I really think it’s kind of spectacular that a show like this is airing. At all. It’s so explicit in dealing with themes of bullying, being fat, suicide, and self-hatred. There are no metaphors here. It’s all displayed in its uncomfortable honesty, which is a big reason I like the show.
Anyway, before we get started, many thanks to Sophie, who commissioned this episode and the following one. (And yes, episode 4 has been commissioned as of the time I’m writing this.) The video file for “Touched” can be downloaded here, and all Mark Watches videos are located in my Dropbox folder! As with the previous post, it is impossible to talk about My Mad Fat Diary without discussing fatphobia and body image issues, so a general trigger warning is in effect for every commission post that deals with this show.
- At the core of touch is Rae’s growth into her own sense of sexuality and how we view our own attractiveness. God, this show is making me face a lot of my own destructive behavior. Look, being a gay man who isn’t thin has been a source of a lot of my sadness and stress over the years because… fuck, y’all, gay men are brutal to one another. I have been flat-out told countless times that I’m too fat to be hot, that I won’t ever have a boyfriend unless I lost weight, and then there was that whole disaster with my first boyfriend, where I essentially starved myself in order to be at a weight where he found me attractive. That is an actual thing that I did with virtually no reasonable thought applied to my actions. That is how desperate I was for affection and validation! Like, I know in hindsight that this should have been easy to analyze, that I should have recognized how horribly abusive and fucked up this was, but it’s not easy to step back from one’s own perception, you know? It’s like that scene in the opening of this episode where Rae zip off her fat and steps out of it. I cannot tell you how many times I have visualized the same thing, how many times I wished I could do that.
- So I also relate to Rae’s shock here when Archie expresses interest in her. I had never viewed myself as attractive. Hell, I still have problem with this, despite that I have had a boyfriend for nearly a year that supports me and is clearly attracted to me. Self-hatred feels like a drug sometimes, and it’s hard for me to ignore those nagging thoughts.
- At the same time, it’s empowering to see all this on the screen! Like, Rae’s weight-loss montage GAVE ME STRENGTH TO GET THROUGH THE DAY. Like Rae, I have one of those metabolisms that doesn’t make sense. I work out often – probably six days a week – because it’s cathartic for me. It helps me release stress. But I cannot lose weight in any normal sense, and it’s frustrating to see others slim down or bulk up with apparent ease while I work harder than they do, eat better, and am still unable to lose a single pound in an entire year. That’s the inherent absurdity in all this, though. It’s not that simple, and it’s taken me a while to realize – to fully accept – that all bodies are unique, that my own body and metabolism is unlike anyone else’s, and that I need to truly come to terms with that or I’ll always be living through this uphill battle.
- God, clothes. Can we talk about clothes? It took me so long to realize that I could feel good while wearing clothes! I always pretended that they didn’t matter to me, that I believed that they were nothing but a superficial obsession, when the truth was that I was bitter and jealous. Watching Rae get a makeover was important to me because it helped her realize she could be pretty in her own way. Look, half of the reason that I’m obsessed with bow ties is because I feel like I can pull them off. They make me feel attractive. And when you’ve spent a decade avoiding mirrors or being naked because you’re terrified of your own body, you kind of take what you can get.
- All this said, I was furious with Archie after he flaked on his date with Rae. I’m particularly sensitive about my weight when it comes to dating. I think I’m a pretty fun person to be around, so I tend to rely on that if I try to date because I don’t feel like I have the looks. So I’m paranoid and sensitive about any negative experiences surrounding dating, and it’s something that I’m sure other folks – specifically those who are conventionally attractive – don’t truly understand. Like, as soon as Finn showed up to tell Rae that Archie wasn’t coming, I knew exactly what Rae was going to go through. It’s happened to me. And even if the person flaked on me for another reason, I always blamed it on my own perception of myself. I was ugly and hideous, and they finally knew it. I admit that it was disturbing to see this unfold on the screen because… well, it’s hard seeing the truth displayed so plainly like this, you know?
- I’m starting to like Finn. A lot.
- I can’t believe I didn’t catch on to the fact that Archie was gay. Well. That doesn’t excuse his behavior with Rae. He’s still a dick! But I’m glad that the two of them have remained friends regardless!
Thanks, Sophie! I’ll post about episode three tomorrow.