Awareness

Thank You This Is Us Creators

To the creators of This Is Us,

 

I cannot thank you enough for creating this show. You’ve successfully managed to hit on so many topics that resonate with so many Americans into a story that not only has incredible characters but a plot that has me coming back every single week.

 

Thank you for casting an overweight woman. In a time when media just plasters us with images of thin and shapely women, Kate is actually the more realistic representation of what 2/3 of all American adults are: overweight. But you haven’t made her a contestant on a series around weight loss, beating in an age-old narrative that with enough exercise and restrictive foods that you actually can sustain weight loss long term. Sure, in a completely unrealistic environment it will work short term but that’s simply not real life. And for most of us, is not sustainable. Thank you for not making her an “example.”

 

Thank you for showing us that love comes to us no matter what we look like or what the number on the scale says. I work with and know many women whose largest desire to lose weight is to attract a man. It breaks my heart every time I hear that because the truth is, they don’t WANT the man that would be attracted to someone just based on their looks. The man they want will love them exactly as they are at this very moment. And yes they will battle insecurities, but the right man will be there. Just like Toby has for Kate.

 

But I digress…the timelines of this thank you letter comes after last week’s episode 13, “Three Sentences.” You see, I’m a Food Relationship Coach so I’ve worked with Kates of all shapes and sizes. I coach them along non-conventional ways to lead their happiest and healthiest lives. The methods I use to work with clients are not a secret, but are hardly popularized because they’re not quick fixes or belong to existing weight loss narratives. So to see this episode covering what it covered on a major TV network meant everything to me.

 

Through the whole season we’ve been with Kate on her weight loss journey, the group therapy, the insane diets, potential gastric bypass surgery and now the mindful hippie weight loss camp. At any given stage of this has almost every adult women been in, no matter how “big” their bodies are. But some of us just never make it to the big moment shown in this episode. We never look inside ourselves deep enough to find the source that drives our chronic dieting or what put the weight on in the first place. That scene was chilling in all the right ways.

 

Thank you for the rhythm of that scene. Many of us live lives where we don’t move rhythmically anymore and we miss out on how therapeutic it is.  As Kate and the other attendees begin to pound away at the floor with drumsticks, “Find the rhythm,” the instructor says. “What’s causing you to move?” he asks. “Why are you here? Is it guilt? Is it rage? Is it sadness? Is it fear? Maybe it’s loneliness,” he prods. “Whatever it is, I want it to flow through your hands and I want you to LET IT OUT.”

 

The pounding picks up speed, it changes cadence and we see Kate allow her pain flow through her. The flashbacks of wearing larger clothing than your mother at a young age. You are always to compare yourself to others. Being made fun of at the pool for wearing what you wanted to wear but because your body was different than the other girls, you were rejected. You are not good enough. Having one of the deepest relationships in your life fall away from you. You are alone.

 

And then we hear it.

 

The release, the release of all the pain in her life that she’s gone through and tried to hide from. That scream. Oh that scream, it brought me to tears because it is SO REAL for so many of us that just haven’t had the safe space to release into. We all carry pain with us. We’ve all been through horrible experiences that stay with us. And in those moments we seek protection. We seek to numb out the feeling because it was so painful. So we turn to food. We turn to food to feel like we’re not alone, to feel comforted, to shape shift ourselves into someone else – anything to get away from the pain we’ve experienced.

 

I know too many women who struggle with body image and weight. I know too many Kates that are stuck on the diet cycle and don’t know how to stop. I know too many people looking for a quick fix instead of taking the time to look inward and allow themselves to feel what they’ve been medicating with food all this time so that they can move past it.

 

This introspective work is not glamorous or sexy. I’ve never seen it being represented in mainstream media and entertainment. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for bringing Kate’s story to life and allowing us to see this incredible moment in her journey. I know her journey is far from over, but I can’t help but feeling that this is a new beginning for Kate. And for all her fans across the country.

 

Thank you for taking a stand for something real,

 

Samantha Halpern

 
 

All images are copyright of NBC Universal