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Slate critic: “On reality television, fat people are the new gay people.”

Slate critic: “On reality television, fat people are the new gay people.”
Slate’s Dana Stevens/Liz Penn (two names are better than one) argues that “[o]n reality television, fat people are the new gay people.” After abandoning mocking the gays, she says “the evil forces that plot new reality shows have now turned their attention to a new sideshow attraction: the overweight.” Her evidence includes NBC’s The Biggest Loser, VH1’s Flab to Fab, and Top Model‘s Toccara, which all “share a deep ambivalence toward excess flesh, seeking to eliminate it even as they depend on it for their very existence.” In these shows, she says executives “have created reality programming that capitalizes on Americans’ fear and hatred of their bodies, making the differently sized the stars of a freak show.” She writes that “sacrificial calf” Toccara faced challenges that “blatantly handicap heavier women” as she “simultaneously represented the identification with larger-sized bodies and the cultural need to punish those who possess them.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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