Thursday, July 15, 2010
Too Fat for 15
I came across a reference to the BBC documentary, "Too Fat for 15", on a fat acceptance site. The impression that I got reading about it was that there was something wrong about encouraging the young girl in question to lose weight. So, I felt it was worthwhile taking a look for myself.
You can find the whole documentary on Youtube, chopped up into 5 10-minute segments. The format is a bit annoying, but I found the documentary itself to be very moving and not at all exploitative.
While many people are mildly overweight in our society, due in great part to a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of basic nutritional knowledge, the morbidly obese often have a "back story" of emotional pain and suffering that explains their seriously dysfunctional relationship with food. This is the case for Georgia Davis, who at 15 weighs a touch above 460 pounds. Still grieving her father's death nine years earlier, she is the sole caregiver for her mother who is herself severely overweight, suffers from arthritis and has had two heart attacks.
The documentary follows Georgia through a year at a boarding school for overweight teens in the States. (She was there on a full scholarship.)
At first, I was somewhat put off by the "fat camp" feeling of the school, with the obsession on every single thing the student ate, the compulsive journaling and the blanket identification of certain foods as intrinsically "bad" under all circumstances and at all times. Although I sincerely believe in a healthy diet (and by that I mean the food we eat rather than a weight-loss plan), labelling certain foods as "bad" and untouchable sets us up for failure. (I could and already have talked at length about this and will no doubt explore the topic further in the future.)
But despite the discomfort I felt with certain aspects of the school's approach, I was profoundly touched by Georgia's journey--in particular, the psychological elements of her road away from compulsive eating and towards a more healthy relationship with food, her body, her mother and her life in general.
To date, Georgia has lost almost 170 pounds. It's a moving story and worth watching.
The only unfortunate thing is that now the Style Network will be launching the US version of TFF15. I fear it will have all the depth and intelligence of "The Biggest Loser". But that's just my opinion.