The trailer for Netflix’s Insatiable has already made quite an impact on social media, though perhaps not for the reasons the creators may have anticipated.
The show, which stars Debby Ryan and Alyssa Milano, tells the story of Patty, an overweight girl known as (ugh) “Fatty Patty” at her high school. After she is (UGH!) punched in the face and has her jaw wired shut for a summer, she returns to school thin and therefore conventionally attractive, and so decides to exact revenge on the bullies who made fun of her before.
And yes, Debby Ryan wears a fat suit for her portrayal of “Fatty Patty.”
Many people on Twitter and otherwise immediately reacted to the premise of the show, calling it a fat-shaming opus. Others rightfully pointed out that the movie does more than fat-shame, and that the premise also legitimizes several harmful and disingenuous conceptions about size. BuzzFeed’s Kristin Chirico pointed out the difference in a series of tweets:
Like this is technically correct in a broad sense but doesn’t address the core problematic issues of the premise of the show being about needing to be thin to get what you want (and doing it in an extreme deprivation-based way)/using fat bodies as costumes, etc. pic.twitter.com/jRz9CNXeEq
— Kristin Chirico (@lolacoaster) July 20, 2018
Other people attempted to lay out in simple terms exactly why the base narrative of Insatiable is harmful.
• promotes fat-shaming
• teaches young people that if you don’t eat, you’ll become skinny and desirable
• romanticizes revenge fantasies
• shows that you’re only deserving of love and popularity if you fall into society’s definition of beauty
— jenna 106 (@jennajozeph) July 20, 2018
this is a good example of why i grew up insecure and thought i would never be loved because of my size. give us a story where the fat girl stays fat, struggles, but learns to accept her body and overcomes societal standards. #insatiable https://t.co/v9WchYgKVG
— lacey (@geamxs) July 19, 2018
As someone who studies fat stigma I can unequivocally say that this series will do serious damage to the lives of fat teenagers who may watch the show. @netflix
— Amanda Levitt (@FatBodyPolitics) July 19, 2018
Alyssa Milano, who stars in Insatiable, responded to these criticisms by tweeting that the show is not meant to fat-shame Patty’s character but rather show the effects of bullying:
We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming. I hope that clears it up. Also, this article does a good job of explaining it more: https://t.co/WoR8R7TjqR #Insatiable https://t.co/GFkDdsn1uh
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 19, 2018
It’s clear that Insatiable‘s premise embodies several harmful stereotypes about bodies and size, at least based on the way the show has been marketed. While it may be an attempt to satirically explore bullying, its comedic execution and social message may not be enough to offset the perception that it misrepresents body positivity.
Read more here: http://mashable.com/