Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Trapped Inside

Yesterday, I got to go to something kind of cool.  Lifetime/Sony had a bloggers meet and greet with the stars of their new show Drop Dead Diva, Margaret Cho and Brooke Elliott.

I was excited to go because I’ve always thought Margaret Cho was hysterical and amazing (and she is).  Beyond that, I was a bit wary.  I’d read the description of the show quickly on Lifetime’s homepage and thought, “oh, no”.  It’s a show about a skinny, shallow woman who dies and is sent back to earth to inhabit the body of a smart, cool fat chick (I’m so sure the people at Lifetime wouldn’t approve of that description – check out my link to read the ‘more appropriate’ one).  Brooke Elliott is the fat chick in question and Margaret Cho is her assistant.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised (Not that I’ve seen the show yet – and probably won’t for a while. As my regular readers and twitter followers know, I don’t watch much regular TV but instead am addicted to hulu for when I can’t sleep – I’m always a few years behind everyone else on TV.).  But I liked the way they talked about the show.  Rather than being about fat jokes (which I feared it might be, because in TV and movies fat usually equals funny and self-mockery) the show is more about self-acceptance and different images of beauty.  Which, of course, makes me think it won’t last past a season and will land on everyone’s shows that were awesome but cancelled list.

Two themes came up in the discussion that really hit home for me (yeah, I know, I’m one of those skinny bitches who eats fried foods and cookies all day – so how dare I relate?).  At one point one of the other bloggers mentioned the fact that it was kind of a shame that the only way Lifetime could/would do a show with a plus-sized heroine was to do it around the gimmick that she has a skinny girl trapped inside of her.  And that wasn’t it funny/odd/sad how this was exactly what so many overweight people say, that they have a skinny person trapped inside of them just dying to get out.

Brooke Elliott replied that she doesn’t think that’s what all overweight people really mean when they say that.  The “skinny” person trapped inside of them is really shorthand for the beauty that they know is within them and it may be related to losing some weight (My addition. She did not mention losing weight.  Everyone there very specifically did not ever mention losing weight, which honestly I think was unrealistic.  I know very few people are naturally my size.  I am small boned and right now have a speedy metabolism and so I am tiny.  But my mom was overweight and I know that one day my metabolism could slow down and I might put on weight.  I doubt I’d work hard to stay my current size.  That seems unrealistic.  But IMHO, everyone has a size that they can feel comfortable and beautiful and happy at and for some people that’s a 6 and for others that’s a 12 and for others that 16 and for others… I think, just as it’s unrealistic for everyone to aspire to be a size 0, it’s unrealistic to think that someone who is overweight might not want to lose some weight as a way to feel physically better and better about themselves) or just investing more time in their appearance.

Anyway, this skinny person trapped inside concept and how it just represented the beauty trapped inside a person sent my mind back to The Top 3 Things I Learned in Dating Boot Camp.  Number 2 on that list was that men are attracted to confidence.  I can think of a lot of women I know who are in the size 12 plus range who have no trouble attracting men.  And it’s because they know they’re beautiful.  They’re not stuck on the idea that they have skinny women trapped inside of them.  They’re happy with the bodies they have.

OK, I’m pretty sure those last two paragraphs were incoherent.  Sorry, need more coffee.

The other thing that really stood out for me is that Brooke’s love interest on the show will be a total hottie.  And that we pretty much never see in-shape/hot guys with overweight women on TV or in films (whereas we see plenty of the reverse).  This is something we’ve talked about on this blog, several times, in the comments.  I think it’s pretty damn awesome.

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6 to “Trapped Inside”

  1. damiella says:

    Uh, Brook Elliot is not fat. Maybe it’s the styling and the way the photos I saw were shot, but while she is not skinny, she looks barely plus-sized (and considering how much weight the camera adds is probably average-sized in real life).

    You are extremely lucky that you get to eat crap and stay thin, but please have a little sensitivity towards other folks that have to work really hard to maintain their desired size and towards curvy women in general. It’s hypocritical for you to laude a show you hope will do something positive for female body image by using a word some find insulting to describe the female lead. As a female writer trying to convey a positive message for this show, I would have expected different language. And yes, there are some overweight women who don’t find the word “fat” offensive, but have a little respect for the ones who do. (And for the record, I am neither “skinny” nor “fat.”)

