10 reasons why we think the new Netflix show ‘Insatiable’ is problematic…

When the hashtags #effyourbeautystandards #bodypositivity and #selfcare are ever more prevalent on social media we have to admit we were pretty darn shocked to see the trailer for new Netflix teen show Insatiable. It seems to fly in the face of everything all body positive movers and shakers have been working towards over the last 5-10 years and does so with a big budget and glossed lips as it beams straight into your living room.

The premise of the show, seems to be a remake of every teen movie ever made, where the fat teen is bullied by the conventionally acceptable teenagers and in revenge, instead of realising she has self worth and more to offer the world than physical appearance, she gets her jaw wired shut (because every fat teenager is also obviously gluttonous and must be heralded as such) and comes back after the summer ‘beautiful’. Now of course everyone wants to be nice to said conventional pretty teen, as she is now ‘hot’. Subsequently said teen decides to extract revenge on former bullies…

Many of you might be nodding along to this familiar diatribe. If you haven’t watched it in a teen movie, you may have sadly experienced it but with body positive voices getting louder, in 2018 it felt like we were really starting to make headway in breaking the cycle. It seems even more desperately sad that a big machine such a Netflix didn’t have one voice that seemed to realise how ‘Insatiable’ might be an issue.

Here are 10 reasons we think this new Netflix show is problematic…

  1. Teenagers mental health and self esteem is at desperate levels. Having to grow up in a world constantly bombarded with an idea of perfection through social media is seriously effecting young peoples self esteem. Another cult style TV show, that tells a fat teenage girl she is socially unacceptable is not helping.
  2. Fat women are not a punch line – For years the only way the media could bring themselves to recognise larger bodies were as the punchline in a joke. Seriously Netflix, the world has moved on. Fat suits seriously should not be the way you get laughs. If you can’t make an actual original TV show, with an original story, then please do jog on. Fat women, especially as teenagers are continuously demoralised – we seed the idea from childhood, most prevalently in women that if they can’t conform to societal ideas that they are doomed to be ostracised from their peers and society. The more we keep reconfirming these ideas to young people and enforcing them through media, television, film and fashion, the longer this will remain as a poison in our societies. Yes this idea has been around for years, doesn’t mean we can’t be working towards breaking the cycle.
  3. The media largely parents for our children whether we like it or not. So even if you are bringing your child up to value their self worth beyond their physical self, shows like Insatiable will come in and sh*t all over your hard work. It is exhausting, but keep trying to remind young people, especially your girls that they don’t have to be a certain dress size to matter.
  4. The trailer references over eating / gorging and ‘filling a hole’ – essentially throwing a light on emotional eating, but then kicking it in the teeth by making light of what is, an eating disorder. Why? Because the character with the eating disorder is fat. Disordered eating comes in all guises, and emotional eating, like with most food disorders is related to our mental health, please Netflix do not under value the importance of young peoples mental health. It is not there for you to LOL at.
  5. Wiring the lead characters jaw shut – Oh so many issues right now – far more dramatic than the more commonly accepted gastric bypass (far less dramatic) – the show has gone for full affect so that people realise just how terrible and gluttonous the lead character was that she had to have her jaw wired shut. How much more can we possible demonise fat teenagers. Really building the levels here of just how hideous and out of control she was. Honestly did no one who worked on this show have a teenage daughter?
  6. Self worth and what we teach children is how they will see themselves in later life… these are the building blocks. This show perpetuates the age old myth that as long as your physically socially acceptable absolutely nothing else matters and if you aren’t, if you can get there any problem you have will disappear. It reinforces the idea that thinks like being smart, hard working and ambitious are ‘unattractive’ qualities for women to have, but most importantly, you must be thin.
  7. By now some of you maybe like, ‘hey. get over it, it’s just a tv show’ – That’d be the problem. Stereotypes continue to prevail because we refuse to challenge them. The conversation has moved forward so much since the days of ‘Shallow Hal’ and that fat suit. We do not need to go back there, lets give the next generation a chance!
  8. The fat suit – I mean obviously they need the same actress so she had to don the suit for the role, but I kinda feel like as soon as someone saw that a fat suit was required that that was the red light to back away. Fat women are not a punch line.
  9. The marketing and twitter roll out for this show  was terribly small minded. Anyone who thinks teens can see it as “just a show” and use proper judgement when consuming media have never seen a youtube challenge to eat Tide Pods. The network is playing pretty fast and loose with this one. They are using very triggering language.  Lauren Gussis (who created the show) says it is a satirical look at her teen years) recently tweeted “Feeling hangry? Satisfy your craving! Binge insatiable on Netflix on AUGUST 10! ” and other equally irresponsible token lines totally ignoring the triggering nature of the whole show and the language being used.  For those who have EDs or are recovering all of the images, themes and marketing language is triggering. Hence why so many have come forward on IG to tell thier stories on @florencegiven insta and sign her petition to stop the show. The perspectives shared there are very eye opening and serious. Netflix is trying to say that this is “obviously satire” maybe because the plot is so over the top – but for many it’s all too real. The worst – and possibly most unbelievable- parts of this plot is that they are in fact a reality and it’s ignorant for Netflix to ignore it in the sake of ratings and “fun” – particularly because the audience it’s indented for are more impressionable than ever (see: every “challenge” on the Internet) (- Written by Renee Cafaro)
  10. Revenge. The concept of this show is revenge. Not just any revenge, but high school revenge, which tragically the US has a particularly sad history with, as Renee our US editor pointed out when we discussed ‘Insatiable’. Dramatising it, glorifying it and championing it with bouncy blow dries and glossy lips seems unbelievably irresponsible.

So even if you don’t give two hoots about fat kids, this isn’t just about them, its about the social pressure on all of our young people and they deserve better. We all do.

Trailer: Copyright of Netflix


-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine