Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathy Deitch.
Kathy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
About three years ago, I was frustrated by the lack of opportunities for a plus-sized actress in LA. Also, the auditions that did trickle in were insulting and derogatory, most of the time, the role serving as the butt of the joke. Just as I was hitting my limit and questioning my life choices, the Plunket Research came out with the conclusion that 67% of American women were a size 14 or above and that we’re shown in media less than 2% of the time. Needless to say, I was livid and wanted to start a conversation about why that was. Hence, Plus This! was born. A mutual friend put Eva Tingley and I in touch and we produced three seasons of over 50 episodes with a mission to show a richly diverse pool of plus size women and non-binary folx and their allies. We created scripted content, wrote a monthly article for Books for Better Living and hosted Love Yo’self Day events on top of our weekly live broadcast – Plus This has evolved into a media brand and community builder.
Eva felt a call to get back into school and the Plus This weekly responsibility was not fitting into her schedule. She still remains a producer, but I am so happy to have found Nikki Bailey as a co-host. Well, truth is, she found ME for her sketch comedy group and then I begged her to come on board with me. Season 4 has just begun and we have taken a real shift toward Fat Activism and those who are on the front lines of making body bias a thing of the past. Our hosting skills are taking us out of LA to work on events out of state and, hopefully in the future, across the globe.
Has it been a smooth road?
Self-starting is never an easy road and because we demand excellence, we have overhead that has required funding. One of our strengths has been being creative as we pursue sponsorship and viewer support.
Early on, we had a really terrible incident with our first web host and needed to take a stand against some rampant misogyny. Although we had a habit of remaining crystal clear with what we needed from the studio, the cis white straight men there felt it was inappropriate. “Mean” was the word I think they used. Because fat women are always getting the shaft, having to accept crumbs from fashion, TV and film, health care, etc. (you name it!), we wanted to take extra care in making the show look and sound stunning. It was interesting that the powers that be had a major problem with that. Some people just aren’t comfortable unless fat women are people-pleasers.
Of course, Eva leaving the weekly broadcast was tremendously hard, but because of the honest communication we built with each other, we remain dear friends and wish to work together on other projects in the future.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Plus This! Show story. Tell us more about the business.
Plus This! started out as a place for two out-of-work actresses to bitch about why there were so few meaningful creative opportunities for fat women in Los Angeles.
It has become a place that creates and produces their own content with fat people and amplifies fat artists, athletes, and businesses.
As we became activists healing ourselves through the discussions we had on the air, we created a community through events and with the guests on our show.
We give fat women specifically a place to see themselves, celebrate themselves, and free themselves from the shame that systemic body bias puts upon them. We’ve coached people on how to talk to their doctors to check their bias, how to confront their employers insisting on having a weight loss challenge at the workplace, and how to quiet the intense internal noise that takes up the mental space of most plus size women on any given day. We have a world to fix! We ain’t got time for that!
We’re proud to be changing our little bit of the world and making people laugh while we do it. Joy has always been the center of Plus This and will continue to be.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We started a vodcast (a video podcast) as opposed to a podcast (although you can enjoy us in this form, too.) because plus size women were not seen anywhere. We literally were invisible. So we needed our audience to see the fabulousness that us big girls have to offer. With the success of Red Table Talks and other streaming talk shows, we hope that people will be spending more time watching shows online for more nuanced conversations.
Now, body positivity has been exploding, but there is a dragging of the feet when it comes to FAT positivity. Society still has a problem with Fatness. In five to ten years, it is our dream to end policing people’s bodies and seeing body size as having to do nothing with someone’s character or health. We hope it’s a world where fats can no longer hide in shame and proudly be who they are in the world.
As far as media goes, we hope that American businesses get that if you do not include the now 68% of the female population, your product will not last. With fat shamers like Victoria Secret crashing and burning, we hope new, size inclusive brands will rise from their ashes. This goes for Hollywood, too. If you do not get that representation matters, you will fail. We hope to see much more story-telling from the fat lens like SHRILL and DUMPLIN’ which have audiences hungry for more.
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Kevin McIntyre, Edrea Lara