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Why our favorite TV series of the 90s are pure Bodyshaming

How one has changed oneself, one becomes aware, if one looks at the former favorite series and films years again today. How non-diverse, misogynistic and cliché-laden series and films from the 90s and 00s seem to me from today’s perspective! People who are not white hardly appear. And those who aren’t straight are portrayed as a one-dimensional stereotype. And those who are not thin are used as a joke.

Heroines and heroes with non-perfect bodies did not exist on the screen in the past, at least I do not remember it. Only very few fancier characters, of course always portrayed in a casual way, were allowed to appear at all. Bodyshaming in TV series – our author has her thoughts on this.

"The Nanny": Being fat was a character

One example: the 90s hit "The Nanny". As a teenager, I loved watching Nanny Fran every week as she tried season after season to marry her rich boss (from today’s perspective, a useless and self-centered putz who can’t make a woman feel good). Fran, a petite woman with dress size 36 who wore all outfits at least one size too small, had a fat mother. Earlier, I thought it was funny that the mother had no essential qualities except being obese. She was always thinking about food. Either she was eating or she was looking for something to eat. With food you could motivate her, blackmail her or get rid of her. Like a greedy dog, she often hung out in the kitchen of the rich musical billionaire to pick up something to snack on here or there. As a fat person, so she was made out, she had nothing else in mind or in her head except the next meal: being fat was her character.

The stigma of the uncontrolled, undisciplined and gluttonous fat person was also genuinely fueled in "The Big Bang Theory", another series I binged from the first episode to the last. The only thick character is Howard’s mother Mrs. Wolowitz. What you üll learn about her: She’s fat, has a übermä& aperture;ure appetite, and likes to talk übout her bowel movements. Thus Mrs. Wolowitz is reduced to her physical identity and made out to be a figure of fun. As a viewer, you learn that she must really be very fat, because the other characters make jokes about her figure.

Bodyshaming like something out of a picture book

A fat body that could confirm or refute this image raised in the viewer’s imagination is never seen in the series. The character in question is always hidden behind a door or screaming from another room. Even though I actually liked the nerd humor of the series, from today’s perspective "The Big Bang Theory" gives me an uncomfortable feeling for many reasons (for example, eating exclusively with plastic dishes and from plastic plates – nowadays hardly bearable both from a stylistic, but especially from a climate-conscious perspective). Of course, the TV series also features the King’s tool for body-shaming, the so-called fat suit.

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Kids, how time has passed! TV series from the ’90s and ’00s are the best example of this Photo: Getty Images

The same goes for another character in another series that I used to like to watch: In New Girl, the attractive and vain Schmidt turns into Fat Schmidt every now and then in flashbacks. Full of self-loathing and disgust, the self-confident slim Schmidt from the present thinks of his fat and sad past – Fatshaming like from the picture book.

The most famous and at the same time most embarrassing use of a Fat Suit is seen, however, in the recurring Rückblenden scenes of the series "Friends", when Monica, who was fat as a teenager, becomes Fat Monica. Fat Monica, in contrast to the very slim, "aged Monica, is a fresh-faced, laid-back person who loves to dance, but of course has a donut in her hand while doing so. Yes, Fat Monica eats non-stop (because, of course, fat people have no self-control), has miserable personal hygiene, suffers from lovesickness, has no desire for sex and feels unwanted. For fat people, that is the message of the popular show, there is neither love nor sex, fat people are not desirable.

Gwyneth Paltrow – nice try 2001

The makers of Shallow Hal, a romantic comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black from 2001, meant better. Gwyneth Paltrow spends the largest part of the film as a gluttonous fat woman in a fatsuit, only the superficial Jack Black, who has been hypnotized, sees her true beauty and her falsely as a thin human being. Even though the message here is not to judge people by their appearance, the main character in this story needs hypnosis in order to love a fat woman, who is also portrayed as a gluttonous person who is rejected by her own family because of her figure.

Amy Schumer, on the other hand, brilliantly shows how to do the Dick-Dünn fantasy right in "I feel pretty". After her character, an average-looking woman, gets a bump on the head, she thinks she’s beautiful and flies through life on whole new heights with this new confidence.

TV series and bodyshaming – times ächange

With the demand for more repräsentation and more respect for all who are different, the Millenials, my generation, have shaped the culture and infused it with new values. What used to be humor is now a NO-GO. And that also applies to body-shaming in TV series.

The first movie that replaced silly body stereotypes with diversity is, to my recollection, 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, one of my favorites and the story of a girl who dreams of winning a beauty pageant. She doesn’t fit the usual beauty ideal of the doll-like child clone, but with the support of her family, Olive pulls it off. Since then, many plus-size actresses such as Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer have played roles that remain unforgettable while serving no stereotypes.

And just as our society has become more open and today movies and series are more authentic, my personality has also developed since Friends, Nanny and so on. Today I can üt laugh about esssüchtige old ladies who still have chocolate stuck in the corner of their mouth. But I can laugh at the brilliant, super-talented Danielle Louise Macdonald alongside Jennifer Aniston in Dumplin. If Hollywood wants to, Hollywood can do bodypositivity. A glück.