Monday, December 27, 2010

I used to be fat and MTV

I used to be fat. By my previous standards, I am fat again (but can at least blame this minor weight gain on having a baby). I was never particularly happy with my body but I never had a problem with who I am. I do, however, have a problem with the messages that are being sent by MTV.

MTV has a new show called "I used to be fat" which features recent high school graduates who want to lose weight and essentially try to become someone else before they start college. This sounds awful to me. I am all for self improvement and I feel strongly about being and living healthy but perpetuating the idea that if you are overweight you can not be happy is a serious bad move. We have a lot of issues with our American society but it really bothers me that there is no positive support for overweight, healthy people. I loved the movie "Real Women Have Curves" with America Ferrera but guess what-even she lost weight once she became a well known actress as did many other overweight actors and actresses. They all suggest that you will be left behind if you stay fat.

I understand wanting to lose weight and to look and feel good; I lost 49 pounds six years ago. The reason, however, had nothing to do with men, feeling or being attractive, or fitting in. I no longer felt comfortable, seeing as I had become shaped like a child's play block. Losing 49 pounds meant that I got down to a size 10, a size that is still considered to be too big for many women but I felt too small. Some friends commented that I looked odd and I felt odd. I gained a few pounds back over the year and started to look better. Most women would go into a downward spiral at that point. No one wants to address this obsession with size and fitting in. No one wants to address that men care less about how women look than most women are willing to admit. I had no shortage of male attention at any point in my life because I was happy, even when I was wearing overalls and I was shaped like a brick.

I feel that MTV is playing a huge part in the deterioration of self esteem in young people, even men. Is this new show supposed to give young overweight children hope that hey can lose weight? Maybe. It seems to me, though, to send the message that to be happy and successful you can't be fat. The show's tag-line blatantly says that they can "change who they are"- but why? Isn't college the time that you find out who you are, and why does who you are have to be tied to your body?

There is only one thing that I can support about this show but MTV does not mention this at all: the amount of fat cells that you have by the age of 21 is the amount you will have for the rest of your life. Here's one important thing to know about losing weight: you don't lose all those fat cells, you just shrink most of them. So losing a large amount of weight at a young age means there is a greater chance of keeping a lot of it off later in life with a minimal amount of effort.

Americans need to improve their health. Americans need to lose weight. Americans needs a better economy, need to stop blaming others and need to learn what true happiness is. However, at every turn there is someone with great influence ruining any true progress. I am going to watch the show and judge MTV and these poor kids in silence, and feel some sadness that these young people were never encouraged to find happiness within their normal and oversized bodies.


  1. As long as someone is healthy, weight doesn't matter that much. I have to lose more weight due to high blood pressure and cholestrol but if it wasn't for that I would stay fat :-)

  2. I agree with your last paragraph and appreciate your perspective, but let's be real here. MTV is concerned about ratings, period. I was sick this week, and I caught two of the episodes. I saw unhappy kids whose real problem was having no discipline at all in their lives. Spoiled and self-indulgent, these kids got a lot out of pushing themselves even if their goals were shallow. I'm also sure they will gain the weight back.
    I say this as a yo-yo dieter who always ended up heavier than I started. I have learned to adopt healthy eating habits and work out regularly, which still means I'm heavier than the media's ideal. I'd still love to have beautifully sculpted arms to show off a sleeveless gown, but I would have to starve to acheive that (I know; I did it before) and I value having a healthy body more. I have no desire to see just how high I could get that scale to climb with more yo-yo dieting.
    Best to you,


  3. I most definitely value health over anything else. I know that MTV and every other network on TV only care about ratings and I can't expect MTV to be socially responsible. But I can complain about it, and hope that if I get a couple of friends and a few readers talking about it, I can help someone learn a healthier way of living. I could hope.