Have you seen the new FOX reality show, More to Love? It is a new dating competition where FOX has joined with producer Mike Fleiss of The Bachelor where a group of plus size women compete for a relationship with a plus size man.
I have been a Bachelor fan since its first season. When I saw previews for this new eight week program, I had mixed feelings. Part of me thought, "Good! Now the REAL size ladies can have a shot." Then I immediately became annoyed, thinking, "Why can't they be on the REGULAR Bachelor?" Why point out their weight with a "Fat girl Bachelor"? Because they would be rejected over the hot thin girls, that's why! Sad, but most likely true. I imagined the pool scenes with the bikinis. Then I got perturbed that they have been selected for this new show because of their size.
I think the point is supposed to be that people who are not a size 2, or who don't have perfect model bodies and beauty are also looking for love and romance with "that special person". Great. There is a lot of controversy over this program already. Are we saying, "It is ok to be overweight, you're still beautiful"? Or are we putting heavy women on display with the premise that this is the only way these chubby girls are going to get a date?
I tried to watch the first episode with an open mind. At first it seemed like Luke is a nice guy. He complemented each lady as he met her. Many giggles and shocked looks, as most of the contestants are not used to hearing complements about their appearance from men. The women were attractive, some were quite beautiful, and they seemed to be confident and comfortable with themselves. Weights were posted as they exited the limo (from 180 to 270 lbs.). I thought, "That took some courage and good self-esteem. Good for you!" As the show progressed, the women confessed (often tearfully) to NEVER having had a date, being rejected by men, being passed over for their "skinny girlfriends" and never having been in a relationship. They expressed fears of "being alone forever", somewhat desperately claiming they "have a lot to give". Clearly the weight issues come with self-esteem issues. There was even some "thin bashing". "Who wants someone who looks like a stick?" Stereotypes and prejudice are alive and well.
I am disturbed, but want to see how this plays out. The fact that these women were chosen based on their size is upsetting. Of course they all deserve to be loved. DUH! Given the statistics of obesity in this country, obviously many overweight people date, fall in love, get married and have children. Many of us can relate to the angst of not liking SOMETHING physical about ourselves. Other reality shows like Beauty and the Geek and Average Joe focused on the "less beautiful" male contestants with a hot bachelorette dating them. More to Love will not address diet or exercise, and claims it will not try to slim these girls down. There will be the usual bathing suit, hot tub, and massage scenes in the next few weeks. I'm sure we'll also see plenty of catfights and drama.
I also question the idea that the bachelor himself is overweight. Does this imply that only a "big guy" would be attracted to a "big girl"? I'm concerned for some of the girls who seem so emotionally fragile. At the "ring ceremony" at the end of the episode, the fear in the women's eyes was more than "I might be sent home". It was heartbreaking to watch and hear their fears that if eliminated, they might never have another man look at them...EVER! We don't see this kind of fear on The Bachelor. I also question viewers reasons for watching. There are many overweight women who will relate to these ladies (I did!). There are some who will watch with pity, or worse, disgust. Some may watch to say, "At least I don't look like THAT in a bathing suit!"
The Biggest Loser is quite popular. People seem to like to see overweight people losing weight, working out with sometimes sadistic trainers who push them to their maximum potential. They are on their way to becoming slimmer, and hence healthier and "more attractive" people. Is being a "plus size" really a deal–breaker in dating? It was a question for one contestant on Dating in the Dark. (Obviously I have been watching too many reality TV shows!) Those crazy women on The Housewives of Atlanta get their own show, and these woman don't get to go out with someone nice. Go figure!
I hope that the women are not MORE traumatized and rejected when they leave the show. I hope the women realize that they are beautiful and lovable, that they can improve their health and fitness IF THEY CHOOSE TO, and that they are smart, fun, and lovely, just as they are.
I really think all of these shows need an on–site therapist. Maybe I should work out a deal...