Ruby – An Interview

I had a chance to catch up to Ruby Gettinger of the reality show Ruby and ask her a few questions:

Me: I can’t imagine living my life on camera. What made you decide to do this show?

Ruby: I was changing channels one day and I came to Oprah and there were these women on there and they weren’t as big as me. They were suffering from obesity and they were crying about how they couldn’t go out in public, people make fun of them, they don’t go out to the malls … and they don’t know why they can’t beat this. And I understood what they were talking about, but I live my life and I don’t let people stop me. So something just triggered in me that I need to do a documentary and show, beginning to end, my whole body and everything I go through to find out the truth. What is it—mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically—what is the truth of obesity?

My friend, Brittany Daniels, knew I was doing this and got in touch with a producer that does reality shows and then Style Network heard about my story and got in contact with me. They had a vision, they had the passion, and when I saw how much they believed in it, I said let’s do it.

Me: What’s one thing you love about doing this show?

Ruby: What I love about this show is that it’s one of the first reality shows that lets you talk about my passion. My passion is God and people and I really wanted to be able to talk about God – and they’re letting me do that is amazing. They’re showing me teaching Sunday School. They’re showing me praying.

Me: Tell me a little bit about where you come from spiritually.

Ruby: I go to a non-denominational church, I teach Sunday School, and I love kids. One of the messages I want to teach kids is to not define yourself by the physical. All these young kids, teenages, especially girls, there’s so much more to them but society teaches them that it’s just about the physical. But, no, it won’t last. Unless you’re a good person inside, unless you love unconditionally … who you are is who you are on the inside.

Me: We know how society tends to see obese people, or how you might even see yourself, but how do you think God sees you?

Ruby: The reason I’m able to face when people are laughing at me or making fun of me when I go to a restaurant, when I go to a hospital—you hear the whispers, you hear the talking—is because I do see how God sees me. He created me. He sees me as a beautiful person. He doesn’t see me with all of my flaws. He sees how I can be and what I’m trying to do. And my faith kicks in, when God says “the impossible is possible. You can do this, Ruby.” He tells me in His word and He tells me in me. And the way He sees me is the way I want to see me.

I’m not a judgmental person. Is it because I’m overweight? It amazes me how much people judge one another. And everyone of us wants the same things. We want to be loved, we want to be needed. Yet we’re the first to be so cruel to one another. But my faith in God gets me through it all. Sometimes me and God have to have little talks. “God why in the world did You let my skin stretch out to the outer limits? I don’t understand and I’m not happy with You about this.” Even though it’s me doing it, so it’s my little joke with God. It’s better than hearing “you did this to yourself, little girl.”

Me: I believe that a lot of people’s sexiness is about what they believe about themselves and they sort o project it. In your show you have such a bright and warm personality that really shines through, so I was wondering how much you believe in your own sexiness?

Ruby: You’re in trouble! (laughs) I think what it is is that I’m really happy. I’m limited to do a lot of things because of my weight, but I’ve lived such a great life. But now I find out that there’s so many dreams that I’ve yet to have conquered. There are days when I don’t. It’s funny, I’ll say to my friends, Jeff and Georgie, and we’re getting dressed and Georgie’ll call and say “what are you wearing tonight?” And I’ll say “well, I guess I’m gonna wear a pair of jeans and a T. What do you think I’m gonna wear? I’ve got like four choices, these dresses that I call ‘tents’.” Then she’ll be like “oh, Ruby, I’m so sorry,” but I’m like “shut up.” (laughs) But there are nights when they’ll come over and I’ll say “I look hot, don’t i?” Or “do I look beautiful, hot, or you don’t want to look at me because I’m so hot?” and they’ll say “all of the above” because they know they’ll get killed if they don’t say all of the above. Like anybody, there are days when I say “I look really good tonight” and times when I just feel ugee. But I do feel good about myself.

Me: How do you see your spirituality helping you?

