I’m not afraid…I just think everything you stand for is crap. –Will from Huge
Inspired by this post on Happy Bodies, I just watched the first episode of the ABC Family’s new show, Huge. And I can’t even express all the emotions I experienced. Before the opening was even over I was bursting with happiness; this show starts with a fat strip-tease. Yes. Nikki Blonsky, in defiance of the camp doctor, strips off her clothes to reveal her bathing suit beneath. This show is, in fact, huge. It’s hard to even explain what it’s like seeing a cast that is 99% fat people. All throughout the episode, I kept thinking to myself Look at all these people who look like me. And I just wanted to cry. I wanted to bawl until there were no tears left. I did cry a few times. Because I relate so much to the main character, Will. I know how it feels to be the only one who is “down with my fat” in a group full of people who aren’t as big as me but are full of so much more insecurity and self-loathing. Will is a sarcastic wise-ass who would rather sell candy and dish out insults than share her feelings. I really hope that this doesn’t eventually lead to some I-really-wanted-to-change-all-along-and-was-being-all-hard-just-to-keep-that-from-showing scenario because that will totes kill some of the character for me. But for now, her character rocks and I have never felt so close to a TV character before in my life. She looks like me. She talks like me. She acts like me. She thinks like me.
She isn’t buying any of the shit they’re trying to feed her. The show does a very good job of pointing out how that kind of ‘fat camp’ lifestyle doesn’t really work: in the very beginning, Becca says that she lost weight the previous year but gained most of it back. When things get ‘too serious’ in the form of bulimia, the camp opts to send one of the girls home instead of trying to help her get healthy, which is what the camp is supposed to be about (perhaps that would be a little much to expect from a camp but I feel that a camp about weight management should have counselors prepared to deal with things like eating disorders; I don’t know if this is a reflection of real-life weight-loss camps since I’ve never been to one). Amber, the resident not-fat-but-doesn’t-see-how-GORGE-her-body-is girl, is obsessed with losing weight as opposed to being healthy (as Will bluntly points out during a circle of sharing therapy session).
And Amber. Let’s talk about Amber for a second. Portrayed by the very gorgeous Hayley Hasselhoff, Amber is the thinnest girl at Camp Victory; she is tall, blond, pretty, and pretty much average sized, with ample curves. Everyone knows a girl like this. A girl who has one of the most beautiful bodies you’ve ever seen in your life; a girl who is nowhere close to fat; a girl who cannot see her body for the beautiful thing it is. The kind of girl who is so frustrating to be around because she obsesses over a tiny roll of flesh while your stomach hangs round and full. Amber plasters the wall above her bed with ‘thinspiration’, photos of tight, toned bodies from magazines. Amber embodies every beautiful average sized girl you’ve ever known who tortures herself with aspirations of bodies that are unatainable. The show captured this perfectly for me and I felt such pain for Amber because I see so many of my friends in her; I know this girl well and I know what she is going through.
Another amazing thing that is portrayed in this show: fat people expressing desire. And people expressing desire for a fat person! OMG!? You do not see this on TV. I am a fat person in love with a thin person. Relationships like mine are not rare. But I cannot remember the last time a television show entertaining the idea that someone within the ideal image might desire someone outside of it. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen something showing the idea of fat people possibly desiring other fat people. The show touches on both of these thing, these very real scenarios that HAPPEN ALL THE TIME IN LIFE. And it’s absolutely beautiful.
This show is a big deal. I see myself in this show. The world is looking at me when they watch this show. There have been many, many times in my life where I’ve wanted to scream out “This is what my body looks like and I am not ashamed!” And I feel the character Will is helping me yell it. The kids on this show feel real. They feel like real young people who feel lost and confused and ashamed inside their bodies. They don’t know how to reconcile the way their bodies look with a world that doesn’t want them to look the way they are. Will stands against that. She is not ashamed.
“They want us to be ashamed of our bodies. Well, I refuse to.”
Preach on, sister. Preach the fuck on. I have a lot of hope for this show. I’m going to continue watching it and I hope it lives up to the very real potential it has. And now, as a show of solidarity, here I am in my new, adorable swimsuit side-by-side with Will:
P.S. I just found out that Happy Bodies is having an Open Forum about Huge! Go join the conversation!