Shedding For The Wedding
In China newlyweds drink tea and roast a pig that symbolizes virginity. In India families deliver their bride and groom by Hummer or helicopter. In the United States we spend numerous weeks de-fat-ifying ourselves on cable television just so that we can fit into regularly sized wedding clothes.
Shedding for the Wedding, the newest series from The Biggest Loser producer Dave Broom, aired on CW on Wednesday. The show brings together nine obese couples, who are recently engaged and want to lose weight for their wedding days. "Looking good," as they say, requires a loss of 120-200 pounds per pair. The couples compete for wedding items such as the "perfect" three-tiered cake and the "perfect" gown & tux, and at the end of the series, the pair that loses the most weight will win an all-expense-paid dream wedding.
The show is pitched at a society that has internalized the necessity of a lavish, white wedding. Many Americans believe that no expense should be considered too great for one's wedding day because it is the "most important day" of a couple's life; it is "their day." As a result of hosting enormous weddings in which the guests are fed five-course meals in the Acapulco and given keychains and M&Ms that feature the newlyweds' faces, tens of thousands of Americans go into debt each year. The Wedding Industrial Complex is a huge and profitable industry that has convinced people that diamonds are rare, that More & Bigger = Awesome and, perhaps most appalling, that their guests will actually enjoy goodie bags of candied almonds. So this is what is on the line for these couples — the chance to have an extravagant, immaculate, unforgettable wedding day and to look good in the photos.
Wading through the water of a four-foot-deep swimming pool has never looked so difficult. The corpulent couples huff and puff as they gasp to let into their lungs. What is frightening is that these plump players are not unique in their size; they represent a large sector of the American population. But unlike most Americans, these 18 participants have an embarrassing, televised opportunity to shed their fat suits and get down to a healthy weight. They have been given the privilege of personal trainers, the reward of expensive prizes, and been assigned a t.v. crew to document their progress.
As is standard on prime time television, Shedding deluges its viewers with clips of quarreling and teary-eyed contenders. The couples speak openly about their financial troubles and the possibility of not having a wedding if they do not win the competition. American audiences might privately sympathize with the contestants, but they will undoubtedly tease them secretly. Shedding is another of the seemingly endless stream of stupid and demeaning American television weight-loss programs — when will it end?
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