In case your blood pressure was at a normal level today and needed a reason to spike to a ridiculously unhealthy degree, then look no further than this game show where men guess if a woman is pregnant or fat to compete for prize money. The Dutch television show “Neem Je Zwemspullen Mee” (or in English, ”Bring Your Bathing Suit”) aired the segment earlier this week, where it has already generated an appropriate amount of viewer outrage — particularly because this bit of inherently sexist body-shaming was aired on a publicly-funded channel.
KRO-NCRV, the channel that airs the show, issued a statement after the response defending the show's decision, calling it "satirical" and claiming it was a way to "laugh off all kinds of prejudices." But the consequences of airing a segment like this are no laughing matter, both in its perpetuation of sexism and its normalization of body-shaming — which is inarguably what is happening in the segment. Demonstrating further ignorance, the show went on to air yet another segment on Monday where contestants tried to judge whether or not a woman's breasts were real.
Since the show aired, many viewers have expressed their concerns on Twitter, and have gone so far as to issue a petition to have the show taken off of the air.
Worse still, this is far from the first time the creators of the show have aired a segment — which they believe show "how you can go wrong if someone evaluates his or her appearance" — that only served to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. A Twitter user pointed out that in the pilot of the show, contestants were asked whether to identity whether people where Chinese or Japanese; in other segments, they were asked to identify whether someone was a businessperson or a criminal.
While it is true that we are subject to our own unconscious biases and should always check ourselves before we make assumptions about other people, particularly when those assumptions are coming from a place regarding sexual orientation, gender, race, disability, or size, this show does just the opposite. Rather than point out unconscious biases in a constructive manner, "”Bring Your Bathing Suit” only serves to exploit them — and in making light of them with these segments, only serves to further justify the use of the stereotypes it highlights to judge people beyond the show as well.
But to hark back to the segment that has sparked the latest round of outrage: there is no way to satirize the judgment of a woman's body in this manner, because whether or not a woman is pregnant is simply nobody's business in the first place. The nature of this show, which reeks of white male privilege even in the short clips, seems to treat women's bodies and POC as objects for their entertainment, and are nothing short of horrifying. On the list of things that need Do Better in 2017, this just hit the top of the charts.