Monday, February 11, 2008

Lifetime's 'Queen Sized' Adds Some Depth To The Obesity Debate

"Hairspray" star Nikki Blonsky stars in "Queen Sized"

Psssst! Come in closer because I've gotta big secret I'm just dying to share with you today. It will probably make me the laughingstock of the entire male population, but I can't hold it in any longer. This is something I have been meaning to talk about for quite a few years and now I'm ready to reveal it at last to the entire world right here right now at my blog. What is it? (GULP!) I'm a HUGE fan of the movies on the cable network channel Lifetime.

Yep, you can call me a head-over-heels, super-excited metrosexual man because I absolutely adore the quality of the content found among the Lifetime network films. I think they do an amazing job bringing greater awareness to important societal issues that primarily concern women, but also have real application in the lives of men, too. Such is the case with one of the latest movies on Lifetime released in 2008 that my wife Christine and I watched on our date night last Friday night called "Queen Sized."

I was flipping through the Charter On Demand movie selection on Channel 999 and decided to take a peek at what was available from Lifetime On Demand. When I saw the title of this movie, it intrigued me immediately since it sounded like it might deal with the obesity issue. And sure enough, the preview explained that it was about an obese teenager who gets nominated to be homecoming queen at her school as she deals with teasing about her weight from her fellow classmates. I looked over at Christine and said, "We gotta watch this!" And so we did.

What a truly outstanding movie and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is concerned about issues of weight, health, emotional distress, fear, dieting, and peer pressure. All of these and more are tackled and addressed in an incredible way through "Queen Sized." By the time the movie was finished, I got that warm fuzzy feeling that you're supposed to get after watching a Lifetime movie. It was well worth reliving some painful moments in my own life to remind me why I never want to go back there again.

Starring Nikki Blonsky, whose breakout role came when she was cast in the lead role of the movie version of the Broadway musical "Hairspray" starring John Travolta (in drag, no less!), Queen Latifah (who she calls "my sister") and Michelle Pfeiffer, and veteran actress Annie Potts (best known for her role on the television show "Designing Women" opposite Delta Burke), "Queen Sized" centers around the character of Maggie Baker (Blonsky) who is an overweight high school senior just trying to survive until graduation (sound familiar anyone?). In the midst of dealing with the agony of not being like everyone else at school and simply trying to be invisible, some of the "pretty" girls decide to nominate Maggie to be homecoming queen as a joke.

But instead of allowing it to upset her as it was supposed to, Maggie decided to turn the tables on those who wished harm to her and remained on the ballot to represent all those who rebel against the same people getting chosen year after year. This quickly endeared Maggie to many of her classmates who felt a connection to her candidacy and they decided to vote for her. I won't spoil what happens next, but "Queen Sized" pulls the curtain back on some biting issues that all overweight and obese young people (and adults too!) have to deal with if they are going to survive this thing called life.

Here are a couple of interview clips featuring Blonsky and Potts, who plays two characters--"real" mom and "imaginary" mom--as they talk about their roles in the Lifetime Movie Network film "Queen Sized":

I think the most intriguing role in this movie had to be the mother played by Potts. WOW! On the one hand, you've got the "real" mother constantly reassuring Maggie that she is beautiful and that everything in her life is gonna be okay while encouraging her to get her weight and health under control. Meanwhile, the "imaginary" mother that only Maggie sees (contrived in her mind following the sudden death of her father to diabetes complications) is rude, condescending, and discouraging at every turn. Physically seeing this image of a mean mother personifying all the negative thoughts that fat people have to deal with sent shivers down my spine because it is so true.

When you weigh a whole lot more than everyone else around you, it's funny how your brain will play tricks on you and some extremely negative and vile thoughts consume you throughout the day. These demons inside your head will mock and taunt you relentlessly telling you how worthless you are, damaging your psyche, and preventing you from becoming that person you were always meant to be. I remember those days in my own life when I weighed 400+ pounds and feeling like it was my destiny to be that way for the rest of my life. Lemme tell you, it's no fun at all. But I overcame it and now try to live my life helping others beat it in their own lives.

