Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Huge. Again.

Yeah. I am so boring that all I have to write about is television.
Second episode of Huge. There are things to like.
I've been reading other fat activist commentary and reaction, some of which given without a viewing of the show. There is the fundamental issue of how fat positive can a show about a diet camp be and I am with that concern. But I also think that the show is portraying some of the issues in fat life in a very subtle and even moving manner.
The intersection of food addiction and fat politics is problematic. In every gathering of fat community I've ever attended someone has whispered to me about their food addiction. On the one hand, maybe fat community isn't the place for that conversation. On the other hand the fact that a fat person can feel so unsafe to talk about it feels sad. The whole - no diet talk - position feels silencing and heavy handed. On the other hand, I've been on fat political list serves and forums in which someone blathers about their diet and exercise habits and it can become annoying. Sometimes when I'm writing about fat politics I feel the need to make a statement about my own feelings about food and exercise because I have very strong feelings about what constitutes good food. I'm less interested in talking about exercise but generally speaking I think moving is a good thing.
Our relationship with food is part of our experience. Most fat people have some diet history. Placing the show in a diet camp seems reasonable to me. And. It is a worry.
The manager of the camp has her own diet history and it seems to be linked to her relationship with her father. There was a moment when she was trying to write an email to her mother and ate a small muffin without noticing. I've had that experience. I have been eating and spaced out. It hasn't happened to me in a long time but I have had that experience. For some people it's a daily occurrence and source of concern. It is a real experience and was nicely portrayed.
The show may overly problematize food. And that would be a drag. It does seem like they also point out how overwrought things can be in many ways. In the first episode the tent councilor confiscates anything that might be "food", like gum, breath mints. When she asks if a toothpick is flavored she seems crazy. In last nights episode a package from home needs to be inspected for possible contraband.
I always have the same reaction. Instead of infantalizing why not empower? Why not try to engage people in a deep understanding of food and cooking? I sometimes feel at odds with the fat activist community because I am critical of what I call crap food. And I doubt I'd have much credibility in food political movements because ... I'm fat. What's a girl ta do?
The show has created so many interesting relationship story lines and is full of subtle moments. In last nights episode the not-really-fat and very pretty girl notices the younger sister of a new camper checking her own belly size in a mirror and has a look of concern. It's a fleeting moment. Easy to miss.
The thing that really worries me is the new campaign being launched from the show. They're talking about "living" to your fullest and there is a diet and exercise message.
So far I think the show is dynamic and interesting. Is it fat positive? Not exactly. Is it about the lives of fat people? Somewhat.
I have always wanted us to find a way to talk about food and food issues in the fat political community. It's not a simple conversation. But if we aren't a part of the conversation the people who think we need to be thin to be healthy own the debate.

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