  2. Simone Grant says:

    I think Brooke Elliott is gorgeous (I probably should have put that in the post, but I mean anyone who looks at the link can see for themselves – she IS gorgeous). But by our societies standards she is overweight, plus-sized, full-figured – pick your euphemism. I firmly believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I think I’ve always made that clear on the blog (and it was one of the points of this post – clearly I didn’t do a good job with making that point).

    I’m not a big fan of tiptoeing around issues or being overly polite. Fat is a word. It”s the word our culture most often uses when a women isn’t “thin”. As I mentioned, my mom was overweight and I don’t doubt that at some point my metabolism will slow down and I’ll gain weight. And so what- I’ll be fat. There was a women in the room yesterday from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and I thought she was kind of awesome.

    If you or anyone else is offended by this post or by my use of the word fat – I’m sorry to have offended you. I almost didn’t write it for fear of offending people (I couldn’t write it and be completely politically correct – that’s not me). I decided to do it, just like I do lots of things on this blog that some people find offensive or don’t approve of. I’m not sorry about that.

  3. Veka says:

    I saw this show advertised for the first time a few days ago, and I thought to myself that of all the new shows coming out (I typically blow them off) this one actually intrigued me and I am interested in watching it. And I did think to myself that Brooke Elliott was very pretty when I saw the previews. I don’t think that “pretty” is defined by big or small. Pretty is pretty. And she is pretty :)

  4. SpikeTheLobster says:

    I will break with the crowd here, and I know it. Why? Because I think it’s about time television stopped producing crap like this. Contrary to what the pitch-makers will have you believe, this kind of series actually reinforces bad ideas. The only way – and I mean the ONLY way – to deal with self-image problems is to stop talking about ugly, fat, skinny, tall, short, old, young and any other descriptor as if one were better than another.

    All this series will do is enforce the fact that television doesn’t have a clue about real life. It will make people think fat people are funny because they have to be, to make up for not being thin. It will make people believe that fat people can be successful, too… who ever came up with the idea that they couldn’t? Oh yes… television. It will reinforce social norms created to sell stuff.

    As for the sensitivity issue – fat is a word, Damiella, not a character definition. I’m skinny. My lady’s fat. So what? Tiptoeing around things by calling people “weight-challenged” or other such bullshit politically-correct terms just adds to the problem. It has nothing to do with pseudo-psychological questions of positive thinking and body image, but more to do with marketing crap and commercially-produced pressure to be a certain way (which are then counteracted by other commercially-fired pressures to “help” those people).

    As Veka said: “Pretty is pretty.”

    Excuse the rant, but I’m sick to death of media people filling our lives with utter tripe about appearances being important. (Not you, Simone, of course, but the TV and cinema folks.)

    (By the way, the London Escorts comment is spam, milady.)

  5. Simone Grant says:

    Damn, I do my best to police spam – but there’s so damn much of it… (thanks for pointing this one out)

    As someone who’s not a big fan of pop culture in general (who are the Jonas brothers, btw, and why should I care?) I always feel somewhat removed from what’s on television, etc. But I do think it matters a bit. And I think it’s different here in the states. Having lived in the UK, I can say that what was traditionally shown on TV there (it’s changing now, of course, with Sky) was very different than what we had here. The first thing that struck me back when I was student in the UK was that the people on the television looked like real people. Both men and women. Anyway…

    I agree completely with both Veka and Spike that pretty is pretty but also feel there is an added dimension. Pretty comes from believing you are pretty. A woman who believes she is unattractive might have a few admirers who can see her beauty, but until she sees her own beauty, it’s usually kept a secret. And sadly there are many girls/women in our society (especially the younger ones) who have a hard time seeing themselves as pretty because they don’t look like the pretty women on television. I know I went through a period like that when I was younger. I think it could be a good thing for there to be many different images of beauty available on television, instead of just the traditional model thin/tall one. I’m not saying that having more realistic looking television characters will cut down on eating disorders among teenage girls, but it can’t hurt.

  6. SpikeTheLobster says:

    Absolutely, Simone! “it could be a good thing for there to be many different images of beauty available on television, instead of just the traditional model thin/tall one.”

    That’s entirely the point. Stop making TV series’ about “a thin girl” or “a fat girl” or “an ugly guy” – make them about a bunch of folks who are just people. Normal people. People who have personalities, not physical descriptions.

    I haven’t watched any TV for years (I own one, but it’s only attached to a DVD player, not an aerial), so can’t really comment on the current state of UK series. I do remember one of the most popular soaps – Eastenders – being full of people one would not normally see on TV, though. All very normal.