Ever since the first preview of This Is Us was released, viewers knew that the character of Kate, played by Chrissy Metz, would struggle with her weight and self-image throughout the series. The trailer showed her leaving notes for herself on a container of cake in the fridge and hesitating to step on a scale, and the pilot cemented this theme. But the second episode of This Is Us, which premiered on Sept. 27, provided much more insight into her long battle with self-acceptance, as it suggested that Kate’s body image has been shaped by her mother, Rebecca.
This Is Us flashes back and forth between Kate’s childhood with her parents and brothers, Randall and Kevin, and the present day. In modern times, Kate goes to group meetings and works out intensely in an attempt to, as she keeps putting it, “lose the weight.” In the past, we see Kate and her brothers eating breakfast at just 8 years old, and after Rebecca serves the boys bowls of sugary cereal, she gives Kate half of a cantaloupe filled with some cottage cheese instead. It’s obvious that young Kate feels singled out, and she is somewhat relieved when her father, Jack, sprinkles some cereal on top of her cottage cheese monstrosity. Later, when Rebecca is putting Kate to bed, Kate tells her mother that all she had to eat that day was fruit, and Rebecca is snapped into realizing her mistake. Rebecca tells Kate that all she wants is for her to be healthy, and they share a bit of a sweet moment.
I hope that Rebecca's moment of realization lasts, because singling Kate out with her different breakfast shames her, instead of making her feel good about herself and her body, which is what Rebecca should really want for her daughter. Rebecca seems to have learned from her breakfast mistake, but at what cost? How much did that moment shape Kate’s difficult relationship with food that remains in the present?
Since we still see Kate struggling in the current timeline on This Is Us, it's clear that this was a significant moment in her life and we'll surely see how the rest of her childhood influenced her body image as the series continues. But with the pressures already placed on women to look a certain way in American society, Kate certainly didn't need criticism from her mother. Some parents may not realize the effect that they can have on their children’s body image, but moments like the breakfast scene show that even seemingly small interactions can have a profound impact.
Images: Ron Batzdorff/NBC (2)