So, last night I was watching “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (RWHONJ) (Yes, I know… How can I watch that?!). I watch it because it’s like watching a train wreck or a car accident out of morbid curiosity. I just want to see how many times these women can take a dip in the river of DE-NIAL that is their lives. (Yes, I know…it’s scripted.)
Anywho, last night’s episode was a bit of a check in with Lauren Manzo and the success of her diet plan. Lauren and her father, Albert, are having some father/daughter time, chatting while hitting golf balls. During their conversation, there are “break-ins” where Albert has a “confessional” moment, confiding in the audience. He admits that he was relieved that Lauren was overweight during high school because she was the boys’ best friend, rather than the one the boys wanted to date; no boy wants to day overweight girls.
I get that as a father it was easier for him because he didn’t have to stand around with a “shotgun” fighting off the boys that would have potentially dated Lauren, had she been thinner.
However, what kind of message is that for a young woman to hear from her father?! I don’t know if she ever got that or heard that from him while growing up, but sh probably saw what we, the audience saw last night. I get we live in a superficial, “only-the-thin-people-get-what-they-want” society, however do we have to continually instill that in every single forthcoming generation?! When do we break the cycle that outer beauty is more important than inner beauty?
I get being overweight, from a health POV isn’t a good thing. Being overweight myself and trying to overcome my type 2 diabetes so that I’m no longer insulin-dependent; I get that there are health downfalls from being overweight. I get that there is an epidemic of obesity that exists among our children that needs to be squashed ASAP. I get it.
However, this particular episode of RHWONJ was dealing with the superficiality of dieting (Lauren wants to feel better about herself; Caroline doesn’t want Lauren to hurt anymore because of the societal stigma that you’re not pretty because you’re overweight).
I certainly wasn’t there while Caroline and Albert were raising Lauren, but if her current frame of mind and low self-esteem is any reference, they probably weren’t instilling in their daughter that life isn’t all about how you look on the outside. Inner beauty is what should matter. Don’t feed into this “I’m-skinny-so-I-must-be-a-good-person-and-deserve-all-the-perks” crap that society seems to think is what’s right. I’m guessing that if they taught Lauren that, sure she might still be overweight, but her need to diet would come from a place of “this isn’t healthy” rather than a place of “my body image sucks so in order to be happy and like myself I have to lose weight”. Lauren is beautiful on the outside, regardless of her weight; and in spite of her well-meaning parents, her inner beauty continually shines through anytime we see her on the show.
The fact that the fashion industry, specifically modeling agencies in Europe and some here in the States, are addressing the negative messages their malnourished-looking models have been giving, is a clue that society is s-l-o-w-l-y moving away from “thinner is better”. Let’s hope the entertainment industry follows suit quickly. However, society has a l-o-n-g way to go to assert the pros of inner beauty over cons of superficiality.