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October 28, 2003


Fat Like Me, Fat Like Meredith Vieira

Since I am still TiVo-less, I was forced to decide last night between watching Joe Millionaire, possibly the slowest, most intellect-sucking show available, and ABC's news special "Fat Like Me", which explores childhood obesity in America. Since I'm interested in what obese kids go through every day, and in the financial and operational burden that will be put on our public health system over the next 50 years as our current 10 million obese children grow up, and diabetes, strokes, heart disease, bone and joint disorders, and hypertension problems go through the roof, I chose ABC. The specal was hosted by Meredith Vieira, who reveals that she was overweight as a girl. The show was based on research by Prevention magazine about what factor most influences how kids stay healthy in the first place, and how kids with weight problems can change. Take a guess. THEIR PARENTS. Especially when parents do not struggle with their weight, it turns out that they can be the greatest obstacle kids have to overcome in trying to lose weight, especially when parents are giving their kids bad food, not encouraging them to have any respect for themselves, and are even ridiculing their own children. For kids to change, parents and entire families have to change, which is generally not what parents of obese kids want to hear.

Of course, another source of agony for these kids is every single other person they encounter every day of their lives. The show set up an experiment in which a thin, pretty girl from the Bronx puts on a fat suit and makeup, and goes to school for one day in Stratford, Connecticut. Stratford is not a particularly snotty town. It's very racially mixed, and most kids at the public high school probably come from working- and middle-class families. And, of course, they are immediately mean to this girl and pretend she's not there. The girl in the fat suit is in tears before she even gets to the school because she can predict how terrible her day is going to be. However, she gets to go back to the school the next day and reveal herself as the socially-acceptable thin girl she is and tell them all how it felt to be snubbed--an outcome about 10 million other kids in America probably wish they could have too.

categories: Culture
posted by amy at 2:53 PM | #


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