There was another big media thing this last week that brought up how the obese are treated at times. This time it was “What Would You Do?”, a program produced by ABC News. The basic premise is that they use actors to create situations in public that are meant to gain attention for their… well, for the bad behavior of some of the participants.
Past shows have been about things like someone talking super-loudly on a cell phone in a crowded restaurant, people being verbally abusive to others in various situations, and so-on.
Last Friday one of the segments was about an overweight mother with an overweight daughter in a grocery store, with a cart filled with crappy food. Another woman, one or normal weight starts berating the mother over her choice of food, going on about how the mom is abusing her child, that she will end up paying for it when they start suffering from diabetes and other issues, and as the cameras rolled they waited to see if anyone would step in.
If you haven’t seen the show, you can watch the entire thing on hulu.com – though I’m not sure how long they keep them on there. You can also try and catch the two parts of the segment on ABC.com, it’s under the November 12 show date, but again, I’m not sure how long they keep them up there… at least a few months it seems though.
Ironically enough, I had this on the TV while I was ironically enough, getting materials ready for a WLS event where I was going to be manning a table with information about the WLSFA.
For the most part, folks stepped up and defended the mother, though because of editing, there’s not any real sense of just now many never said a word.
Interestingly enough, it seems the majority of those they showed that did step in agreed with the message, just not with how it was presented. Words like embarrassing, humiliating and the like were what was used to describe the treatment of the mother-daughter pair. It didn’t matter if the mom/daughter were black or white, and it didn’t matter if the food-cop was a man or a woman. Those that stepped in were nearly universally agreed on that.
At the end of the segment, the host asked one of the woman, a mother shopping with her own daughter that seems a bit overweight, what message she would like her child to take away from this. I think she summed this particular situation up rather well…
“That bullying is never ok, and step in, because one person can make a difference.”
In many ways, this segment was much more about bullying than it was a statement about obesity. But more and more the obese seem to be one of the few groups where it’s still socially acceptable to bully.
Like many of those in the program, they agree that the message is one that needs to be out there. We know that. We know the diet of the average American sucks. We know the problems it can lead to. We know the measures some people will go to in order to battle obesity.
But we also know that being a “calorie-cop” isn’t the way to fix things.
Shows like this aren’t perfect, but they continue to bring to light topics that need to be discussed. But these shows can only do so much. They’re driven by ratings, they summarize, they sensationalize. The discussions need to go much further, and it’s up to us to do so.
It’s up to us to “step in”.
The storm that hit after the Mike & Molly blog incident seems to have died down significantly. So maybe it’s a good thing this show was on last week.
This is a topic that we need to remain vigilant about. Not just the bullying portion, but the overall education side of it. Every time something like this comes up, it’s an opportunity to not only teach someone about the negative issues surrounding discrimination or bullying, but it’s also an opportunity to share the benefits of being fit, of getting control over our weight and food issues, instead of those issues controlling us.
So like the tag-line of the show says… we need to look at what we, as a community and individuals can do to “step in, step up” and not “step away”.