critics about ‘That’s big love’

«Look first and then judge,» said Lotte Vanwezemael after the angry reactions to the trailer of her new program ‘Da’s big love’. Three critics put their money where their mouth is, glancing at the opening episode: “Why is it all about scales and fat levels again 90 percent of the time?”

Jasper Van Loy

In the new Play4 program ‘Da’s fat love’, four plump couples try to find the way to a healthy lifestyle. That set-up already heated up when the trailer appeared two weeks ago. “The voice-over immediately said that the couples have a ‘heavy’ problem and that the cause of that problem would be ‘simple’, or that there would even be only one cause. But unhealthy living is so much more than being fat,” says Marijne Van Boeckel† She is a body positivity activist and launched the hashtag #thick love on Instagram, which sees curvier couples shouting their love from the rooftops.

Lotte Vanwezemael, who participates in ‘Da’s Dikke Liefde’ as a sexologist and psychologist, took on the defense of the program in Humo. “It’s a misconception that it’s just about being overweight. We have long since passed the idea that people have to lose weight to be happy.” Vanwezemael was surprised that the format was criticized so quickly: “First watch an entire episode and then judge.”

Van Boeckel did so at our question, along with two other women who criticized the trailer of the program in the media: Hanne Cuyperswho posed with her boyfriend under #dikkeliefde, and dietician Celien Romboutsauthor of the anti-diet book ‘F*ck it’, Monday I really start.

Old pictures

“I continue to regret that in 2022 we still have to watch a program about fat people who are unhealthy,” says Rombouts. “Of course there is a link between weight and health, but that doesn’t mean that all overweight people are unhealthy, lazy and unhappy. Studies show that a third of overweight people are metabolically healthy and that more than 30 percent of people with a weight within the norms are unhealthy.”

Van Boeckel and Cuypers also find the emphasis on overweight harmful. «Lotte says she hopes that the participants will love themselves again,» says Cuypers. “That’s a nice angle on paper, but why is it about weight and fat values ​​90 percent of the time?”

Lotte Vanwezemael works as a sexologist and psychologist on ‘Da’s big love’.Statue Stefaan Temmerman

Sports doctor Servatius Binge together with Lotte Vanwezemael guides the candidates and assures us that his work with the candidates goes much deeper than just stepping on the scales. “But to deny the link between weight and health would be wrong. We do not reduce the participants to the number on the scale, but we do start from there to stimulate their physical and mental well-being. That will be discussed later in the program.”

«I don’t think that the makers of ‘Da’s big love’ have bad intentions,” says Van Boeckel. «But I do have problems with Lotte and Servaas’ use of words. With an old photo of candidate Dilly you hear Servaas say: ‘That used to be a pretty young lady.’ But I still see a pretty lady. Just because she’s a bit fuller doesn’t mean she’s suddenly ugly.”

Cuypers had a hard time with the candidate’s story Zoe, who lost her leg in an accident: « About her Servaas said that she had to carry her weight ‘on one leg too’. It wasn’t clear to me if he meant that as a joke, but how wrong can you be as a doctor?”

“It’s true that sometimes we say something that contains judgment and as a healthcare professional we should avoid that. In this I agree with the critics”, replies Bingé. “But the bond we built with the couples went beyond a purely therapeutic relationship after six months. The best proof? Last week we watched the first episode with the candidates as one group of friends.”

body scan

In addition to being a sports doctor and a psychologist-sexologist, Celien Rombouts would also have liked to see a dietician in ‘Da’s big love’. «The candidates lack good advice about nutrition. For example, Servaas tells a candidate to avoid snacks, but without snacks people often become more starving when they start a main meal, with the result that they overeat themselves faster. Snacks fit perfectly into a healthy lifestyle.”

In addition, Rombouts, like Cuypers and Van Boeckel, thinks it is a shame that Bingé measures the body mass index (BMI) of the candidates. «Bodybuilders can have a BMI of 30 and still be healthy, while someone with a so-called ‘healthy’ BMI can also be unhealthy. Based on such an outdated number, the participants of ‘Da’s big love’ are placed in the danger zone and that is not okay.”

Sports doctor Servaas Bingé accompanies one of the participants in 'Da's big love'.  Image RV

Sports doctor Servaas Bingé accompanies one of the participants in ‘Da’s big love’.Image RV

“BMI has never been relevant, but the term has become established and people know the weaknesses of that number too,” says Bingé. «The candidates receive a full body scan in addition to their BMI, which tells something about muscle mass, bone mass and where the fat is located. We frame this information in long conversations with the participants.”

The dietitian and the two activists reach the same conclusion after an hour of television: no problem with people working on their health on the screen, but it’s a shame that they are fat people again. “Even slim couples can smoke, drink too much or live on takeout,” says Van Boeckel. “That’s healthy love instead of ‘That’s fat love’, I would have loved to see that on TV.”

‘That’s big love’, every Monday at 8.35 pm on Play4.


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