MTV recap: “I Used to be Fat”, Gabriella

30 Dec

Last night, I watched, “I Used to be Fat” on MTV. Oh, where do I even start? Here’s my very biased and totally opinionated take to this series that gives people yet another reason to treat fat people cruelly.

Image credit: MTV

“I Used to be Fat” opens by introducing us to Gabriella, 18. She’s some 250lb, a very pretty brunette, cute smile, has great friends and is the freaking Homecoming Queen of her high school. Does anything here sound like she has a problem? Nope.

In first grade, Gabriella was called a fatso, and all she wants to feel accepted and loved. Honestly, I had a lump in my throat. Now, Gabriella starts college after the summer and wants to lose weight and she has 111 days and a personal trainer to help her “become the three Fs: fit, fabulous and fierce.”

Then Gabriella’s mother enters the screen and it all becomes pretty clear to me why Gabriella feels she can’t be happy as she is right now.

I don’t know, this is a reality series after all, and I have no idea how much “I Used to be Fat” is scripted, but Gabriella’s mother appears to me the culprit of Gabriella’s shame, guilt and insecurities. At the very best, I’d say that Gabriella’s mother has the best, if misguided, intentions for her daughter. At the worst I’d say she’s an abusive, manipulative mother from hell.

Example? The mother tells Gabriella that she inherited the wrong (read fat) genes—she says this in a pitying tone. The mother wants her daughter to be happy—but thin! The mother leaves out food as a test, as a freaking test, if Gabriella will eat it. If Gabriella falls for the “food trap”, she is shamed and made feel guilty! Gabriella goes as far as to hide food wrapping so she can escape her mother judgment.

Gabriella says she wants to lose weight for herself, but I have the sneaking suspicion she does it so her mother will for once accept her, love her, be proud of her.

Image credit: MTV news

Now follows the usual: Enter a military drill fitness instructor. 111 days later Gabriella has tortured herself through a fitness regime that is both boring and unimaginative. Where’s the fun? Well, no fun allowed for Gabriella. And when she struggles to juggle her school, her job and working out, her mother tells her that she is not doing a good job. Can you believe that? Her mother tells her that Gabriella is doing a shitty job. Gabriella holds her own, saying that she is proud of what she has achieved so far—honestly, I wanted to give her a hug.

In the end, Gabriella lost the weight. And suddenly the mother and the rest of her family ohh and ahh over her, hug her, tell her that they are proud of her. Boy, did “I Used to be Fat” sent a great message—lose weight and you’ll be loved.

To be clear, I’m not making fun of Gabriella, she has every right to do what she wants with her life, her body. I’m not saying that it was wrong to lose weight, not at all. But in the end, I feel her real success was not getting thin, but that she had learned to stand up against her judgmental mother.

But “I Used to be Fat” left a very bad taste in my mouth for sure.

(–Related: Episode 2 recap, I Used to be Fat, Marci–)


13 Responses to “MTV recap: “I Used to be Fat”, Gabriella”

  1. Ann 12/30/2010 at 11:42 am #

    good recap. I watched it myself but couldnt put my finger on it why the show botherrd me.

  2. portlandsfunnygirl 01/01/2011 at 12:49 am #

    Never seen the show but I couldn’t agree more with you on several points. Too many people point out that “Lose weight and you’ll be loved”. Ugh… it’s so not true. I mean I know for so many overweight girls that’s how we feel, unloved for our size.

    With me I struggle to lose weight because I know the true character about how people treat me and I feel like if I lost the weight the people I ran into would be insincere. Knowing that those same people wouldn’t give me the time of day or judge me 100% times more harshly than if I were fat. So I feel like I stay fat to see peoples true colors. Just saying.

    • Chickie 01/01/2011 at 2:42 pm #

      It’s wonderful to have a support system, people who like and love you just the way you are. It gives you the necessary strength to deal with people who bully others based on their appearance.

      Sadly, not everyone has such a support system. Maybe, someday, the belief that skinny=happy and loved is a thing of the past.

