A Dutch TV network is under fire for a segment on a new game show call Fat or Pregnant? in which a woman stood in front of teams who had to guess whether or not she was gestating a fetus.
It has garnered plenty of negative attention since it aired on Sunday night, forcing Kro-Ncrv, the production company behind the show, to issue a statement validating their programming choice, saying that it “shows how you can go wrong if someone evaluates his or her appearance.” The statement also cites examples of this particular segment on other episodes, where they have teams guess whether a person is a “criminal or businessman” or “Dutch or German.”
For everyone thinking The Netherlands is great. We reached a new low yesterday night. National TV game show: "is she pregnant or just fat?" pic.twitter.com/HlNiBGYeJ4
— Tandpasta [NSFW] (@TandpastaCB) April 10, 2017
As a health editor and ethicist, as well as a voluptuous woman often mistaken for being pregnant, I have a lot of thoughts about this show.
1. Did the women consent to this?
Anyone appearing on a show like this would presumably have to sign some sort of consent form stating that she has read and understood what will be happening during and following the show. Was this Fat or Pregnant? segment specifically mentioned in that, or was it part of a broad umbrella clause granting blanket consent to a number of different situations? Let’s hope it’s the former, but even with informed consent of the participants, we still need to think about why (and how) a segment like this was able to be made in the first place.
2. Were any women involved with the development of this show?
I don’t actually have an answer for this, but based on photos posted to social media of those involved with the show, I’m going to say no. If this isn’t a solid case for why people other than smug white men should be involved in TV (and government), I don’t know what is.
3. How about we not do this in real life?
I have been very open about my experience with people assuming I’m pregnant when I’m not. It’s not the assumption that bothers me or being offered seats on the subway unnecessarily — it’s the unsolicited advice and having strangers touch my stomach. Under no circumstance — pregnant or not — should this ever happen.
It’s great that people are up in arms about this game show segment; at least that demonstrates that they understand this basic premise to be wrong. But my hope is that we can take this one step further and recognize that no, it’s not OK to touch someone’s abdomen (or anywhere else on their body) without asking first; and no, you definitely should not tell a woman you think looks pregnant that she should put down that glass of wine.
Moving forward, when it doubt, don’t touch someone or tell them what to do with their own bodies. And if you’re confused about whether they’re pregnant or not, unless you are their medical doctor in an examining room, there’s no need to ask.