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Not New News, But Still Unbelievable: Tyra Banks Edition: Fatsploitation

August 4, 2011

Ah Tyra Banks. How exactly did you get a talk show? And with such brilliant episodes such as the one above, featuring “Fatsploitation” (which, by the way, I believe you coined that term! Bravo!), how did you not become the next Oprah?! I’m stunned.

I realize this is a long clip, but let me assure you that it is worth your while (Disclaimer: if you have absolutely nothing else you could be doing with your time). At the beginning, Tyra announces that these women “show off their big and beautiful selves…while others say they are victims of fatsploitation.” From the first obese nude model referring to herself as a “person of size” (a term I have not really heard before, but shall heretoforth enter into my vocabulary) to Tyra going on an insane rant about how this is exploitation because of the LACK OF LIGHTING in the photography to a showdown between a thin traditional model and the obese model for “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle” to a 525 pound woman shaking her groove thang in lingerie all over the place…this clip is the holy grail of ridiculousness.

So, this is just part I of the episode, and I will do another post on part II later, but…this is one of the most absurd things I have ever witnessed. And that’s saying a lot. I am not saying “absurd” in the sense of the actual content, which could actually be fascinating and very important, but in the presentation of the material. Yes, it’s a talk show and is designed to sensationalize and attract as much attention as possible, but really? This is a hot mess. And I just have so many endless questions from these 9 minutes of ludicrousness. How exactly is it exploitation if the women are consensually profiting off this business? Why is Tyra SO shocked that people are disgusted by obese models and not by superskinny models when her own show (America’s Next Top Model) promotes the latter? Why is it so impossible to promote an actual healthy lifestyle and not fetishize the extremes? And who on earth gave Tyra a talk show?!

One youtube commenter has an interesting (although not exactly well-phrased) point on this subject(which is a rarity for youtube commenters):

I don’t have ANYTHING against overweight and neither [do] I have anything against underweight, what is important is to be healthy, no matter what angle you view these ladies from they are NOT healthy. This doesn’t have anything to do with looks or being ashamed of what you look like, these women are proudly showing of their unhealthy lifestyle and that is something I can’t respect.

Interesting because that is a point of contention in the video (“I have a real problem with the word FAT…I am HAPPY and proud with the way I look”) but devolves into a very uncomfortable yelling match with a woman who had gastric bypass to deal with her weight and does not approve of these obese women reveling in their unhealthiness and thus is hard to really take in the point. But (for once in my life) I agree with the youtube commenter, that healthy lifestyles need to be promoted and people on either end of the extreme are doing a disservice to that. Phew. I need a nap from all this mess. (Personal Note: If you watch Tyra in the bathtub while sipping wine, it makes the whole experience much more tolerable.) But, keep your eyes peeled for Fatsploitation Part II…you know you want it.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. TBM permalink
    August 4, 2011 3:48 pm

    I really felt that I was losing brain cells while I was watching that video. Please take me back to the time before I knew Tyra had her own talk show.

  2. TBM permalink
    August 4, 2011 3:54 pm

    Also, to build on what that astute youtube commenter said, why can’t the focus be on moderation? An eating disorder is an eating disorder, if it makes you unhealthily skinny or unhealthily overweight. This is not a looks issue – it’s a life-or-death one.

  3. August 4, 2011 8:57 pm

    I can’t bring myself to watch it, but I think I get the jist. Here’s my issue with the whole (in my opinion, absolutely absurd) “Beauty at Any Size,” “Health at Any Size” flag that seems to be waving constantly: it only applies to the overweight/obese camp. There are plenty of 250+ lb. women who sloganeer that you can be beautiful and healthy at “any” size, but I doubt any of them would say that a 90-lb. anorexic is beautiful or healthy. Nor should they…but why is it a double standard? And it is that camp who also criticize normal weight people who follow a nutrition/fitness plan. At a muscular, lean 140 lbs., size 7, I have three overweight /obese “frenemies” telling me that I’m “too skinny” and “look gaunt” and “should eat more.” When it comes to modeling, that’s not the real world…at either end of the spectrum. “Plus size” models are a size 10 or 12, high fashion models are skeletal sub-zeros. Obesity in the real world has become normalized; every picture in every magazine (including the fitness magazines) have been airbrushed to high heaven, “food” has been processed beyond recognition into semi-edible addictive slow-acting poison and people demolish pints of ice cream washed down with diet Coke while sitting on the couch watching “the Biggest Loser” or, god help us, Tyra, in the hopes of being inspired.

  4. jenmarie permalink
    August 4, 2011 11:20 pm

    This is upsetting on so many levels…I don’t even know where to begin. I couldn’t make it through the whole clip. Talks shows like this are a potent reminder of how skewed our priorities and values are in this country. It’s hard to go from watching news clips about devastating famine in Africa to seeing a 300+ pound woman arguing that big is beautiful. I look at the obesity epidemic in our country and think, we are literally wearing our waste on our bodies. Usually, I might try to have some more compassionate or thoughtful commentary on the issues brought up by this footage…but today I’m just disheartened. Tyra, I know you won’t be leaving the airwaves anytime soon, but could you please use some of your power for good?! We need all the positive change we can get in this crazy world…and I don’t think this is helping.

  5. Fedora permalink
    August 5, 2011 9:11 pm

    Dear HangryHippo,
    Thank you for your advice on the wine in the tub. While this is not a foreign idea to me, I do not think it gets enough attention in the media. I also think if word about it spread, our economy would greatly benefit. Reasoning-
    1.) Wine sales would sky rocket
    2.) Tub sales would sky rocket
    3.) Unbreakable Wine glass sales would sky rocket.
    I was recently at a dinner party where the host accidently broke her wine glass. There were several problems with this.
    1.) None of us were in a tub at the time we were drinking wine.
    2.) She had just bought the glass that day and the dollar store does not do returns.

    Please keep spreading the word. I really dont care what kind of lifestyles people live, because I will learn about them while drinking wine in the tub. I dont care what you do, just dont mess with my bath&grapes time.



  1. Not New News, But Still Unbelievable: The Tyra Edition: Fatsploitation Part II « Hangry Hippo
  2. Happy 1st Birthday, HangryHippo!!! « Hangry Hippo

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