Dear Dan Fogelman…

**WARNING: This post may contain spoilers for “This is Us”.

I have a request of Dan Fogelman and all the writers of the hit show “This is Us”. Viewers have seen the flash-forward that reveals that Rebecca is not well, and the family is gathering around her to prepare for her end. Kate has been absent, strategically we assume, from that flash-forward. There is plenty of viewer speculation all over the internet about what has become of Kate and, while I don’t have any speculation as to her fate, I do have that request I mentioned in my opening sentence. Please, let Kate remain fat.

Let Kate remain fat so that we can see a ground-breaking example that reminds us to stop romanticizing thinness or weight-loss as though it’s the only worthwhile outcome.  Maybe future Kate is happy, maybe she’s not, but that isn’t really the point because people who are fat have complex lives too. We are more than just the stereotypes and tropes that exist about us. Sure, for a lot of people who are fat, focusing on diet and lifestyle changes are an on-going part of life, but also we are dynamic people. We’re educated, we have careers, we have relationships of all types, we raise families, we battle illnesses the same way people who are not labelled as obese do. We have bad days, and good days, and everything in between.

I know that you and the writers understand this, because Kate is more than just a fat woman on your show. She’s complex, she’s talented, she’s sweet, and sometimes she’s naive and she struggles, because we’re meant to believe that this character, Kate, is a real person. The reality is that people who are fat often never become thin. Sure, some people become less fat, and some even do become thin, but most people who are fat will continue to be considered overweight by the medical community and by society for their whole lives. Everyone needs to get over this notion that weight is simply about will power, or exercise, or any other single thing. It is so very complicated and many people could only ever be thin through illness or other detrimental means that should never be promoted.

While I’m asking for things, I have a second request. Some of the speculation around Kate is that people wonder if she’s even still alive. I suspect (hope) you’re not going to kill off Kate, and I’m asking that you don’t, for many of the same reasons as above. Please don’t make Kate a cautionary tale about dying of obesity. So many people live with obesity, and they often live to old age. Let Kate be fat and let Kate be alive. Don’t do it because I asked you to. Do it because it’s the most likely reality for Kate. Having body fat is not a death sentence. Help those who don’t already understand to realize that obesity isn’t a word that defines a person, the same way any other single aspect of a person doesn’t have to define them. I know that you understand the complexity of people and their lives. I see it when you address addictions on the show, I watch it when you explore PTSD. I see it in the ways you portray family members who fall out and then forgive.

I know that it’s not your job to take a stand against misinformation, social stigma, or negative stereotypes, but I’m asking you to do it anyway, because representation matters. Body positivity and/or neutrality is not about promoting obesity; it’s about recognizing that all bodies are worthy, but also coming to the realization that outer beauty should not be the feature that defines us. No one owes it to anyone else to look a certain way, but I do think we owe it to each other to be kind when we can, to influence positive change when we have the power to do so, and to help create dialogue that changes the negative narrative about specific groups of people in society.

Kate’s fate matters, not just to the show but to people who are fat, because This is Us.

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