Thursday, 5 May 2011

bodies are NEVER embarassing

i don't bother watching much tv during weekdays, because there isn't too much i can be bothered to watch. i don't like the extreme violence in a lot of the crime dramas and i don't like the agressive nastiness in some of the reality tv shows. i still enjoy masterchef, sometimes i'll watch supernanny and i like good legal dramas & i'll watch movies.

but there is some stuff on tv these days which really appals me. i haven't watched these shows, all i've seen is advertisements or listings. it's enough to me make me feel queasy. the first one that i really hate is "the big fat family challenge". every ad i see about this programme is so awfully buying into the stereotype of linking fatness with laziness. and yes, i'm sure there are people who are fat and lazy, but then there are also people who are thin and lazy. there aren't any shows about them, or at least not any i've seen advertised.

but even worse than this is a new show that's to be screened called "embarassing teen bodies". i can't help it, i did literally feel sick when i read the title & description of this programme. really, we have to label bodies embarassing now, when they don't conform? and guess the gender of the bodies that are going to be featured in this first programme - go on, have a guess.

yup, here you go:

The doctors meet a young mother whose weight is out of control, a girl with too much body, and a girl who cannot stop pulling it out. [emphasis added]

yeah, i'm not even going to speculate on what "it" might be. just what we need, more messaging that anything out of the ordinary is to be put on show for our viewing pleasure. so that we can judge and shake our heads. and double points for targetting young people who are often already feeling vulnerable and insecure as they forge a path into adulthood.

there are plenty more programmes of this nature - the ones featuring morbidly obese people or people with other body issues. as i say, i don't watch them, so i'm ready to concede that the purpose of some of these programmes might be to help us to identify with and appreciate the courage of people dealing with challenging circumstances. they may also provide some education about various health or medical issues. if they're done with a respect for the individual and without nasty judgemental language, then i'd have no problem with these shows..

but i suspect many of these programmes seek to appeal to that part of human nature that allowed the old circus "freak shows" to exist. it's that part of us that wants to look at others who we think are unfortunate, just so we can feel better about our selves. that part of ego that needs to feel superior to others, because the thought of us being inferior ourselves is unbearable. can it be that we really have not evolved as much as we think we have?

not only that, but these shows feed into that general anxiety we have about our bodies & about not being good enough, which fuels the cosmetics and weight loss industries. the message that imperfection is inferiority becomes engraved in the collective consciousness. when attention continuously focussed on how we look, we are less likely to attend to more serious issues. when that message is constantly hitting us from the various mediums, it becomes so much harder to fight.

yes, i know i don't have to watch it, and that i can turn off the tv. i can't, however, turn off the culture reinforced by these programmes, where people are ridiculed and shamed because of their bodies. and i know that people have consented to share their stories and know what they are in for. but i've never been one to agree with the notion that because people have consented to their own exploitation and humiliation, that we should therefore feel free to exploit and humiliate them.

i'm not, however, advocating censorship. i'd much prefer if people would just please stop watching this nonsense, so that it doesn't get produced any more.


Anonymous said...

"i'd much prefer if people would just please stop watching this nonsense, so that it doesn't get produced any more."

I predict that won't happen. However I do also believe we'll be seeing more of a gender balance in these shows. Attractiveness-enhancing products and services are being increasingly marketed to and taken up by men and boys. TV shows which showcase the dire consequences of being unattractive will no doubt boost the appeal of those products and services.

And of course, freak shows remain popular.

Scuba Nurse said...

thanks so much for this.
I also cringed when I saw the ad for this. life is awkward enough without building that crap up in the media.