Body Positive TV Shows to Feed your Soul
We’re finally starting to see different bodies on screen, hurrah! Here’s a list of shows I’ve watched and loved over the last few years, in no particular order (cos how could I choose?) There’s probably more so please do let me know your recommendations in the comments.
I’ve avoided spoilers best I can, so dive in!
Written by the badass internet troll-eating Lindy West, this is one of those fun little Portland comedy shows where everyone’s uber-cool and drinks coffee, but it’s a very real, modern story of living in a fat body. It’s full of feel-good fuzzy stuff, especially the pool party episode which is pure fat girl heaven. Also I really, really want her roommate to be my best friend.
Watch Shrill here.
I expected Dietland to be similar to Shrill, but oh no… this is a full-on feminist show tackling rape culture as well as diet culture. At times, I likened it to Black Mirror with it’s dark, societal critique. It was unfortunately cancelled after the first season, it’s it best to bear that in mind when watching it (in other words, don’t expect a satisfying ending). It’s based on a book, which I haven’t read yet, so maybe that might fill in some gaps.
My Mad Fat Diary
Oh, this show. This is the one that got me. This was a full therapeutic journey for me. I did a lot of crying, a lot of journaling, and a lot more crying. It was freakily like me, it was as if I wrote it (I wish). My Mad Fat Diary is about a teenage girl in 1996 who’s struggling with her mental health, family, boyfriends, her body, her friends… but not in a silly teenage way, in a very real way. I’ve often been frustrated by the way teenagers are passed off as moody or acting like drama queens. This takes teenage mental health seriously. It’s heavy at times but funny and heartfelt at others, but it definitely makes you feel like you’re part of their friendship group. It made me want to be 16 again, but also made me NEVER want to be 16 again.
Orange is the New Black
The other shows I’ve mentioned have body image issues as a part of their story, but what I love just is much in TV shows is when they just have larger or marginalised bodies in them without even mentioning it. THAT is progress! OITNB is such a diverse show which allows us to experience many different women’s lives.
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting are all different shapes and sizes and it’s never a big deal. People in different bodies, just existing…whilst being funny and entertaining, and subverting stereotypes and tackling sexism in the TV industry. Yes!
Watch Glow here.
Don’t be put off by the silly musical aspect of this show — it takes mental health very seriously, whilst portraying “normal” women with flabby bits and body hair and the pains of getting ready for hours to the “sexy getting ready song” (above). It challenges sexism and gender norms in a hilarious, fun way. The thing I most loved is Paula’s sexy moments — we hardly ever see middle-aged mums being sexy on screen. They also do some damn good Bi exposure as well — bisexual people do exist, who knew?!
Drag Race DRAGULA
Okay, so here’s the thing… I’m a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and I sorta want to include it (big shout out the plus-size queen, Eureka!) but there are many ways it has not been so body positive. It’s criticised for having very high standards and limited views of drag, plus it took a lot of inspiration from ballroom culture without honouring the diversity of drag. As we all know, RuPaul is 98-years-old (he’s not) and comes from a drag = gay men in wigs kind of background, so Drag Race heavily follows this limited narrative. However, ballroom was all about inclusivity for trans and non-binary people. For more about ballroom culture, I highly recommend Pose and Paris is Burning.
I too had limited views about drag but over the last few years I’ve opened my eyes to what drag really is. There’s drag Kings and female drag queens and loads of drag performers who don’t want to be categorised as any gender at all. It’s just DRAG. Anyone of any gender, expressing their art however they want to. Dragula is the loveable weirdo sister of Drag Race — it allows us to see the queens that would be deemed too weird, too scary, or not femme or polished enough for Drag Race. Anything goes, and their challenges are pretty hard-core!
This short documentary series is the true antidote to Love Island. It possibly made me cry even more than Queer Eye (and I barely get through that without a tear in my eye). Each episode involves three contestants struggling with the way they look as they go to Greece to hang out with a diverse group of hosts, who are completely naked apart from some gorgeous body paint. I’ve got too much to say about this show, so check out my full post here (but be aware of spoilers).
Watch Naked Beach here.
Kathy Burke’s All Woman
Another short documentary series, following Kathy Burke (aka Perry — “yes, Mrs Patterson” — from the Kevin & Perry sketch in Harry Enfield) as she talks to different women about women things from the perspective of a rude sweary fat old woman, and I mean that as a compliment. There’s an awesome part where she sees a picture of herself if she were to have plastic surgery to make her face thinner and she didn’t like it one bit. She said it just wasn’t her without her double chin. Hero! #DoubleChinForTheWin
Watch Kathy Burke’s All Woman here.
What are your favourite body diverse shows? Let me know in the comments below!