines scream that, tonight FOX is debuting a show that screams something else: that it’s okay for these fatties to wear a size 24 and cost Americans gazillions in extra medical bills.

I nickname the show, “The Fat-chelor.” But, in PC-victimhood style, it has a far more sympathetic, compassionate, sensitive name: “More to Love.” More like, More to Laugh At. ABC’s “The Bachelor” is bad enough. But now the producer of that show, Mike Fleiss (cousin of hooker Heidi) brings us this “bigger” version. A guy who weighs 330 pounds “dates” several women, all of whom are fat, er . . . “plus-sized”–and all but two of whom weigh over 200 pounds. (The show would be far more interesting if they made the Fat-chelor and his weighty concubines get in an elevator to see if they exceed capacity and find out what happens. )

Anna, one of the "fatties" of "More to Love."

Her wit is obvious to any reader. Calling women who are overweight "fatties" is a clever use of the root word "fat," which is a synonym of "overweight." Nicknaming the show "The Fat-chelor" is an almost-punning reference to the popular show "The Bachelor," which has generally the same concept as "More to Love," but with smaller women (i.e., not "fatties").

Using the term "PC-victimhood style" is a subtle reference to the tone she herself employs in the article. Belittling the idea of a compassionate and sensitive portrayal of "fatties" reminds the reader that these people deserve the ridicule she is heaping upon them.

Of course, the fact that the producer is the brother of the famous "Hollywood Madame" is of vital importance.

Telling the reader that "all but two of [the "fatties"] weigh over 200 pounds" is an inaccuracy that I'm sure Ms. Schlussel employed for its hyperbolic effect. (In fact, in the first episode, according to on-screen titles, there were nine of twenty women who weighed under 200 pounds. Two of the women are said to weight 200 exactly, and the remaining nine weigh more than 200 pounds.)

The joke about getting the "weighty concubines" in an elevator to see what happens is an amusing way to wish a painful death upon a group of people you don't like, because they are different from you.

Malissa, one of the "weighty concubines" of "More to Love."

The article, in short, is exactly what you might expect from someone whose reading list includes "The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain." Clearly, she is taking his satirical and humorous writing as inspiration.

From Ms. Schlussel's website- her reading list. "Fat Pig," and "The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain."

Of course, like most clever people who use hilarious language to belittle others, Ms. Schlussel's reasons for doing so stem from her righteous concern for their welfare:

Yes, we’re supposed to feel sympathetic that these women ate and ate and ate, and sat and sat and sat. We’re supposed to have compassion and saw, “Aww . . . isn’t that cute and nice. Finally a show for them.” Uh, no. Sorry, but in a society–ours–in which 34% of adults are obese (as of 2006, the latest year for which such numbers are available) and growing (according to the National Center for Health Statistics/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we need LESS shows promoting that it’s okay to be sickly and in a poor health condition of your own doing.

"Fatties" deserve to be fat. They brought it on themselves, because they lack the willpower to just stop feeding themselves. And, they're a burden on society. The USAToday article that she references tells us that:

Americans who are 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight cost the country an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008, double the amount a decade ago, according to a study by government scientists and the non-profit research group RTI International.

Obesity now accounts for 9.1% of all medical spending, up from 6.5% in 1998. Overall, an obese patient has $4,871 in medical bills a year compared with $3,442 for a patient at a healthy weight.

But, just because overweight people having higher yearly costs, does not mean that they have higher lifetime costs. As a matter of fact, here is a bit of information that I'm sure will tickle Ms. Schlussel to no end: "Fatties" cost less than "healthy" people, over the course of their lives. According to a study published last year.

Because of differences in life expectancy, however, lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. Obese individuals held an intermediate position. Alternative values of epidemiologic parameters and cost definitions did not alter these conclusions.
Although effective obesity prevention leads to a decrease in costs of obesity-related diseases, this decrease is offset by cost increases due to diseases unrelated to obesity in life-years gained. Obesity prevention may be an important and cost-effective way of improving public health, but it is not a cure for increasing health expenditures.

Perhaps the "fatties" should be complaining about the obviously-clean living Ms. Schlussel and her svelte friends. Their increased life spans contribute to higher medical costs, for all of us.

I hope Ms. Schlussel doesn't learn about the work of artist Peter Paul Rubens. One shudders to think what her clever, jaundiced eye would make of his "fatties."

And, as I'm sure Ms. Schlussel is aware, a study from 2007 found that underweight people tend to die sooner than overweight people.

Underweight was associated with significantly increased mortality from noncancer, non-CVD causes (23 455 excess deaths; 95% confidence interval [CI], 11 848 to 35 061) but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality. Overweight was associated with significantly decreased mortality from noncancer, non-CVD causes (–69 299 excess deaths; 95% CI, –100 702 to –37 897) but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality.

I expect Ms. Schlussel will next write a scathing and witty article decrying all the "skinnies" on television- the people who don't eat enough and die younger than- well, the "fatties."

She also states that "34% of adults are obese and growing." I assume that she means the number of adults who are obese is growing, and not the adults themselves (although that would be very clever of her!). However, according to a study released last year by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the prevalence of obesity among children has leveled off since 1999:

The prevalence of high BMI for age among children and adolescents showed no significant changes between 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 and no significant trends between 1999 and 2006.

