I had the opportunity to watch TLC’s Obese & Expecting last night. It is a one hour special documenting four women who happen to be considered “morbidly obese.” Not quite sure what I was in for I decided to watch it. I stay away from other show’s on TLC like “A Baby Story” as most of the deliveries end up being complications. I have been open on my blog that I am a plus size woman. I am considered “obese.” I did have complications during my pregnancy but they came because of my crush injury. I had high hopes for the show I watched last night.
Instead of using this documentary to change the perception of “overweight women shouldn’t get pregnant” the show emphasized that very perception. Each woman featured had some sort of health complication which the main focus of it was because “they are overweight.” If I was pregnant while this show was featured I would be afraid to go out in public. TLC’s Obese & Expecting publicly humiliated overweight pregnant women. Just take a look at this comment and a forum discussion. These are one of many I have found today in response to the show.
For the record: I am not upset about this show simply because I’m overweight. I am upset because resources were not provided to help pregnant women during & after pregnancy, each story featured seemed to be featured as a way to scare overweight women into not becoming pregnant, and TLC only featured complicated pregnancies. I am all for becoming healthier. I have lost over 70lbs since pregnancy because I knew the weight I was is NOT healthy – not because of size.
I would also like to point out that ABC news must have not watched the show in it’s entirety before writing an article. The woman who had to have a c-section did not have to have one because the epidural failed. She was already scheduled to have a c-section because of her diabetes. The epidural was placed in the woman after 45 minutes. The issue was the epidural didn’t work. An epidural failing can happen to anyone, not just overweight women. Not every overweight pregnant woman results in a c-section. My own parents thought I wouldn’t be able to give a vaginal birth because I have minor hip dysplasia. They kept preparing me for a c-section. I proved them wrong by delivering my son vaginally. That a moment I am most proud of.
Complications from Diabetes was also mentioned in the documentary. One of the women ended up with a horrifying complication: bleeding behind the retina. She is still receiving laser treatments in order to keep her from going blind. This complication, and diabetes itself can happen to ANYONE. Not taking care of your body increases your risk for diabetes but not always. I have friends, who weigh in their 100s, who both developed Gestational Diabetes. One of them developed Type 2 diabetes. They ate healthy.
Why does America have such an obsession with vilifying overweight women? Rather than vilifying them, or closing the door on their faces because of their size, we need to support every woman of every size. Rather than focusing on the size we need to focus on if they are healthy. More overweight men and women would come out and seek help (if they need & desire it) if society treated us with respect & provided resources.
My biggest complaint of this show is I was hoping TLC would have featured a healthy plus size pregnancy. They happen all the time. Instead they used the show as ammunition to use against women like me. I’m praying TLC’s Obese & Expecting does not become a regular series based on what I saw last night. This documentary gives people another way to be hurtful to others. If this show becomes regular, TLC if you’re reading this, PLEASE show healthy plus size pregnancies. Provide plus size women the resources & information they need.
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for expecting moms of every size. Plus size women end up with all of the not-so-great symptoms thinner women do. We don’t need to publicly humiliate plus size pregnant women for entertainment.