Many years ago Mike and I were in New York City prior to going overseas. It was cold, rainy and windy. We were miserable but determined to walk all over the city.
At one intersection we were handed a flyer and invited to attend a live filming of a television talk show. Neither of us had ever done anything like that, so to satisfy curiosity and to get out of the weather, we went.
After filling out several forms, we were ushered into a large, narrow hall where we were seated with thirty others. Food was in abundance. There were gourmet sandwiches and expensive pasties along with a variety of fruits, salads and drinks. Since it was near lunchtime, we enjoyed ourselves.
Eventually a spokesperson instructed us in proper behavior during filming: to sit quietly and try not to cough or sneeze. He also explained what we would see, from the studio to the cameras and crew. It was very informative and exciting.
After the explanation we lined up and were escorted inside. A sorting process took place in which some were sent to the front row, some to the back, most to the middle rows. We were buried in the middle.
Initially I didn’t understand what decisions controlled who sat where, but once the camera swooped over the crowd and we could see on several large screens what the camera saw, it became obvious.
At that time I was quite heavy. I was not the only overweight person in the audience, but in introspect, I was probably among the heaviest. All of us fatsos were buried in the middle rows, hidden behind those in front and flanked by those on our sides and backs. We were so well hidden that the camera only picked up our images from collarbones to the tops of our heads.
In other words, no one in TV land would be affronted by fat bodies. It hurt when this realization hit me, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I resolved myself to sit back and enjoy the show.
The host had a pleasant personality. She engaged with members of the audience, often asking questions and then expanding on comments. Behind her was a large window through which we could see crowds of passersby staring in.
I don’t recall who she was, who the guest was or even the topic of the show.
I do recall my humiliation and the amazement at how taping a live show worked.
The reason I am sharing this now is that I don’t believe the producers intended to insult me, but rather present a pleasing picture to watchers. If this was so, then shouldn’t they have been aware that many of the watchers would have also been overweight? And that the message they were sending was that the overweight needed to be hidden? Invisible in plain sight?
Granted this took place over ten years ago before all kinds of awareness movements came forward educating the populace about fat-shaming. Even so, someone, somewhere in the back offices should have spoken up. Someone who had a weight issue of their own. Someone who understood what it was like to exist in a world that catered to the skinny.
This is very thoughtful. In spite of the fact that the “TV” body type is the minority body type in this country, and the connection between skinniness and fitness is tenuous, certainly there was (and probably still is) a desire to mediate our visual reality for us, and create the illusion that most people are size zeroes. Thanks for sharing this, Terry.