Ruby: I actually took that Scripture “the truth shall set you free” and I felt like … there are people in this market making billions of dollars on diet gimmicks and every diet product out there. But nobody’s changing. The world is getting bigger. The politicians are getting into it because their saying that by 2010, 75% of Americans are going to be obese. That’s pretty scary. There’s something going on and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find out truth through all this and that someone watching the show something will trigger in them that “that’s what it is. That’s what the problem is.” I’m finding out more and more that it’s mental. Nobody dreams of being this big. They always say “why don’t you just lose the weight?” and I’m going “if it were that simple, I’d have already lost the weight.”

I knew that it was something bigger than me when I realized I was losing the love of my life and there’s nothing I can do about it.

There’s stuff I’m finding out for the first time, when I find out you find out. I’m like “oh my gosh, everyone’s gonna know this,” but I have to say “this is what you want. You’ve got to let other people know so you can help other people, too. This is not your journey, it’s everyone’s journey.”

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Ruby – A Review

I am not going to say that reality television shows are of the devil. I’m not. Really. I will say that aside from a few dance or singing competitions, I don’t watch much reality television because they usually leave me wondering “what the hell is wrong with people?” My wife on the other hand can’t get enough of them. She, like the rest of us, are drawn to story. We all have them, we all relate to them, we want to see them told well. If there are characters, we want to get to know them. We want to identify with their situation. Which brings us to Ruby.

Ruby follows the journey of Ruby Gettinger, Sunday School teacher, lover of life, and a person who cherishes her friends and family. She is also 500 lbs and has been diagnosed with diabetes. Flat out, her doctor has told her that she will die unless she finds a way to transform her life and bring her weight under control.

“I know who I am inside. All they see is a shell.” –Ruby

Ruby radiates happiness. She knows herself and has such a warm personality. She has a good spirit about her and that’s what draws the viewer in. The world, we come to appreciate, is not made for her or for obese people in general. Even the chairs in the doctor’s waiting room—who treats obesity—has chairs too small for her. She hears the snickers and sees the stares, but that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to be accepted for who she is, as she is. She dreams of things many people take for granted: To shop without getting tired; to paint her own toe nails; to sit on a guy’s lap. All put on hold because of her struggles with the beast.

“This is your life. This is your last chance.”—Doctor

The beast is her obesity and all the things/temptations that contribute to it. It’s the relentless, seemingly unstoppable, enemy within; her nature she struggles against. We all have “a beast” within us that keeps us from living as we ought to be living. An insidious part of us that takes root, feeding on our weakness, and expresses itself in any of a number of destructive ways. We become slaves to that beast, like addicts, and any addict will tell you that they are no longer in control, that the addiction is in control. The need for sating that addiction becomes the new law that lives in them and runs their lives. More than any mere moral rule, it has a physical aspect to it. It lives in addicts, indwells them, ever enticing, threatening, and bullying. So there is a need for transformation.

“This is about me transforming.” –Ruby

For her lifestyle change to occur, Ruby realized that her emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects were tied together and that she needed a holistic approach. We’re too quick to attack the obvious signs of the beast and too often fail to address the underlying issues contributing to it. Then we wonder why the beast seems to go into hiding only to come back on us that much stronger the next time.

Her journey is very much relational. We rarely struggle alone, and our trials impact those around us. Her friends had inadvertently enabled her. They loved her and wanted to see her happy yet ended up unintentionally hurting her. So part of her transformation involves leaning on her friends to help her. To be a part of a community, like a church, to walk beside her.

Also, she becomes a disciple. She has a few folks who step in as mentors or teachers at whose feet she sits at and learns/follows. Doctors, pastors, trainers, and a psychologist, each addressing an aspect of her problem. Looking at the scope in which she begins to tackle her problem, we realize there is no quick fix. It’s a hard road, a true journey that won’t happen all at once (and would be dangerous to her health and well-being if it did). Personal growth, in this case, the weight loss, happens in small increments.

“I don’t want to live like how I’ve been living.” –Ruby

Reality shows are about characters and if you care about them, you watch the show. With Ruby we have a sweet, charming, and funny “character” engaged in a compelling struggle. We all have people we love, who are important parts of our lives who may struggle with weight or self-image problems. Sometimes it helps to know that you don’t struggle alone. Despite my disdain for reality television, I’m probably going to end up watching this show whether I want to or not. It’s right up my wife’s alley.

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