If you haven’t watched the new Netflix show “Insatiable” yet, then I don’t blame you. Many agree that the show promotes fat-shaming and body dysmorphia, and fails to address those issues in a critical or meaningful way. There’s even a petition on Change.org, with over 200,000 signatures, to cancel the show. But Debby Ryan who plays Patty, the show’s vindictive beauty queen protagonist, recently addressed the backlash.
“What I’ve learnt from the reception to the trailer is that the size of the reaction is the size of the wound,” Ryan told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Clearly this is striking a sensitive chord but the humour is not in the fat-shaming.”
She addresses her character’s extreme weight-loss, adding, “The redemption is in identifying the bullies and saying, ‘This is not okay.’ And just because this one thing happened to Patty that changed her on the outside, it doesn’t solve her problems because she’s not free of compulsion and addiction.”
Ryan is referring to when her character, formerly known by her peers as “Fatty Patty”, becomes popular after losing a ton of weight. She also spoke out about her own experience with body image issues, and why she decided to work with “Insatiable” creator Lauren Gussis on the show.
“Twelve years into my own struggles with body image, struggles that took me in and out of terrible places I never want to go again and things I choose every day to leave behind, I was drawn to this show’s willingness to go to real places about how difficult and scary it can be to move through the world in a body,” Debby said. “Whether you’re being praised or criticized for its size.”
Ryan was recently on the cover of Teen Vogue. In her interview, she admits that she initially wasn’t on board to do “Insatiable”. However, she decided to give the show a chance after a lot of contemplation.
“I was like, I just wanna be really clear that I’ve never seen rage and disordered eating and this want for justice [in a character] that’s so misguided. I think that it can be done in a really cool way, [or] it can just be a farce and blatantly mocked and move us so far backward. And I did not do so much work for myself to then get to a place of regressing the conversation,” Ryan said.
Gussis weighed in on the issue in a Vanity Fair interview, saying, “So many of the messages I believed as a kid growing up were, if you fix your outside, suddenly you’re a good person,” Lauren told Vanity Fair. “If I only looked this way, or did this thing, I would be a popular 17-year-old girl. But the more attention I put on dieting or exercise, the less attention I put on my inside. Then I got angrier and angrier and I didn’t understand why.”