    • tiffane 01/09/2011 at 8:21 am #

      Listen ur fat like u juss said so why r u going to leave rude comments about this girls weight and atleast this girl lost 90 pounds and im sure you prob havent even tried so u shoould keep the rude comment somewhere else 🙂

  3. Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) 01/03/2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I had the same reaction to the show–and I very much identified with her as far as the abusive parent acting like you are only loveable if you are thin. I just hate when all of these shows (and people) make it seem like losing weight will change your entire world–will make everything wonderful, ok, better, etc. Even the new “new years resolution” weight-loss advertisements do that. Promising a “new you” if you lose weight. Really? A new person? Because you have a different relationship to gravity and a different number appears on the scale? I don’t think so. That’s why people lose a ton of weight, realize everything (other than their pants size) is the same, and gain it back plus more.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. 🙂

    • Chickie 01/03/2011 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, there’s no ‘New You’ just because you lose weight–it’s a devilish tempting concept, though.

  4. Cuki 01/04/2011 at 10:31 pm #

    i couldnt agree with you more!

  5. Insightful1 01/07/2011 at 9:16 am #

    I couldn’t DISAGREE more, When you lose weight there is definitely a new you. A you that can do a lot more things that you couldn’t do when you were heavy. Ever seen a large person horseback riding? How about surfing, or traveling on an airplane comfortably. I think not, because I would never do these things and embarrass myself. But would I like to? Of course, who wouldn’t want to live life to it’s fullest, but it’s hard to do when weight is holding you back. I’d love to be able to go into a regular store and fit their merchandise without asking what is the largest size you go up to? I think it’s great that MTV is producing a show to motivate those who want to lose weight to do so. If you’re small, don’t bother to reply to this because you wouldn’t understand. If your overweight, you should understand me.

    • Chickie 01/07/2011 at 10:33 am #

      I don’t mind that you disagree with me. No question, there’s a new ‘physical you’ after such a drastic weight-loss.

      When I say there’s no “new you” then I’m talking about that there’s no instant “personality change”.

      True, you can work on your personality traits, but ‘just’ losing weight isn’t the way to go, imho.

      I’m sorry if you feel that you can’t try new things because of fear of embarrassing yourself, I honestly mean that. It’s today’s social pressure that we all bow to. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t lose weight if that’s your goal. But my blog isn’t about losing weight or not, it’s about acceptance how you are right now.

  6. mydisenchantedlife 01/07/2011 at 9:26 am #

    While I agree that it’s “false advertising” that losing weight makes you happier, more lovable, etc. I do think that there’s a certain amount of self-respect and empowerment that comes from taking control of your life and losing weight. I thing that’s what Gabby realized as she lost weight, that she’s stronger than she realized. I LOVED Gabby. The girl on the second episode (whatever her name was) totally turned me off on the show all together.

    I think Gabby actually touched on being skinny not making her happy or making her problems go away in the post-interview. She didn’t say so specifically or hit on the topic very hard, but I felt like she did admit that losing the weight was empowering, and helped her stand up to her mom. But she also seemed to have an undertone that being skinny wasn’t like she thought it would be.

    She was beautiful before, and she was simply glowing after the weight loss. I wish her the best!

    • Chickie 01/07/2011 at 10:41 am #

      I admit, I didn’t see the post-interview, will check it out, thanks for the tip. I liked Gabby as well and I loved that she found a way to stand up to her mom. For me, that was her real success. (I think I already said that in the recap.)

  7. David 01/13/2011 at 11:48 am #

    There are so many logical fallacies, horrendous assumptions and grammatical errors in this post it was hard to pick only one but here is the most egregious offender:

    “In the end, Gabriella lost the weight. And suddenly the mother and the rest of her family ohh and ahh over her, hug her, tell her that they are proud of her. Boy, did “I Used to be Fat” sent a great message—lose weight and you’ll be loved.”

    Did you just imply that being proud of somebody for accomplishing a goal they set for themselves means they didn’t love them prior to reaching that goal? Should I be upset with my mother for being proud of me graduating from college because apparently she didn’t love me before? You sound like a passive-aggressively bitter person who can’t stand the idea of somebody else improving themselves. Yes, I said improving; it’s undeniably healthier to not be fat.

    • Chickie 01/13/2011 at 5:23 pm #

      David, thanks for making me aware of my shortcomings as a blogger, bless you heart. I’m sure you’re actually a nice, non-judgmental person, even if your comment doesn’t reflect it.

      Look, I don’t get the impression that you are really interested in a discussion, so I won’t engage in one.

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