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I'm Looking for a Dare to be Fat Situation

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 29, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 29, 2009 |

I sat down to watch FOX’s new reality dating show, “More to Love,” last night prepared to tear into it. We’ve mentioned the show several times on the site — the concept is “The Bachelor,” only instead of presenting vapid, twig-like blondes and half-brained consultants and lawyers with impeccable teeth, FOX reached into the rabbit hole and pulled out: Paul fucking Blart. Instead of a dumb dating show populated with pretty people, the patronizingly titled, “More to Love,” is basically a dumb dating show populated with “the rest of us,” which is to say: Overweight people.

And the truth is, it is every bit as condescending, offensive, and exploitative as I expected it would be. But the initial anger that the show elicited quickly turned into pity, not because I feel sorry for overweight people in general (to each their own), but because I felt sorry for these particular overweight individuals, not because of the obesity, but because of the neuroses that underlies it. I had hoped, I guess, that FOX would aim, at the very least, to find self-confident women who were comfortable with their weight, and who could — in some small way, I suppose — provide a modicum of inspiration for other people who have psychological issues surrounding their own body sizes.

Instead, FOX went out and found perhaps the twenty women in America who are least comfortably trapped inside their own excess skin. The network paraded out a series of dolled-up heavy women in cocktail dresses, many of whom had never before had a date or been in a significant relationship. Some of them did claim that they wanted to find someone who loved them for who they are (although, the heavy make-up, three-hour hair, and $3,000 dress undermined that suggestion), but most spent their time in the introductory confessionals crying. Crying because they struggle with their weight. Crying because they can’t find love. And crying at the exciting prospect of meeting the “Fachelor,” a 300-pound guy in real-estate who delivered canned speeches, charmed a lady in one arm while making out with the woman in the other.

The one constant among the women was that their weight had kept them from finding a significant other, and FOX edited it to such a degree as to suggest that overweight people are marginalized in America, nevermind that there are more overweight people than there are African-Americans in our country. “It’s time to show America that plus sized women can do it too,” one contestant proclaimed. Well, I fucking hope so — the continuation of our species depends on it. Sixty-six percent of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight; 32 percent are obese. The reality is: People who are not overweight are in the minority.

But nevermind that; putting aside the statistics, most can admit that an overweight person might have more difficulty in finding dates. But weight isn’t really the reason that most of the women FOX selected have a difficult time finding a date. Self-confidence is. It’s because they are exactly the kind of women who believe they can find true love manufactured on a FOX dating show. And they’ve all, seemingly, put their one egg in this fictional basket, failing to realize that the show wasn’t created for their own dating edification, but to exploit their insecurities for financial gain and, perhaps, give the Fachelor the chance to make out with as many women as possible.

In truth, I hated “More to Love,” not because it was exploitative (although it was that), but because it was fucking mean. It reminded me, in fact, of Neil LaBute’s In the Company of Men, which is about a misogynistic business executive (Aaron Eckhart) who, for shits and giggles, seeks out the most naïve, innocent woman he can find (who also happens to be deaf). The plan is to make her fall in love with him, then dump her on her face and completely fucking devastate her self-esteem and drive her, possibly, to suicide.

That’s what “More to Love” is, only on a grander scale. These women are naïve and vulnerable enough to fall head-over-heels in love with a man immediately, and each one, apparently, believes that the feeling is reciprocal. I realize that there are other dating shows that are built around the same premise, but when you’re a beautiful size-two woman, being thrown back into the dating pool doesn’t present much of an issue. For a size 14 woman — or at least these particular apprehensive, self-doubting women who already timid and emotionally insecure— to be dumped by a similarly sized man is going to be far more traumatic. And it’s going to happen in front of millions of viewers, many of whom were laughing the second the women stepped out of the limo.

And maybe I sound patronizing; maybe it sounds like I believe that overweight people can’t look out for themselves as well as skinny women. I don’t believe that. But “More to Love,” isn’t about finding an overweight woman a husband. It’s about finding someone with body-issues who was seemingly just pulled out of therapy to appear on this show a husband. It’s not preying on fat people; it’s preying on unstable, insecure people who just happen to be overweight.

It’s a cruel fucking show.

Lookit: Dating is hard, I don’t care what you look like. It’s about swallowing your pride; it’s about putting yourself out there; it’s about facing rejection; it’s about suffering a thousand tiny humiliations until you finally find someone that you have a 50 percent chance of divorcing. I don’t know how a person finds the “right” mate, but I know it’s not through a reality show where a national audience can watch you suffer those humiliations. And the devastating heartbreak of a vulnerable person should not be exploited for the entertainment benefit of millions of other fat asses watching from their couch while eating one of Hardees’ 1420 calorie Monster Thickburgers with a chocolate milkshake.