Can We Talk About How Poorly They Treated Like Dat On VH1’s “Charm School”?

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2009 New York Comic Con - Day 2

Source: Gary Gershoff / Getty

Last weekend, family and I spent a decent chunk of time binge-watching “Flavor of Love 2” and “Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School.” My stepdaughter, who had apparently never seen any of the shows before, was instantly hooked and got a good kick out of them. I was a die-hard “Flavor of Love” fan in high school, so I had seen most of the episodes a million times before. However, it was fun to rewatch them with someone who had never seen them before — well, mostly.

While watching the VH1 show this time around, what stood out like a sore thumb was how poorly the other cast members treated Darra “Like Dat” Boyd — mostly behind her back, but sometimes to her face. And while it appears that the mistreatment started on the set of “Flavor of Love,” it increased ten-fold on “Charm School.” As the only plus-sized competitor, Boyd was often referred to as less attractive and fat-shamed by her castmates.

The insults are sprinkled throughout the series, but there’s a particularly high concentration in episode four, which was titled, “Big Chested Girl No-No.” For this episode, the women are split into two teams and tasked with putting on a couture fashion show. One team chose Leilene to be their model while the other chose Darra. Immediately, the fat jokes ensued from some members of Darra’s team as well as the opposing team.

“We’re trying to find something to look nice on her. Something that would be free-flowing, but the only thing we could find to fit her body type was the curtains out of the living room,” said Toastee, who was Darra’s teammate at the time. “Darra sucked her stomach in and Crystal just ran around her with the tape and I’m like, this is just disgusting. I’m not going to touch it. Good luck.”

“She looks like a big ass tamale. Where did the curtains go?” asked Bootz. “Is she that big?”

What made this episode even more uncomfortable was the fact that Darra went up against a non-black woman and her fellow Black women on the cast proceeded to tear her down as though she somehow didn’t measure up because of her size.

“Why is she modeling?” said Saaphyrri. “It was like, Darra, Leilene. There’s no comparison.”

“Once we saw Leilene, everything went down the toilet. I didn’t even think Darra could be in the same ballpark as her,” said Toastee.

“Darra looked like a chocolate ass big bird,” Bootz added in her confessional. “She can’t walk on air. Look at her. She’s big as a house.”

“I would have never put Darra in that dress. Her back rolled up like Twinkies and fat,” said Buckeey.

Sadly, once Darra was in front of the judges, things didn’t get much better. In addition to being told that she didn’t have the proportions for couture by Keith Lewis, Goldie, another curvy woman, and honorary judge drove the knife further.

“Darra, her dress is nice but it could have looked a lot better on someone else.”

By the end of the competition, Darra was in tears and it’s truly shocking that she didn’t break down sooner. She was made to feel less than throughout the duration of the episode and from the looks of it, literally, no one stood up for her. Although the show aired nearly 12 years ago and the experience is likely water under the bridge at this point, a quick review of Twitter showed I’m not alone in finding the treatment of Darra unacceptable today.

Earlier this year, Tyra Banks was called out for her treatment of Black women on “America’s Next Top Model” and she even admitted that she made some “really off choices.” Perhaps it’s time for Darra’s former castmates to publicly do the same. It’s never too late for an apology.

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