by Jacquie on July 1, 2010

For someone who’s had an eating disorder and has advocated for people to understand such diseases (Hello Actionists®!), I was very skeptical of ABC Family’s new show, Huge. Not because who they were going to show, teens at fat camp, but now it could be portrayed. Just seeing the title, stereotypes can be formed and judgements made about these people that are false 99% of the time and that doesn’t need to happen more than it already does since the main artwork already shows a lack of confidence and lack of happiness… eek!

When I had an eating disorder, I was not big. I was your “textbook” anorexic who was too thin and didn’t want to gain weight. I then became bulimic when my body got so hungry that I started to binge, only to know that it wasn’t normal, and then got rid of it, which isn’t normal either. However “textbook” I was, what many do not realize is that behind any weight issue is an emotional issue. It’s not truly about the food or about the number on the scale, but about the teasing, the perfection, the not-feeling-good-enough, the want to be loved, the want to disappear, the want to be (or not be) noticed, the want…

By restricting food (and like those who choose to binge), I was able to take away one of the things I loved, the experience of eating food that I learned from an early age, and could punished myself for not being the perfect person I tried to be. But because of this background, I was nervous that a television show could miss what underlies a weight issue. (Please know that I’m not saying that every very thin or overweight person has an eating disorder. Structure is also due to genetics, but in most cases, the extreme weight cases are due to emotions.)

So how was the show Monday night?

You know I’ll always be honest on this blog so I won’t tell you the show is fabulous and will achieve what it wants to- showing teens at fat camp who then discover themselves on a deeper level than their weight- but I also won’t say it’s bad either. With only seeing the first show, it had to set up background for the rest of the season which isn’t enough to comment on.

That being said, I was hoping they wouldn’t play into stereotypes. They did a little, like when Amber said, ”I’ve been dieting since I was 10. That’s what I’m best at.” Many women might feel this way, but the way it came out just bothered me. Something is just off to me about the show and I’m not sure what. Maybe it’s the scripted-ness of it. I’m not sure, but I’m interested in seeing how it unfolds since I believe that these kind of health issues should not be in the media like this or even at all.

To get our country away from dieting and to help patients with eating disorders, whether it’s anorexia or binge eating disorder, bulimia or EDNOS, we need to stop talking about weight as the only thing a person owns. It’s not about weight, but someone’s overall physical, mental and emotional health (sound familiars to my mission, doesn’t it?) that matters. If this show touches on those things, I think it could be successful start for the population to understand what goes on behind a disorder and even self esteem. If it doesn’t, it could just be one more show that hurts the sufferers of these disorders even more and that’s not OK.

Did you watch HUGE? What did you think? Will it help bring these disorders to the public or do you think it will just exploit them more?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katharine July 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I was definitely a little worried about how this show would be produced, but I might just have to watch the first episode now that I’ve read your review. Does it seem like they’ll be dealing with education at all, in terms of food/nutrition? Because I also wonder how big of a role that plays w/kids & teenagers – growing up in an environment where REAL food isn’t eaten or no one is taught/knows what is good food and bad food, I wonder how much that plays a part, too. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion! :)

Jacquie July 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I honestly don’t know if they’ll go into nutrition or more of the mental side of things. Nutrition is important, but that definitely gets easier once mental issues behind the weight are discovered and discussed. Real food is important though as is realizing that there is no good/bad foods so that will be an interesting piece to the puzzle if included.

Sarah July 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

So I too was a bit skeptical of the show and what messages it would be sending. When I first saw the commercial for Huge, I was not impressed that a show like this would be on TV. I watched most of the first episode and like you, didn’t like some of the messages the show was sending. I think that if real food is a focus that could be a positive. But, in the spirit of honesty, I decided that I probably won’t watch it again. It just didn’t sit well with me and was too scripted and forced.

jess July 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Watch Episode 2 on Monday 7/5 – It goes deeper.

Here’s my brutally honest question though to you guys: Would you have had an issue w/ the ‘scripted/forceness’ of it if it had been a stereotypical lunch table of skinny girls in high school on some other teen soap opera dressed in fabulous clothes and talking about how much they hated their bodies? I ask because I think there are FAR worse written shows that don’t tackle body image issues w/ any kind of gentle grace at all – that we should have been boycotting and turning off from TV a long time ago (hello, CW, I mean every show on that network needs to go!)

Brynne July 1, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I watched – and I’ll go more in depth in my next post – but I absolutely cannot stand Nikki Blonsky’s character. Aside from the purple hair in desperate need of conditioning .. she wants to GAIN weight at camp? I think the focus of the show needs to shift from weight to HEALTH! Being as overweight as most of those girls are at such a young age is clearly not healthy for them, now or in the future. I really hope they try to educate on health more in future episodes. That said, it was definitely entertaining!

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