Chrissy Metz, Playbill, & Why the Fat Acceptance Movement Disappoints Me.

When I announced that I would start to blog again, I wanted to promise myself that I’d refrain from blogging about fat acceptance, the social (& physical) injustices that fat people experience daily, or my experiences in the social side of the fat community.

A few nights ago, a friend of mine who’s a writer for Playbill (the magazine you get handed to you when you see a Broadway show) contacted me.  I’m envious of her career because she gets to meet so many people involved in the arts.

She reached out to let me know that she’d had an opportunity to interview Chrissy Metz, who plays the character Kate on the TV show “This Is Us”, and asked me if I would take a minute or so to read the interview.  It was a busy day at work for me, and after sitting in a major traffic jam for over 2 1/2 hours as I was headed back to see my stepdaughter’s music concert, I told her that I’d read it in the morning, and give her my thoughts.

After a little discussion online, she mentioned to me that the fat acceptance community had come down in a heavy handed way on her interview with Metz.  She now had my exclusive attention.  Her character, Kate, on the show has gotten a lot of heat from the fat community since the show’s premiere this season.  From what I’ve read, the fat acceptance community has several issues with Metz, and the character she portrays:
1.   Her character is fat, but she hates herself because she’s fat.
2.  There are plans for both Metz & her character to lose weight via bariatric surgery.
3.  Her on again/off again boyfriend Toby is not fat, he wears a fat suit.

Before I go further, let me link you to the interview that my friend conducted.
http://www.playbill.com/article/why-chrissy-metz-says-we-need-more-art-based-around-weight

metz

I found the interview to be generally positive, inasmuch as Metz is saying there should be more fat people involved in the arts.  This is something I totally agree with, and hope that it happens soon, not only on screen & in music, but behind the scenes as well.

“Okay, so were the issues raised because of Metz herself, or did they have a problem with your interview as well?”  I asked.  According to her, there was some scorn over the following comment that’s in the interview:

“People need to see that they’re not crazy for either eating their feelings or contending with their weight for whatever emotions or issues they haven’t dealt with, because we all deal with them in a different way. You can’t move past something if you don’t deal with the problem”

wut

I dunno, I have heard FA get upset over accusations that people “eat their feelings”, but I also know people who swear up & down that it’s precisely the reason they’re fat.  I can’t really address the rightness or wrongness of the comment that Metz made, or the response from  Fat Acceptance leaders, but I do at least see both sides.

“So what was the issue with you as an interviewer?” I asked.

Evidently she was told that as an interview, she should have challenged Metz for taking a role that had a fat negative story line.  “Well, they do realize that this article was for Playbill, which is a completely different audience, right?”

Evidently, NO.

That’s part of the problem that I have with the movement in general these days.  There is no understanding that any social acceptance movement comes in increments, often very small.  I’d love to see FA advance quicker than the Civil Rights & Gay Rights movements, but a look at history would lead one to think that it won’t happen overnight.

The other issue I take is the refusal to see that not everyone in FA is on the same part of their journey, and may not be able to represent the movement in the same way, whether it’s taking on a role of a character who isn’t happy being fat (not that I think it’s the case with Metz, especially in light of using her notoriety to make a statement about having more fat people involved in the arts).

Let’s go back to Metz herself.  According to her backstory, prior to her taking on the role of Kate on “This Is Us”, she was down to 81 cents in her bank account.  Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone offers me an opportunity to pay my bills with a job that other people might not be happy with when I have less than a dollar in my bank account, I’m taking it.  Here’s an earlier interview with Metz where she talks about it.
http://www.glamour.com/story/this-is-us-chrissy-metz-always-be-grateful

Listen, I’m not thrilled that the best known fat character on TV is someone who hates their body and wants to mutilate their organs because they do, but I’m pretty damn happy that there is a really fat woman on TV who is speaking out about how more fat people should be there.  It’s not all that dissimilar to when Halle Berry accepted the first Academy Award for Best Actress won by a black woman in 2001, and she went back to all the other great actresses who preceded her, who blazed the trail, playing characters that may not always have been the best roles for black women, but opened the door for the many others that have now succeeded Berry’s award 16 years ago.

Maybe 20 years from now, Chrissy Metz and her character Kate might also be looked upon as trailblazers, when overweight/obese people are shown on TV in greater numbers.  Maybe then, the Fat Acceptance movement might finally back off of hammering people who are using their talent & abilities to further (albeit slowly) to further the cause.

Better yet, before you slam others for “selling out”, let me know when you’re down to 81 cents to your name…..

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