More than 100,000 people have signed a petition to stop the release of Netflix’s new comedy-drama Insatiable over claims that it engages in “fat shaming”.
The series is described by Netflix as “a dark, twisted revenge comedy” and is due for release on 10 August.
But the creator of the petition, Florence Given, argues that the show “perpetuates not only the toxicity of diet culture, but the objectification of women's bodies”.
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Insatiable “received a wave of criticism after the first trailer for the series aired last week”, says The Independent.
The trailer showed a high school girl called Patty (Debby Ryan) who is bullied because of her size before becoming popular after losing weight.
Ryan appearing in a “fat suit” to show her character before the weight loss seemed to prompt the majority of the backlash.
"We still have time to stop this series from being released, and causing a devastation of self-doubt in the minds of young girls who will think that to be happy and be worthy, they need to lose weight,” says Given on the activism website Change.org.
But Ryan, who plays the lead character, has defended Insatiable on social media, saying she “cares deeply” about how women's bodies are “shamed and policed in society”.
“Over the last few days I've seen how many voices are protective and fiercely outspoken about the themes that come to play in this story,” Ryan wrote on Twitter.
“I was drawn to this show's willingness to go to real places about how difficult and scary it can be to move through a world in a body, whether you're being praised or criticised for its size, and what it feels like to pray to be ignored because it's easier than being seen”.
Netflix has not commented on the furore but Insatiable’s writer and creator Lauren Gussis has said those signing the petition misunderstand the message of the show.
“I really felt like it was important to look at [bullying] head on and talk about it. And what are young women and, frankly, young men taught about appearance and how much appearance matters and whether it's OK to look different and it's OK to be different, and the feeling of ‘not enough’ which kind of leads through all of the characters”, she told Teen Vogue earlier this month.
“Because every single character in this show has a hole that they're trying to fill and they're insatiable for something whether it be validation or love, or money or power”, she added.
“We are not shaming Patty. We are addressing (through comedy) the damage that occurs from fat shaming,” Alyssa Milano, who appears in the show, also added.
But the trailer was also criticised by experts who specialise in weight loss and eating disorders, including Adam Cox, a clinical hypnotherapist, who told The Independent that the show may have an especially negative effect on young people suffering from body image issues.
“The series seems to be entirely based around negative connotations to do with weight, which is inherently harmful to anyone who has struggled with body issues,” he said.
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