Netflix and the creators of new show “Insatiable” are facing backlash because many view the show as body shaming toward fat people. The plot: Patty (Debby Ryan, in a fat suit), is bullied by her peers for being fat. Then a homeless man punches her in the face over a candy bar. Doctors wire her mouth shut to heal. After she cannot eat, she becomes skinny and stereotypically ‘hot.’ With her new body, Patty decides to get revenge the people who bullied her when she was fat. People are criticizing the show for projecting the already-overwhelming narrative that fat people can’t be hot, popular or desirable while they’re fat. Many think the show promotes the idea that you need to not eat to be skinny.
An online petition calling for the cancellation of the show already has over 44,000 signatures for its goal of 50,000.
An op-ed for Teen Vogue, Claire Dodson says the show “reflects all the stereotypes people already have about fat women.” She references discrimination against fat people in society at the doctor, at clothing stores and in the job market. She acknowledges that “Insatiable” is marketed as “satire.” But she says the trailer promotes problematic views about being fat to young fat girls, who already face enough discrimination in society. She also calls out the show for putting not-fat Debby Ryan in a fat suit, which are typically used to make fat people the punchline.
The show’s creator, Lauren Gussis, says the show is based on her own experience with an eating disorder.
Debby Ryan retweeted the tweet and seems to share her sentiments.
— Lauren Gussis (@GussisLauren) July 21, 2018
However, many responders on Twitter aren’t buying it.
Why wasn’t this role given to a plus size female instead of having someone wearing fat suit who has no idea what it’s like to be plus size?
— Sammy Lynn (@ifangrlx) July 21, 2018
"Now I could be the former fatty that turned into a brain or an athlete.. or a princess" Clearly implies that she would not have been able to be any of those things while fat, which is so obviously damaging to impressionable minds. Not sure how context can change that but 🤷♀️
— kass (@kassidymeeler) July 21, 2018
With so much backlash before the show even releases any episodes, it’s unclear what the show’s future holds.
When Netflix released “To The Bone,” a movie about anorexia, it received a lot of backlash for being an inaccurate and irresponsible depiction of an eating disorder. Shows that claim they’re ‘satire,’ while still promoting stereotypically discriminatory narratives usually don’t stick around very long. Remember the short-lived Heathers TV reboot? Mainly, people just want a new narrative for fat people. One where they don’t have to lose weight to be the hero or positive protagonist.
Can we get a show where a fat character gets Revenge on everyone who’s shitty to them while still being fat, and is recognized as badass and funny and super hot, because that would be something actually fresh and cool and not the lukewarm watery oatmeal that is Insatiable
— ✨Birthday In 2 Days!✨ (@RoAnnaSylver) July 19, 2018
Also published on Medium.