Reality shows, it must be noted, are far from reality. As most of my savvy readers know, “reality” is manipulated and edited to suit what the producers of the show are looking to show. Some of the contestants of Project Runway are kept on because they have fascinating personalities, while the less camera-friendly designers are let go. And many shows rely on keeping the participants isolated from outside contact as much as possible.
Imagine the pressure of having your every move filmed for television, trapped inside a house for weeks, and in some cases not allowed to interact with your fellow cast-members off-camera. (I learned that from a former Survivor cast member; there were employees specially hired to prevent the contestants from speaking to each other between takes!)
So it was with more than a fair share of skepticism that I approached More To Love, a reality show that features an overweight but appealing man, Luke Conley, who is 6'3" and weighs over 300 pounds. He has to choose between twenty overweight and appealing women.
I should warn you that all of the photos have been Photoshopped beyond belief.
Now, reality dating shows have a peculiar, outdated view of romance and marriage, of meeting “the one true love” and living happily ever after. How on earth is that supposed to “reality”? Especially within the confines of the genre. More To Love is no exception.
This might be feminist heresy, but I have to disagree with the critics who say the women were presented as “pathetic” and “otherized.” With the exception of a few bad fashion choices, all of the women were presented as sexy, pretty, and intelligent (again with a few exceptions). They stepped out of black limos in colorful evening gowns, hair perfect, makeup camera-ready, in sky-high heels. **
Some of them could have been pop idols; in fact one woman is a plus-size model, as is the strangely underused host, Emme. I admire Emme tremendously, pardon the pun. But she is only on for a few minutes at the beginning and the end, and seems slightly uncomfortable during the proceedings.
One hopes that during the show’s run she will help these women with their low self-esteem. In one on one interviews, each woman talked about what she wanted in a mate, her dating history, her feelings about her body, etc. What saddened moi was the self-hatred these women had for themselves. They didn’t seem to understand that the mere fact that they were on this show meant that they were far better-looking than average! In fact, quite a few were attractive in that slightly bland style television demands.
They focused on their large bodies as the reason they have/had been dateless. Most reality show contestants are deeply insecure. Why else would they be reality show contestants? But these women wore their hearts on their chiffon sleeves. Why on earth did they think a television show would be their “last chance for love”?
Here I would like to assert that my avoirdupois has never been an obstacle to dating, sex, multiple marriages, or any pleasurable interaction with the male sex. But then, I am a woman of broad mind and loose morals. There were some contestants who were comfortable with their size and happy with their bodies, which was a refreshing change.
At the end, ten women were sent packing, and this is one aspect of reality television I despise: the exit interview. Many of the women being sent home were completely devastated, and the cameras feasted on their devastation.
Many critics have said that More To Love is all about humiliating fat women.
What they do not take into account is that most reality television is, ultimately, about humiliating everyone. Where is the dignity in The Bachelor? Survivor? Big Brother?
Although I have reservations about More To Love, in the end I have to say that I believe it levels the playing field just a tiny bit.
Elisa & Bucky The Wonderdog
**Fashion Note :
Unlike MAKEOVER reality shows, More To Love did not dress the women in lookalike dark colored empire dresses. Their gowns ran the color and design spectrum, and some even had--gasp--natural waistlines!