Celebrity Ding Dong?
Did you see that fat woman on Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding-Dong having a bunch of celebrities make fun of her “Bingo Wings”? That was me, and I’d like the chance to put my side of the story…
When I was first offered the chance to not only show off my upper arms but also to be measured on TV I had to take a very deep breath before I agreed. I’ll be honest and admit that my upper arms are not my favourite body part and usually I dress to hide them. I hoped that by appearing and being ‘brave’ I might be able to persuade someone else that they too had nothing to be ashamed of.
After watching the programme I wasn’t happy with the way it turned out. It wasn’t what I was expecting or what I was told it would be but then that tends to be the way with any appearance in the media. When I agreed to do the programme I was told I would have the right to reply and although I was wearing a microphone and tried to speak out, the things that I said were cut.
Anyone who has appeared in the media will be aware of that it’s pretty much par for the course. If you knew me though you’d know that I’m not the type of person to just stand and take it. I demand and receive respect and I’m more than willing to talk back on any subject I feel strongly about so it was frustrating to be portrayed as little more than the butt of the joke.
It’s also a point worth making that that large arms are a very sensitive point for women of all sizes. As a clothes designer I’ve never yet had a woman walk in and ask for a design to show them off. If I ask a client what she likes about her body she might say her boobs or her waist or her legs but never her arms. I think this problem is caused because you can get wide wide arms if you are fat, or if you are old. These days women can commit no two greater crimes.
We’re all supposed to strive ceaselessly to be younger and thinner than we are but guess what, I’m fat and I’m forty and this is what my bare arms look like! They don’t stop me being useful or attractive. I think the cast, and Davina McCall in particular, showed themselves up as being extremely narrow minded and personally I find that a lot less attractive and a lot less acceptable than merely showing off a random bit of excess flesh.
What are the options though? I could say that if I hadn’t taken that booking then someone else would have done it and they would have. Yes I did get paid for it, but I wasn’t primarily motivated by money. If I was then my business would charge more for the large sizes than the smaller ones. The larger sizes certainly cost more to produce but I charge the same for everyone because I know how dispiriting it feels to see a sliding scale of expense. It’s also my tiny way of trying to give some support to my fellow fat folks.
Maybe some people think that it would have been better if no fat person had done it did it and that segment was completely cut from the show? Personally I think we need to see more big people on TV, not less. We are the hidden majority but unless we demand attention and fight to be noticed things will never change.
I’m certain that some of the viewing public believe that fat people are not fit to be seen on screen – they believe we are all disgusting and they don’t want to acknowledge our existence, let alone see us. Personally I believe that if we collude with them and agree to become ‘invisible’ in the media then we leave ourselves open to more abuses when we step through our front doors in real life. We need to get us real people seen, and noticed, and our treatment debated openly as that is the only way we can achieve equality.
I can understand that some people don’t think my appearance on the show was a positive thing in the fight for size acceptance, they might possibly even think that I in some way damaged the cause but I’m afraid I don’t see things like that. If we aren’t prepared to stand up and, for want of a better word, ADMIT we are fat, then things will never change.
Lastly, supporting size acceptance in a cosy and supportive corner of your sitting room is easy – standing up in front of a live audience for a TV show is considerably less so. If you feel the item, my appearance on the show or the way I was treated in any way offensive what did you do about it? Whatever your opinion then please share it!
- Write to Channel 4
- Write to Alan Carr
- Post a comment on the YouTube video of the show
- Do all of these!
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