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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality series chronicles the weight-loss struggle of a morbidly obese woman who's trying to become physically and emotionally healthier. It highlights the need to eat nutritiously, exercise, and identify the emotional factors that lead to weight gain while also looking at the challenges that overweight people face in their daily lives. Some of the conversations about relationships and the emotional issues brought up during therapy sessions may be too much for younger tweens, and parents may want to remind weight-conscious kids that no weight-loss plan should be started without consulting a medical professional.
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What's the story?
RUBY chronicles the weight-loss journey of Ruby Gettinger, a sassy, 500-pound woman from Savannah who's decided to face her addiction to unhealthy foods and sedentary lifestyle head on. Faced with the reality of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and sudden death due to sleep apnea, she turns to a team of medical experts, nutritionists, and trainers to help turn her life around. Close friends and family -- like housemate/social services worker Jeff Parsons, nephew Jim Gettinger, and best friend Georgia Thompson -- are also there to support her. But staying on track isn't easy, especially when Ruby's well-intentioned friends enable her to hold on to bad habits. In the end it's up to her -- and her alone -- to find the inner strength to deal with society's unwillingness to accept overweight people, break down difficult emotional barriers, and find the motivation to keep working toward her goals.
Is it any good?
Ruby's overall message is that a person can't succeed at losing weight if they're not doing it for themselves. It also emphasizes the importance of committing to lifestyle changes like eating healthy, exercising, and trying to understand the psychological reasons behind addictive behavior. And it offers a sometimes painfully honest look at what Ruby and people of her size face every day while navigating through a world that isn't designed for them, including activities as simple as sitting in a chair, taking a bubble bath, or putting on a seat belt.
While Ruby and her friends do talk about how and why her weight has soared so high, the show's focus is more on empowerment and change than blame. But Ruby's need to confront difficult issues like childhood trauma leads to some tough moments that may not be appropriate for young kids. Conversations about romance and sex, although mild, are a little iffy, too. But despite these moments, the series is positive overall and no doubt will serve as a source of inspiration for people who find themselves struggling with their own weight loss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people choose to feature their personal problems and/or struggles on reality shows. Why do you think Ruby decided to discuss her battle with obesity in such a public forum? Do you think it will help or hurt her chances of being successful? Families can also discuss health and body image. Does being healthy mean you have to be thin? Parents, check out our tips for talking to your kids about their physical health and its relationship to the media.