Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 4:39 pm
Author: Renee Martin
If someone was unfamiliar with the demographics of the United States and watched an evening of television, they would be likely to believe that no overweight people actually exist within the nation’s borders. With the exception of Camryn Manheim on “Ghost Whisperer,” one would be hard-pressed to find a character portrayed by a full-figured woman. And even in her highly visible role, Manheim is simply the long-suffering friend and is certainly not constructed as a leading woman, or one that is sexy and adventurous; such roles are left for skinny actresses.
This week, FOX debuted “More to Love” – its answer to the erasure of full-figured women in prime-time television. The show has been advertised as a reconstruction of “The Bachelor.” the supposed twist being that this time, women that are considered fat are allowed to pursue a man. The role of “The Bachelor” on “More to Love” has been assumed by a former college football offensive lineman, Luke Conley, who stands 6’3″ and weighs over 300 pounds. He is twenty-six years old and works as a successful sub-contractor. He is also a prominent real estate investor in California, his home state.
Luke professes that the reason he came on the show was to find love, and that he has not allowed hang-ups about his body to keep him from being successful. While large men face their own types of discrimination, the nature of male privilege ensures that their plight can’t be compared to the body-policing that women endure daily. Even women who are considered beautiful often appear in fashion magazines Photoshopped to appear even slimmer, whereas fat women are commanded to utterly hide themselves from view.
On “More to Love,” each buxom beauty was given a brief spot where she was able to articulate her dating traumas to Luke. In a sea of tears, many revealed that their skinnier girlfriends always seemed to land a boyfriend or go home with the guy, while some claimed they had never even been on a date. Their failures, of course, were blamed on the rampant fat hatred that is socially condoned. The contestants reeked of desperation for anyone possessing a penis to legitimize their existence.
Luke made sure to let the viewers know that he was in his element because he did not want a woman that was “perpetually dieting.” He is so comfortable with full-figured women that he announced a love for blondes, brunettes and redheads, which largely excludes women of color – few were chosen to participate and all appeared to be very light-skinned. And yep, Luke is clearly looking for an equal, despite the fact that he cannot acknowledge the adulthood of these women and settles for continually referring to them as “girls.”
After the introductions, each woman was given a diamond promise ring. Say it with me, everyone: how sweet. The ring supposedly symbolizes his promise to keep an open heart and accept the “girls” for who they are. Knowing very little about Luke does not stop these women from gushing about how kind he is, or what an amazing man he is, solely for daring to admit he is attracted to fat women. These women are just so thrilled to get a ring slapped on their fingers, they ignore that Luke is just as capable of being a sexist idiot as any other man.
As the evening progresses, Luke does the rounds, making small talk with as many women as possible, and yes, the Cock in a Hen House analogy is appropriate. Luke makes sure to secure a kiss from most of the women during the meet-and-greets. I don’t think that Captain Kirk could have done any better in a group of green-skinned women than this lounge lizard on the make. One woman, not satisfied that she has made enough of an impression on Luke the Charmer, jumps into the pool — evening gown and all. The other contestants take the time to call her a “wet otter,” a brief indication of the cattiness to come as they each compete for the “man of their dreams.”
All of this joy could not be allowed to continue unabated, and at the end of the night, Luke is forced to send five of his fabulous beauties packing. The ladies all turn in their rings and wait patiently as he hands them out to the individuals he has chosen to advance to the next round. As each woman holds her breath, each that is saved from elimination is earnestly asked whether they will do Luke the honour of wearing his ring. In terms of the gag-o-meter, this scene is a certain ten.
FOX has gone out of its way to make this show appear as though it is progressive, yet it clearly seeks to capitalize on the women’s desperation. It is as though the camera has been cued to shoot the exact minute tears start rolling. Is it at all possible that these women have bigger issues than their weight which have led to their continued status of being single? Could low self-esteem be more unattractive than the bodies they claim to hate?
Why did FOX choose a large man to date full-figured women? Is it impossible to picture an average size man who pursues plus-sized women? There is no better way to show that these women just don’t fit in than by pushing the myth that only a large man could find fat women attractive. Despite presenting itself as a progressive network willing to show women of various sizes as beautiful, FOX pushes the social meme that a larger woman will settle for anything with a dick and a pulse. Heaven forbid the media accept that there are larger women who are not willing to settle because they actually know that they are people of value.
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