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Friends is unbeatable… but that hasn't stopped people trying. You can understand why TV bosses wanted to repeat the success of Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe — universal adoration, critical acclaim, awards wins and monster ratings add up to a formula people really want to milk. The thing about Friends was that it was really funny, really heartwarming, and full of chemistry among the cast.

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After 10 years and episodes, Friends has been lauded as one of the most successful TV shows in network history. Outside of its catchy opening theme song and the cast's irresistible chemistry, Friends is also highly memorable for its slew of celebrity guest actors.

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Seventeen years after its series finale aired on NBC, Friends —the show that gave so many aimless, hyper-social young adults a kind of script for adult life—returns for a reunion special this Thursday, May But opening that time capsule also means examining the lessons Friends taught me about desirability—and no lesson stuck with me more permanently than the one imparted by Fat Monica. When I watched Fat Monica dance onscreen while eating a donut as a kid, I knew to laugh, but some part of me was uneasy.

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Even as a skinny kid, I could feel the specter of fat on the horizon—and soon enough it would catch up with me—but back then Fat Monica was the thing I knew not to let myself become if I wanted to be pretty or admired or asked out by boys. I owe her this. I never let her eat.

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And at age 17 I felt that reaction so deeply. It said a lot about what the world expected from me; deprivation and self-hatred, cattiness and pain…whatever would make and keep me thin. It made me feel that myself, my being, was wrong, was something to be fixed—no matter how healthy I am or however much I may be okay with myself.

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For Rebecca Silliman, 45, the portrayal of Fat Monica was a quiet kind of indictment and not one she thought to question as a high schooler watching the show when it first aired. Am I her? Is she me?

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I ask myself on some preverbal level, choking it all back to laugh along when Chandler Matthew Perry cracks wise. Is that really such a humiliation, such a bad legacy to leave?

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