I know, and am friends with many people in the “entertainment” industry. Actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters, editors, producers, playwrights, singers, songwriters, bands, etc…
I also watch a lot of movies, some television and pretty much anything I can find on Netflix or Amazon Prime. If any of my friends are acting in, have written, produced or been involved in one way or another a project, I watch them and as often as I can, plug their projects.
I recently started watching This Is Us through my On Demand with my cable company. I’d never seen even a bit of it, had no idea what it was about, and I think at some point I actually wondered if it was like other ensemble television shows that I didn’t enjoy.
But I love it! I’m actually binge-watching several episodes each night to catch up to the new episodes that started back again last night. Now, I’m bringing all of this up not because I have ran out of weight-loss things to discuss…on the contrary. It is this show that has me wanting to write to you tonight.
If you have never seen the show, I encourage you – if you’re able – to give it a view. If you have seen it, especially if you really enjoy it, you’ll have a better understand of where I’m coming from with this post.
One of the main characters in this series is Kate (played by the stunning and talented Chrissy Metz). The other characters are wonderful as well – I’m especially fond of Randall – but it’s Kate that I resonate with the most.
This is Chrissy Metz. Stunning.
The reason it’s so significant is simply because there is a lack of characters like Kate on any show right now. You see, Kate is obese. She’s not a little overweight, and I’m not exaggerating her size – Kate is obese.
Think about many of the shows you watch (even movies). How many have obese women on them? Probably not that many. Is that because obese women aren’t talented and can’t act? I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s likely for a couple of reasons. Much of society finds obese men and women to be unattractive and the networks, producers and such (most of them, not all), want to fill your television screens with attractive people. Is this because they think we’re all too sensitive and wouldn’t be able to handle seeing obese actors and actresses (and don’t get me started on the double-standard that men can be obese and it’s not seen as harshly than if it’s a woman)? Do they think that obese people cannot act? Is it unrealistic to expect that television serials based on “real life” characters would actually have some different shapes, sizes, colors etc?
Yes, there have seen some women of size on television. Melissa McCarthy comes to mind. What I find interesting is that her character – Molly – did the entire “I’m fat” things during the series: struggled with her weight, weightloss, joined a weight loss support group etc. Yes, that’s part of that “real life” I mentioned about but I’m also wondering why. Why does an over-weight character on a television show have to even address her size? or the struggles of a fat person?
I ask this because it seems to be a pigeon-hole for over-weight women on television series. Of course, that’s if there are any over-weight women on a television series. There really aren’t that many. But I digress…
Kate on This Is Us is obese and like those pigeon-hole items I mention above, she struggles with losing weight, getting healthy, dealing with self-esteem issues, and generally struggles every day with many of the things that I do. I felt an instant connection to Kate. From the first episode where she stands naked (save for her panties) and fights to step on the scale, I felt a kinship to her. I saw the back of her body. I saw her rolls of fat. I saw myself and my first thought was – my God but that actress is brave. And then I thought, thank you to the producers, writers, and everyone else on the show for bringing this character to us.
Four episodes in, Kate has already dealt with many things that I have. In one, she’s at a party, one she originally didn’t want to go because of her self-esteem issues. The man she’s just started to see – Toby – is a clown-and-a-half and he convinces her to go. And for a brief time (before the booze), she feels happy – until she “sees” people laughing at her, talking about her. Now it can be perceived that she is imagining it, or that people really are laughing and talking about her. But I get her. Man, do I get her.
Most times when I go out in public, if I’m alone, I am always imagining people are staring at me, talking about me…and can run through all the dialogue I think they are saying out loud or thinking. Am I imagining it completely? Sure, sometimes. I do, after all, have an over-active imagination. And I don’t really consider myself to be so important that I imagine that I’m the talk of the town. But there are time, I know – I’ve heard them – where people are talking rude about me and staring. So, at that moment in the episode – I felt it. I knew exactly what Kate was feeling and thinking.
I’ve said before that while many people can sympathize with me about the struggles of dealing with my weight, many cannot empathize. And as I’ve said before, if someone has to lose 20, 30 or even 50 pounds – their struggles are just as real as other’s are – but it’s also very hard for them to truly understand what it’s like to be this obese.
So while yes, Kate is a fictional character, the writers have written a very real person. A person that is showing others some of the struggles I face all the time – whether they be physical ones or mental ones. And while she won’t break down many stereotypes or prejudices against obese people, I’m hoping she will open some eyes to the fact that we’re not all lazy and fat, eat 25,000 calories a day and are unclean. The people that think like that – the people who think ugly things about anyone, whether they be obese, mentally challenged or any other physical challenges, or even just because they are bigoted and ignorant – those people rarely have their minds changed.
I don’t know where the writers will go with the character of Kate – but I do hope they continue to be honest and true to her character – her struggles and all. There are far too few “real” characters on television nowadays – she’s a breath of fresh air.
Sending peace, love and joy to all…