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Size Matters

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Shaq’s Big Challenge. ABC photo: ANGELO CAVALLI

I just got a press release from an activist group I haven’t heard of, about a TV-discrimination issue that I’ve never heard voiced. Nation of Size, a group representing “persons of size,” has issued its first report card evaluating the representation of large people in prime time TV. It does not like what it sees:

After auditing almost 300 hours of programming in over 25 shows, the average SizeFriendlyTV grade for all shows was a disappointing D. Highlights:

- POS represented only 9% of total cast

- POS represented less than 7% of lead cast highlighted in episode credits

- POS were completely absent in 5 shows

The highest grades went to Two and a Half Men, Ghost Whisperer and Gilmore Girls. (Go, Sookie, Babette and Jackson!) The lowest went to Ugly Betty, CSI: NY and 24. (Of course! Jack Bauer never has time to eat!)

As a former person of size (as defined by the group, that’s someone “extra 20 lbs+”–is “overweight” considered a discriminatory term?), I’ll bite my tongue now. But it’s worth noting that just before this, I’d gotten ratings figures for ABC’s Shaq’s Big Challenge, in which the B-baller tries to slim down chunky kids. It finished with an anemic 3.7 rating.

Then again, Shaq’s Big Challenge is all about taking kids of size and turning them into kids of less size. Does that count as positive representation, or oppression?

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