A New York Times article published around the same time concluded:

Childhood obesity, rising for more than two decades, appears to have hit a plateau, a potentially significant milestone in the battle against excessive weight gain among children.

So, that should be good news for Ms. Schlussel, who is so very concerned about "fatties." You can tell how concerned she is, based on the clever language she employs in her article. It is particularly gratifying to belittle people who clearly show so little self-control, and get what they deserve through their own bad behavior.

Like short people. And bald people. And skinny people. People with "bad" genes.

Children's genes are more important than their environment in determining whether they will become overweight, new research shows.

"Fatties" are even more hilarious, when you consider they might not actually have any choice in the matter of their body size. People who have the "acceptable" body type can make fun of the "fatties" all they want. And be exceptionally clever while doing it.

And here, I hardly got a chance to talk about the show. Many of the women, touchingly, displayed more heart and compassion than the tawdry Ms. Schlussel could ever hope for. Sadly, because Ms. Schlussel's attitude is the prevailing one, many of them- in their twenties, still haven't had a boyfriend, or even gone on a date. One of them said she was afraid to go on a date, because she's "scared it's a joke."

One of the five eliminated women, Michelle, says, "I have a huge heart... I really want to have that love story." It's only too bad she's a "fatty," right, Ms. Schlussel? Maybe then she'd deserve to find someone.

Anna pic source.
Malissa pic source.
Rubens pic source.


shampoo said...

last year vogue ran an article that weight is largely genetically determined. vogue!

but maybe this dear woman who hates fatties will get prescribed steroids and find out first hand that sometimes even starving (unless you're really, really committed) doesn't work.

after a lifetime of being underweight I had the steroids or die option. I never "ate and ate and ate" but when other people whispered to me about their binges, I let them think I did because I didn't want them to keep feeling guilty over some stupid cookies they ate two weeks ago.

I have been paid back in spades for every conceited thought I ever had. and I realized I had a mild form of anorexia which caused me to screw up my health which led to the asthma, etc. see how that works?

I don't have to take steroids much now so my weight has dropped and stablized but there was a time when the numbers on the scale kept creeping up and there was nothing, short of letting myself get sick and die, that I could do. and I was never, ever as mean as this chick. but i'll bet I started out skinnier than her. ;)

I don't know if being on tv is good or bad for these folks but good luck to them. :)

A.Jaye said...

That's the gimmick right? Putting fat chicks on TV looking for love. I mean we are supposed to laugh at them right? And the 300 pounder.

Didn't we all laugh at Flav et al?

Did you know the Entertainer's getting his own show?


I can't wait to laugh at him. In perfectly good taste.

Ricky Sprague said...

I didn't know for sure that "the Entertainer" would be getting his own show, but I suspected it. I am certain I will tune in. VH1 does a fairly good job of casting their "love" shows- they go for the more outrageous characters, which is one reason I prefer those to the "classy" network dating shows like "The Bachelor" et al.

I wouldn't have watched "More to Love" if I hadn't read that hate-filled "review" first. Now I've seen it once I don't have to watch it again.

Ricky Sprague said...

shampoo: I'm glad to read that your weight has stabilized. I hope that you're happy and healthy now.

I've been "skinny" my whole life. When I was a kid, I got picked on for it. I tried to gain weight. In high school, I spent a lot of time lifting weights. Ate a lot. I just don't have the body type for it.

I know I really lucked out- I'd rather have the body type I have than one that was prone to overweight/obesity. Still, it really frosts me when people complain that overweight people lack will power etc, and completely discount the role of genetics.

shampoo said...

ricky sprague, it seems even as they're being told it's genetics they complain about will power. I can't will my hair to be another color so why should other things be different? after I got off the steroids I dropped the weight I couldn't drop before really easily. I never got really huge, but because of the way I gained it I maybe seemed bigger than I was.. I was a frail fat person. haha

I don't know what this chick is smoking, but people make fun of fat people (and you don't need to be all that fat) all the time. like her article. haha

the very sad part of this show is it looks like the producers tried to take some nice photos of the cast and people won't even let them have that. I know people make fun of other shows' casts, but it's usually not this mean right away. plus, they're SAYING they are fat upfront. if the entertainer would say he was a greasy loser moron up front.. oh, that'd be awesome.

shampoo said...

weight aside, it bothers me that this woman keeps calling the contestants "concubines" and so on. that's so rude.

just being on this show means they are now reality hos (woot!), but that certainly does not tranlate into them being actual prostitutes or even sluts.

even when I say "hotestant" I don't mean past what i'm seeing on my tv (and i'm talking about people on vh1 some of whom have admitted things). I'm not the morality police and neither is miss skinnyman.

hookers are people, too, so even if they were... but, still. just too mean. she better HOPE they aren't the real thing or she has a beatdown on the way. haha

Miss Malevolent said...

Well I'm fat.

And this show is just like all the other reality dating shows...a chance for attention whores to be in the spot light.

It's just these attention whores are overweight.

Can't wait for your analysis each week.

A.Jaye said...

Haha Ricky. Looks like you're going to have to watch it again.