Netflix’s New Series ‘Insatiable’ Misinterprets Fat Shaming Issues
On the face of it Insatiable sounds like a fun revenge drama, centred on the clichéd “fat girl turns hot” formula. The trailer of this new Netflix series, however, is receiving backlash on the social media for misinterpreting fat shaming issues. As per the trailer, the high school teenager Patty (Debby Ryan), is shamed and bullied by her schoolmates for her weight. Tired of being mistreated and ignored, Patty undergoes drastic physical transformation by having her “jaw wired shut” one summer. But now that she is thin and hot, Patty doesn’t want to be an athlete or school diva. She instead wants revenge on all those who made her life miserable.
The trailer of Insatiable glorifies anti-fat bias. It tells teenaged girls that being fat makes them miserable and undesirable.
That the only way they can stop getting bullied is by giving in to the peer pressure and losing some weight. It romanticises revenge and upholds the notion that life has no purpose for girls with weight-issues. So if they want to be of any social relevance they must lose weight by hook or by crook. Such an approach to a delicate subject, no matter how quirkily done only worsens life for teens struggling with weight issues. It undermines their confidence and makes them see the behaviour of their bullies as justified. It makes them take drastic weight loss measures. What it doesn’t tell them, is that weight loss isn’t the solution to all your troubles.
- The trailer of Insatiable, playing on the usual trope of “fat girl loses weight to become hot” is receiving backlash on social media for misinterpretation of body shaming.
- But it ends up endorsing the notion that the only way teens with weight issues can become socially relevant is by losing weight.
- With so many teens struggling with weight issues must we not talk about changing the perception around weight than seeking revenge and using drastic measures of weight loss?
Having struggled with weight as a teen, and eventually losing it via a strict diet and exercise early in my twenties, I can vouch for this. Yes, the male attention does increase and suddenly people begin noticing your “beauty” (read figure). But how much can you associate with people who fail to see beyond your physical appearance?
In the end, it is the friends who stick with you through the thickest of waistlines who matter.
It is only when you lose those extra kilos that you realise that you weren’t the problem after all. It is the perception of those around you which is problematic. It is this obsession with superficial beauty standards, which reduces your identity to being fat or fit which is defective. It is time that we start telling these things to our teens, instead of motivating them to undergo desperate lifestyle changes for revenge bodies.
Besides, drastic weight loss doesn’t leave you with shiny, smooth shapely body. It leaves behind flabs of excess skin and may lead to severe health problems. You live in constant fear of gaining back your weight. It makes you more restless and sometimes paranoid. Besides life is not fun when your arch enemies are chocolate cake, pies and sugar dust. Perhaps a show against fat shaming shouldn’t be advertising extreme body transformation. No teen should walk down this hazardous path, even in the name of revenge.
Actor and activist Alyssa Milano, who is also part of the series, has defended Insatiable, saying it highlights the damage done by fat-shaming in a quirky way. But why must it concentrate on seeking revenge from abusive teens? Rather than try to change their perspective about weight issues? What good can come out of showing a fat girl gone thin and crazy for the blood of her tormentors?
The show is telling obese teens that if you’re fat you cannot be cool, fun, lovable and sexy. That you must lose weight if you want to floor others. That beauty inevitably is just skin deep. And that high school kids are so beyond redemption, that it is better to seek revenge than change their notions about beauty and body weight.
We can only hope that there is more to the show than we can make out from the trailer.
Photo Credit : Annette Brown/Netflix
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.