Sunday night I watched a new show on Lifetime called “Drop Dead Diva.” The plot of the show is simple. A beautiful blonde air-headed skinny girl (Deb) dies the same day as a large dowdy but smart lawyer (Jane). When the blonde gets to heaven she just can’t believe her awesome and fun life is over so she pushes some button which allows her to come back to earth. The only thing is her spirit goes to live in the body of the lawyer.
How can this beautiful skinny girl, who’s never been over a size 0 in her life (except for that one time she was a size 2 based on the freshman 15) stand to live in a body of a fat girl? She actually asks her guardian angel if she was sent to hell.
So being fat is now a punishment akin to burning in hell for all eternity?
Against the advice of her guardian angel, she seeks out her best friend who just cries and cries about this predicament. She laments that her best friend is now stuck in the body of someone who is a size 16. She says something along the lines of “fat things should not happen to skinny people.”
Here is my problem.
Size 16 is not fat. The average size of an American woman is 14. There are a lot of women who are healthy and athletic and muscular and HAPPY at a size 16. This show paints the life of Deb as happy and fulfilled. She has a wonderful relationship with her boyfriend who was going to propose to her right before she dies. She has a great career as a model. The only thing is, she’s not very smart. She gets to heaven and learns that she’s never done a single good deed. But she’s never done a bad deed either.
Conversely, Jane is a lawyer who volunteers at the soup kitchen and does more pro bono work than anyone in her firm. She’s whip smart. Unfortunately she has blah hair, blah makeup, and blah clothes. Because “fat” people don’t care about their appearance. If you look at the header picture, it’s misleading, because Jane (on the right) has more makeup on and wearing something actually more colorful than she does in the show. Oh and Jane is all alone. Because what man is going to love a fat girl? Plenty. She’s constantly craving fattening food. Her assistant squeezes Easy Cheese into her mouth and she likens it to Prozac. Oh, and she’s hotter than everyone else in the office. So hot she has to throw something through the window to break it because it won’t open. Bitch, please.
So here we have 2 stereotypes:
Skinny people are shallow, never do good deeds, selfish, have perfect lives, have perfect boyfriends, are happy, and dumb.
Fat people do many good deeds, are smart, are alone so they have to volunteer in soup kitchens to seek fulfillment, constantly crave fattening food and use processed cheese as an anti-depressant, are hotter temperature-wise than the rest of us, don’t care about their outer appearance because once you pass a size 12 you should just give up, and insecure.
Fat people can be shallow and skinny people can be deep. And there’s a whole range of sizes in between that don’t fit into stereotypes either.
GRRR!!! Lifetime, why?! You’re supposed to be a network for women, not a network that perpetuates tired old stereotypes about women. Not that I should be so surprised by a network who regularly shows TV movies about damsels in distress. I guess foisting tired old stereotypes onto women is like Lifetime’s purpose in television.