I don’t know what this says about me, but I for one enjoy watching Entertainment Tonight. I sometimes watch the show to mock it and our stupid fame-obsessed culture, but I more often watch to participate in/be victimized by our culture’s obsession with entertainment and fame for fame’s sake. Besides, there’s nothing else on at 7:30.
Anyway, lately ET (and just again on ET “Weekend” this past Saturday– hey, what can I say, I can’t get enough of the ET) has really been working this “Fat Suit” angle, as this story on the ET Online Web Site explains. Since November, I swear they’ve had some version of the fat suit on at least once a week, and it’s starting to drive me a little crazy.
For those of you not up to speed on this, let me try to explain: ET “Reporter” Vanessa Minnillo, an extremely attractive woman (a former Miss Teen USA, according to her bio) who probably is about 5’5″ and maybe 120 pounds dripping wet, is put into this elaborate “fat suit” to change her into a 350 pound woman. Then they send her out with a film crew (presumably a hidden camera kind of thing) and watch people react. Inevitably, Minnillo is surprised– hurt, even!– to find out that most people react poorly to her in her fat suit. As she says in the “news story” I link to here, “[N]ot only do I have a new perspective on people with weight problems, it’s an experience I will never forget.”
Oh, where to begin?
First off, there’s overweight, there’s “fat” (like me), there’s “wow” fat, and then there’s this look. No offense to anyone out there reading this, but dude/dudette, if you are five-foot five and 350 pounds, well, you’ve got issues. I mean, this picture doesn’t do justice, but this outfit makes her look circus freak show fat. In my mind, a more effective test would be to dress Minnillo in a “chubby” and/or merely “fat” suit, maybe around 200 pounds, and see what happens.
Second, I have no doubts about the basic premise here: overweight/fat women (men too, but more women, I am sure) do get looks and hassled by people. But because Minnillo looks so downright freaky in this get-up, you have to wonder how many people are looking at her and thinking “wow, look at that super fat woman,” and how many are looking at her and thinking “wow, what’s up with the woman in the fat suit?”
Third, it doesn’t surprise me that Minnillo reacts with such shock at being ignored in the fat suit because she is so freakin’ good looking in “real life” that she has certainly never been ignored before. They did a couple of “fat suit”/”sans fat suit” comparisons on the weekend show that had me laughing. First they showed fat suit Minnillo getting into the subway, demonstrating how people either ignored her or were obviously not pleased about being next to the fat woman (or just the freaky woman with a fat suit fetish). Then they showed Minnillo without her fat suit try to get her hot little self on to the subway, and it was like she had a magic wand or something. “Excuse me,” she said in her cute girl way and the crowd parted. It was hillarious. Of course, she still was stared at, though for different reasons.
Anyway, I hope ET gives up on this fat suit thing soon before I have to write a stern letter. Maybe they can try a different angle, like get Minnillo to haul around a little kiddie wagon full of poo and see how strangers react to that.