One of the things that drives me insane about the media, among many, many things that drive me similarly insane, is the way fat people are portrayed. If it’s not patronising so-called reality TV shows like ‘Fat Families’ or ‘Obese – a year to save my life’ it’s the stereotypical fat women in soaps. I’m talking about Eastenders with their ‘unlucky in love but with a heart of gold’ Hev, a bit dim, obsessed with cheese and George Michael and ultimately ‘tragic’.
In your average soap or sit-com, any attempt by a fat woman (or a man) to do anything fitness-related is farcical. I still remember when Grant Mitchell tried to make Nigel go jogging with him. And when Barry Evans tried to get fit for Janine. Of course, they didn’t keep it up, they huffed and they puffed and they ended up in Beales Caff eating a bacon buttie. Because that’s what fat people do, isn’t it?
Fat people need a better press. I don’t know any overweight people who sit around all day eating. Most of us have jobs to do, families to look after, social lives to live. We also have fitness classes to go to! I know a curvy girl who is a total yoga babe. I know big girls who Zumba with the best of them. I have one well-rounded friend who cycles for miles and loves every minute of it. I’ve rediscovered the gym in the last two months and I’m really enjoying it.I love my Body Balance classes and I love the feeling I get from pounding the hell out of the treadmill and really pushing myself. I’m fit too. Get over it!
It’s stereotypes like Hev, and all the jolly, fat, pie-eating people (and miserable pie-eaters on ‘reality TV’) that scare normal overweight people away from the gym. How often do you hear big, and not so big people say, “I couldn’t go to a gym because I can’t stand the thought of all the skinny girls looking down their noses at me”?
Newsflash: They don’t. Trust me. The skinny women are there doing exactly what the overweight ones are there for – working out. I’ve never once felt uncomfortable working out in any of the places I’ve been in, and they range from swetay cheap gyms to big posh fitness gyms, spa gyms and leisure centres. OK, that’s a lie – there was one time about 15 years ago when I was lying on my back, doing ab-crunches, legs akimbo, and just happened to see one of my biggest ever school crushes through my splayed thighs. He said hello. I blushed. The shame!
Why aren’t there more people on TV and in films doing what normal fat people do, that is, living a normal, healthy life, just in a slightly bigger body?