le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Dear Glee:

Glee, I love you. I really do. Mostly, mainly, I love you for Kurt and Burt Hummel. This week, I love you for Brittney and Artie.
But Kurt is the reason I come back, time and again, Glee, because you have shown - beautifully - that you know how to handle a complex character. Your episodes on bullying were remarkable.

But. BUT! Glee - what are you doing? You've added Ashley Fink as Lauren into the Glee Club (which is cool! I liked her on Huge, and she's been a cool quirky bit player on Glee since the first season).

Except, Glee, you're....you're being mean. You're being sizest. You are perpetuating some very, very unkind and narrow-minded stereotypes about fat people, which is, in essence, a form of bullying. Every time we see Lauren, she is eating, and/or talking about food. She demands food as a requirement for joining Glee club. She demands food before she'll perform at sectionals. You've done a pretty shoddy job in making her a real character - you've made her a caricature, a rather tired, unpleasant stereotype of a fat person who eats all the time. 

This is not cool. Do you not know any of the statistics about women - especially young women - and body image? I understand if you're not up on the latest in academic Fat Studies; I wasn't, until fairly recently. But Fat Studies intersects with body politics, which intersects with Queer Studies - and Glee, I know you know about that.

Glee, I expect better from you. I expect WAY better from you. You've done amazing things - amazing - with your representation of a gay teenager. Kurt's character has been dazzling to watch, especially this season, as you've given him a gay love interest. You know how to push boundaries and change the way people think and talk about things. You can do this with Lauren's character, too, and it doesn't even need to be a big plot point. Just turn her into a person who isn't just, only, and all about eating. As Marilyn Wann (a leading Fat activist and Fat studies pioneer) writes in the introduction to the Fat Studies Reader, the only thing you can tell by looking at a fat person is the level of your own prejudices.

Making Lauren into a fat person who does nothing but eat and/or talk about food is no different than any other offensive or bigoted stereotypical representation. Glee, you do a good job of being playful about difference, but you also are always respectful and supportive of difference. Except in the case of Lauren (and sometimes Mercedes), the non-thin members of the cast.

You can do so much better than this, Glee. If you're not sure how, please watch a few episodes of Huge. If you don't want to watch a show from a competing network, why not go read Lesley Kinzel's extremely intelligent blog?

I don't want to have to stop watching Glee because of indirect body shaming and fat jokes. I will if you continue, but I'd rather see Glee do what it does well (superbly well, in the case of Kurt) - push its viewers and its cast toward a more inclusive, comprehensive view of the diversity of human existence.

most sincerely yours,

Kerry M


Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree also. In fact, I found your blog because I was trying to find a way to send a letter to the writers. I TOTALLY love the show and so many of the messages, until the fatism was shoved into the script. The messages they're sending around people of size are very harmful. How do we get more voices... I mean LOTS of voices... letting them know?