Authors: Kate Stayman-London
This week, it seems no corner of the Internet is safe from consternation and adulation over the casting of Bea Schumacher as the next star of garbage reality show
treating this like PROGRESS?
For decades upon decades, the women’s movement has begged, cajoled, and insisted on viewing women as full human beings (not just sex objects), and we’re finally making some progress: For the first time, more than 100 members of the House of Representatives are women. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women are reclaiming our personhood and bodily autonomy. Fat activists face enormous prejudice in seeking vital human rights—like unbiased medical care—for the plus-size community.
But Bea Schumacher isn’t about any of that. She’s about reinforcing the same, tired narrative about who women are and what we should be:
1) She’s a fashion blogger who thinks women should spend our time and money beautifying ourselves to conform with the male gaze. (Sorry, just because she’s plus-size does NOT make this in any way subversive.)
2) She’s going on a show that insists that the entire point of a woman’s existence is to find a husband and bear his children. Hard pass!
Let the rest of the Internet try to convince itself that this is a step forward for women. I’ll keep calling it exactly what it is: the same old patriarchal bullshit served in a brand-new plus-size box.
THE FATPOCALYPSE IS UPON US
In retrospect, we should have seen it coming.
The first horseman of the fatpocalypse was Ashley Graham on the cover of
. And we thought, okay—so she’s big. I’d still hit it. Her body’s in proportion, just a Kardashian with padding. We never dreamed it was the beginning of the end.
Then Rihanna got fat. So did Taylor Swift. That chick from
This Is Us
got nominated for an Emmy—that was the moment we switched from horsemen to actual horses. The message to women was clear: You don’t need to go to the gym, just eat a sandwich instead! It’s easier, and who needs a bikini body when you can buy a bikini in a size 40? Who cares that you’ll be dead by the time you’re sixty when you can carb it up right now?
Now, “plus-size blogger” Bea Schumacher is going to be the next star of
. If you’ve never seen her, picture a barnyard animal that gave up on itself at birth and still thinks it can wear a crop top. And we, the television viewers of America, are supposed to believe that 25 men are going to compete to
this thing. “Reality” TV? Not even close. There’s not a single man in America drunk enough to bang this woman, let alone propose to her—and unless ABS found a chub-chasing cult from some backwoods swamp, there certainly aren’t 25.
I know what you’re thinking: Men don’t watch this show, so who cares what this bitch looks like? Here’s my point: Telling women they can look like this and still expect guys to drool all over them is a dangerous lie. It’s not good for them, it’s not good for us, and if we’re not careful, the fatpocalypse is going to ruin our lives.
to call Chris Evans! He has the best ass in America, like, canonically,” Marin insisted through a mouthful of sad turkey sandwich in a sad L.A. satellite studio on the ABS lot. Lauren had allowed Bea one last meal with her best friend before she went on complete blackout for filming, for which Bea was eternally grateful—even if the meal itself left something to be desired.
“You’re ridiculous.” Bea laughed. “How would I even get his number?”
“Slide into his DMs, then burrow into his heart. It’s like you’re not even a Millennial.”
“Great plan, but it’ll have to wait until I get my phone back.”
“Ugh,” Marin sighed, and sprawled extravagantly across the folding chair where she was sitting. At barely five feet tall with a wiry frame and chic little pixie cut, Marin hardly cut an intimidating figure, but woe betide anyone who crossed her (or anyone who crossed Bea, for that matter). “I can’t believe you’ve been phoneless for three days already. Do you feel like a pioneer on the Oregon Trail? Do you have typhoid? Have you been eaten by a bear?”
“Very nearly,” Bea deadpanned—but there was an element of truth to the joke. After three straight days of wall-to-wall interviews, she was absolutely exhausted, and she had to wonder how much worse it was going to get once filming actually began.
“So?” Marin clocked the somber note in Bea’s mood. “How are you feeling? Any regrets?”
Bea shook her head. “No, not really. I guess … so much of the last six weeks was focused on getting ready for this publicity blitz, and now that it’s over, it’s like, wow. I haven’t even really given much thought to the actual thing I’m about to do, you know?”
“Yeah, but the actual thing is the exciting part! God, Bea, you could be meeting your husband tomorrow night. Isn’t that crazy??”
“Yes, Marin.” Bea shook her head. “It is crazy. And it absolutely isn’t going to happen.”
Marin gave Bea a knowing smile. “You say that now, but I just bet when you meet these men, you’re going to see how silly you’re being. You’re going to remember how badly you want to fall in love.”
“Doubtful.” Bea rolled her eyes. “I know you don’t approve, but trust me—Lauren and I have this all worked out. We have a plan. I’m ready.”
Marin burst out laughing. “Sorry, but you’re going to date twenty-five men on television. How could anyone possibly be ready for what’s about to happen to you?”
Hey, this is Cat!
And this is Ruby.
And this is
This week, we are so excited to talk with our guest Ane Crabtree, who does the incredible costumes on
It’s a great conversation, so stay tuned, but first: I have a confession to make.
It’s a juicy one.
You wonderful listeners know my tastes can run a little highbrow and a little lowbrow.
You do love anything that veers toward British royal fanfic.
It’s my British kryptonite! Bryptonite?
Okay. But you may not know that I am a longtime fan and avid viewer of the reality dating show
I believe you’ve actually taken part in several betting pools surrounding this show.
If by “taken part” you mean “won,” then yes, I absolutely have.
And yet we’ve never discussed any of this on our podcast!
Well, I’m sure it will shock all of you listening to hear this, but the
I know. But tonight is the premiere of a new season, and this year,
Right, as if the idea that a woman who isn’t a stick figure deserves a shot at love is somehow controversial. So this woman is named Bea Schumacher, and she’s one of the more popular plus-size style bloggers out there. Even though Bea looks how a lot of American women look, for a viewing audience, it’s really unusual to see someone who looks like her at all, and it’s almost nonexistent to see someone who looks like her portrayed as a romantic lead instead of a sidekick or best friend or mom.
Right, and that’s where the so-called controversy comes in—if Bea were just the main girl’s best friend on this show coming in to give advice or whatever, no one would care at all.
Well, people would still be terrible to her on the Internet, because a lot of people find the existence of a fat woman something to get worked up about.
Sure, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, haters gonna hate—
I don’t think she coined that.
Okay, you’re proving my point.
Anyway, another question is how gendered the discourse around this season is going to be, because we don’t know yet whether Bea’s suitors will be plus-size too.
Oh, that’s interesting! Do you even call men “plus-size,” is that a thing?
Technically, you do, but it’s not a phrase you hear a lot—society doesn’t really feel the need to divide men according to their body size the way we do with women. The point being, there are a LOT of outstanding questions about how this season is going to play out, and I, for one, am really excited to watch, but also kind of dreading what the producers might have planned.
Right, because on the one hand, we have the potential for this very mainstream show to do something really subversive, but on the other hand, we’re talking about a reality show! Do we think they’re actually going to do something feminist and empowering, or do we think they’re going to exploit and humiliate this woman for ratings? Which option sounds more likely?
The only way to find out is to watch the live season premiere tonight on ABS, which I’m certainly going to do. Ruby, have I convinced you to give it a shot?
Well, I’m feeling pretty invested now, so I think I am going to watch tonight to see what happens. And speaking of investments, it’s time for us to hear from our sponsor for this episode, LadyVest, which is not a purveyor of ’90s lesbian fashions. No, LadyVest is an online service that helps women learn how to invest their money to secure their financial independence, which the women of