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Millennials are recalling the body-shaming TV shows of the ’00s

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Millennials are recalling the body-shaming TV shows of the ’00s

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If there’s one thing that’ll make you realise how much TV has changed since the noughties, it’s the shocking body-shaming throwback clips that are currently circulating TikTok.

Most of us millennials will vaguely remember the sorts of shows that used to be the norm – from What Not To Wear to The Biggest Loser – but the reality of the onscreen language that was used is (thankfully) easier to forget. But alas, now we have TikTok – and the internet never really forgets.

TikToker @Aimeedoeslife gained thousands of views recently, after she filmed herself flicking through one of Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine’s famed What Not To Wear books – which features chapters entitled ‘Flabby Tummy’ and ‘Saddlebags’. The wording goes on to describe women’s arms as “fat sausages”, and their stomachs as a “pillow of flab”. Ouch.

Many women have commented on Aimee’s video with their memories of the WNTW era, with one writing: “It makes me so upset that I used to take this from my Mums room as a child and read it.”

Another adds: “This era of TV was unreal. The damage this did to a lot of people having these shows on prime time TV. Unbelievable.”

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Sadly, there are plenty of other examples of toxic noughties TV that have since seen fresh eyes on TikTok. There’s The Biggest Loser, from which there are some borderline distressing clips that show personal trainer Jillian Michaels screaming and swearing in the faces of contestants as they attempt her intense training routines. 

In one disturbing snippet, she says: “I don’t care about makeovers, I don’t care about your family, I don’t care about anything. All I care about is that your ass gets smaller… that’s it. Ass. Smaller. I don’t care about anything else.”

There’s plenty of problematic examples from Tyra Banks’ cult noughties reality show America’s Next Top Model, too, including an episode in which contestant Toccara Jones is scrutinised for her weight. 

We hear judge and former model Janice Dickinson say: “If the body could just slim down 150 lbs that would be good,” while guest judge Marc Bouwer adds: “she’s not America’s next top model. It’s ludicrous to suggest that she would be.”

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Another brutal and thankfully short-lived weight loss reality show was the UK’s Fat Families, which has also done the rounds on TikTok thanks to presenter Steven J. Miller and his savage commentary about the families that participated in the show. “I’m in Luton, Bedfordshire, and about to meet three right jelly-belly jumbos,” he introduces one episode. Yikes.

Even Friends doesn’t get away unscathed, with many pointing out that the portrayal of ‘Fat Monica’ incited problematic fat-shaming on the beloved show.

“I remember watching this as a plus-size teenager and thinking there was something wrong with me because I was bigger than Monica,” one person commented.

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Jennifer Aniston has actually weighed in on some of the storylines on Friends which haven’t aged so well. She said: “There’s a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive. There were things that were never intentional and others… well, we should have thought it through, but I don’t think there was a sensitivity like there is now.”

Times have certainly changed, but it’s also important to look back and reflect on things we want to make sure we never repeat, right?

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