Fat Debate: People's Opinion

The Public's Opinion about Obesity
Erica is an actress in the movie Precious, and she is also a comedienne starring in the one-woman show Fat Bitch.

Dr. Phil
cameras follow Erica as she hits the streets of Los Angeles to find out how the public really feels about fat folks.

Dr. Phil addresses his overweight guests. "There's no question you guys feel judgment when you walk in somewhere," he says.

"Absolutely," Marianne says. "I feel judgment right here, during some of this conversation."

Dr. Phil asks Kelly to share the experience she had on a talk show in 2005.

"My album had just been released, and [the host of the show] took the album cover picture and took the picture of me that he took back stage and put them together, and he said, ‘That's not you. You're fat,' live on TV, and it absolutely destroyed me," she says. "It made me feel like I wasn't good enough, that I would never be pretty enough, that I would never be one of the girls that I see in the magazines. And it put me in this whole self-loathing cycle. One thing I want to make clear is that being called fat is one of the most hurtful things in the world to call somebody. It really is mean." She reiterates that changing one's lifestyle is extremely hard. She faces Jillian, Michael and MeMe and says, "I understand all of your approaches. I understand everything that you're doing, and in some ways, you guys are right about what you're saying, but the fact is that your approach sucks."

[AD]"That's your opinion," Michael says. "I've helped thousands of ladies lose a lot of weight, who are happy, and Kelly, here's the thing, you keep saying it's this terrible thing you feel, but unlike me being bald, you can choose to be large or be small. It's a personal choice."

Erica says she works outs five to seven times a week, has a trainer and keeps a food journal. "When my trainer and I sit down and go over things, it's like, ‘What's going on? What am I supposed to do?'" she says.

 

"Fire your trainer, because he's not doing a good job," Michael says, interrupting.

 

"I'm about size acceptance, and what I mean by that is no matter where you are, love yourself," Erica continues. "It is not fair for someone to treat me badly or discriminate against me about my size. I'm not about 'stay fat and be fat.'"

 

"There clearly is a choice element here. When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences, but at some point, you have to make a choice to be as healthy as you can possibly be," Dr. Phil says.

 

"I want to know: Why is it morally imperative that I seek this magical solution to become thin?" Marianne says. 

 

"I did not say it was a moral choice. I did not say that it was a moral imperative. That's what you, in your defensiveness, added to the sentence," Dr. Phil says. "If you're happy the way you are, and you're healthy the way you are " which you owe to children, if you have them, the people who love you " you want to be as healthy as you can possibly be. But there are people who are overweight whom I still would say are at an increased risk for having complications … It's not about judgment, because if you're really happy with it, then you need embrace it and not give into judgments that you feel."

 

"Why don't people allow us the freedom to do that?" Peggy asks Dr. Phil.

 

"It's not a matter of people allowing you the freedom. It's a matter of you claiming the right to be who you want to be," Dr. Phil says.

 
"I do," she says.
 

[AD]"That's why we're here, to have this conversation," Marianne says. "You say, in your words, that you have to make this choice, and then you frame it as a choice of returning to health or not. Whereas, we believe in health at every size, which is this concept of your body type is not the sole indicator of health."

 

"It isn't the sole indicator of your health, but it is an indicator of your health," Dr. Phil says. "That's a fact. No matter how bad you want it to not be, no matter how politically correct or otherwise it may be, there is a risk factor associated with obesity."

Dr. Phil shares his final thoughts.

 

Kelly asks Erica, Marianne and Peggy, "Are you happy?"

"I actually want to lose weight. I am not happy at this size," Erica says. "But what I want people to understand is that if we're going to talk about health and talking about saving lives, let's deal with obesity the way we deal with the other problems, the other dangerous behaviors."

"I think all three of you are so brave for coming on here and doing this, because I know what that feels like," Kelly says.

[AD]Dr. Phil shares that most of his family is morbidly obese, and some of his relatives died early due to obesity-related conditions. "I feel the pain of this for people, and if somebody wants to change, then I don't want them to be disheartened. They can do that," he says. He asks Jillian if she will help Erica lose weight.

"I will help her," Jillian replies.

"Thank you," Erica says.

Dr. Phil also offers Erica a consultation with Dr. Liebowitz, and she accepts.