"Queen Sized" is one of those movies where a large person is given a lead role with a positive message and we need to see more of that kind of thing showing up on the silver screen as well as on television. I'm very proud of Nikki Blonsky for being brave enough to take on this role and lend a voice to the millions of girls (and even boys!) who feel trapped inside their bodies wanting so desperately to lose weight but are simply left hopeless and helpless to do anything about it.

If you have Charter On Demand, then this movie is currently available for free until March 2008 to watch anytime. Otherwise, you can access and download "Queen Sized" for only $3.99 on iTunes (just type in "Queen Sized" in the iTunes store search box in the upper right-hand corner and you'll easily find it). It will be well worth your time to watch this movie and share it with parents of overweight teens as well as obese kids who think nobody understands what they are going through. Who knows, this may exactly what you need to open the door of opportunity to talk about the root causes of obesity in your own family and start the healing process so everyone can choose to start living healthier. That would be an AWESOME thing!

Be sure to tell Lifetime how much you appreciated this kind of programming by filling out this feedback form about "Queen Sized." Tell them as an advocate of overweight and obese people getting the help they need, you are grateful to them for adding depth to the obesity debate by taking on the various aspects of this difficult subject directly. It's hard to do it tactfully, but they pulled it off very well.

Have you seen "Queen Sized" and want to weigh in on how it impacted you? Feel free to share your reaction to it in the comments section below. Did you love it as much as I did? Or was there anything about it that you felt was inaccurate or lacking? Share your thoughts and let's talk about it. Feel free to post your feedback with Lifetime here as well so everyone can see how much this movie has meant to you, too.

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Blogger cc1sillygoose said...

This movie is so great, I bought it from itunes!

2/13/2008 12:59 AM  
Blogger Gloriana said...

Here is a dissenting vote. I loathed the unfair, untrue stereotypes which the film reinforced. For example, I was enraged that, whenever Maggie was troubled, straight off she was on a binge - eating cartons of ice cream, packages of cakes, whatever. (I had the REAL version of the imaginary mother depicted in Maggie's thoughts - though I was nowhere near the size Maggie was at any time of my life - and, though my mother is long dead, I still hate her constant nagging, whining to everyone she saw - even shop keepers - and her insistence, totally untrue, that I'd be thin if I 'just cut out the sweets'... though we had sweets only on holidays.)

A few thoughts came to my mind:
-Were Maggie to lose the 25 pounds which would supposedly reduce her risk for diabetes, she would be far from slim. A 25 pound weight loss would not even show!
-Why doesn't someone make a film that shows what it REALLY is like to be a heavy woman? Endless diets, fatigue, not remembering the last time one didn't feel ravenous, the embarrassment and shame of places like Weight Watchers, finding one's girl friends use one as a target for ego games despite the constant weight loss efforts? One who goes from a size 24 to a size 16 is still 'obese' - and her friends will pester her endlessly to remind her she is still enormous. Or what of the endless social occasions one misses, because one cannot eat (only drink water - or only have the two ounces of pasta)? Or the spiritual, intellectual, cultural and spiritual pursuits one would have to abandon to meet some doctor or trainer's standard for hours of daily exercise.

For the record - I am more than old enough to be Maggie's mother, never was as large as Maggie, and have lost over 70 pounds on Atkins so far. Yet I deal with constant frustration, since, after the first year, my weight loss has been slow and very slight, and I'm much hungrier than I was while losing very little. I loathe stereotypes that heavy women are only that way because they constantly binge. Someone do a film about the girl who thinks her salvation is Weight Watchers... then hits a plateau after six months. Or the one who genuinely has a mother who mentions here weight in every other sentence. Or the one who, like myself, had a doctor treat her with contempt, telling her she was 'disgusting,' thereby keeping me from any medical care for years. (I weighed 150 pounds.)

2/13/2008 4:24 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Gloriana, I appreciate your honesty about how you feel regarding this film. You have done a fabulous job and should be VERY proud of what you have accomplished on the Atkins diet. CONGRATULATIONS and KEEP IT UP!!!

2/13/2008 5:05 PM  

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