“I’m so fat! I want to make my tummy smaller and my thighs slimmer.” extorted the popular girl at school one time while I was changing with other girls for a Physical Education class. She considers herself fat, ugly and pretentious. While most girls like me during that time, just looked at her with disgust and inexplicably told her, “No. You look fine. You’re gorgeous.” while ending that statement with a fake smile. To me, she didn’t look fat, or gross looking as she suggests herself. To me, she looked pretty normal, with a 28 inch waist and 32 inch Cup A breasts. When all the while on the other side of the room, you can see sliding with shyness the curvy girl covering her whole body as if the popular girl’s remark was about her.
In the field of the media and the world today, we regard that being “fat” is some sort of disease or an epidemic that should be avoided at all times. While being slim, is the best compliment you’ll ever receive in your whole life. And that the world revolves around your whole body, the set of friends you have, the lifestyle you are in and, maybe, the amount of people you sleep with. But what about the other compliments? What happened to “smart”? How about being “kind”? What about “sweet”? No? Nothing? No takers? At all? That’s just sad.
In the outside world, we talk about celebrating young women like Jennifer Lawrence for admitting that she does indeed love food and not caring about what people think despite how many inches the diameter of your stomach is. But at the same time, we also talk MOST OF THE TIME the need to identify ones self to these supermodels and the idealistic measurements that one should be in. When did 28”26”28” became as sexy as the 32”24”36” we once knew? Most insecure women talk of the “thigh gap” and the “bikini bridge” as if they are urban myths that need to be achieved by constantly skipping their meals and engulfing their toothbrushes down their throat to be bulimic. When did that ever became healthy? I have too admit that its really, really hard to be at least OK with your body when people are constantly reminding you and you reminding yourself of the different sets of insecurities you have.
I was talking to a friend of mine last month and she was telling me how frustrated she was with losing weight. Although I try to calm her down by giving her tips on just choosing a more healthier lifestyle by walking daily, and either healthier alternatives to delve into during her cravings, its the next statement she told me that got me horrified. She told me that she has a friend who told her that “she’d rather die than be fat.” My friend told me that she felt so affected by that statement because it seems as if the statement her friend was making was aimed at her, as if she shouldn’t live at all for being fat. I think that is B.S.
What I see whenever I see my friend, is that she is more than her insecurities and issues. My friend loves music and she tells jokes. She’s a supportive friend and occasionally acts out as a bratty teenager (even if she’s already in her 20s). To me, she is a wonderful curvy female character in my life because her weight is important to her backstory. She makes me laugh by her wonderful sense of making a point, not by eating, or struggling to walk, falling over or breaking chairs, or doing what other fat persons are perceived to do at movies or tv. She is who she is first, fat later.
My friend was the inverse of the roles of Rebel Wilson who appeared in Bridesmaids, the a capella comedy Pitch Perfect, the dark comedy Bachelorette, and in her own TV show, Super Fun Night. In all of her three movie roles, her weight informs and characterizes her character. In Pitch Perfect, she preferably calls herself, “Fat Amy” or “Fat Patricia” as she tells us after. Fat Patricia, hates exercise and prefers “horizontal running”, and in the end she tells her thin a capella friends that she loves them because they all have “fat hearts”. Now in Bachelorette, her character Becky, is a mope whose friends tread all over her and tears her wedding dress and destroys it and expresses their jealous disbelief that she is about to marry a handsome guy. Her character in Super Fun Night however, was a disappointment since Kimmie Boubier is the butt of almost every joke in every scene. And even though Rebel created her, Kimmie is always the fat joke.
In Rookie Magazine, Brodie, wrote an article on why she wishes that TV shows and movies didn’t make her feel like being fat is a joke. She briefly tells how disappointed she was seeing Rebel Wilson play this character in Super Fun Night. She quips:
“I wanted to love this show, just like I wanted to love Pitch Perfect (I did love Bachelorette, despite its characters’ awful treatment of Becky, because I find Adam Scott singing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” irresistible, and I love seeing Kirsten Dunst being a hot mess), but they both just left me feeling shortchanged—especially Super Fun Night. After all the years of crappy role models, I was so psyched to see an actress—who, like me, is a fat Australian girl obsessed with Salt-N-Pepa and improv comedy—make it to the top of the comedy world, where she could’ve pitched any show she wanted to. Imagine my disappointment when now, as the show’s star and one of its writers and executive producers, she’s telling the world to keep laughing at the miserable fat girl who loses the handsome love interest to her skinny rival. “ – Brodie Lancaster
A month ago, Buzzfeed wrote an article on how 11 Filmmakers (from Joss Whedon to George R.R. Martin and Lena Dunham) expertly answered the question “Why do you write strong female characters?” A good example of this was Guillermo del Toro, director of Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth. Guillermo said that he “wanted a female lead who has the equal force as the male leads.” I think that the same mentality should go and be applied when writing and performing fat characters: if we switch them up with strong thin actresses I bet we can’t even tell the difference.
A good example of a strong female lead is Queen Latifah. Queen Latifah is lovable, cool, funny, successful, clever and glamorous. She plays almost any role in the movies, like a waiter, a taxi driver, a security guard, a hairdresser, and most of all a businesswoman. I think what made Queen Latifah a strong influence to curvy girls is that she didn’t let her body get in the way of her success. She is of course first known as an American singer-songwriter, a rapper, which then eventually evolved into an actress, model, television producer, record producer, comedienne and now a talk show host.
She was also considered as one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists. Her work was always nominated for an award and earned her a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors guild Awards, Grammy nominations, Emmy Award nominations, and an Academy Award nomination. I think in a way, she’s telling the world that her body mattered less than her personality and her talent.
In a way, I understand how this “idea” has happened. Plot lines in our media today have reinforced this message that fat women, are unlovable and that anyone who pays any romantic attention to them is either doing it for a dare, or someone who has a fetish for young fat girls. And its so sad to see this idealism. Its like the media is telling them that the only chance they’ll get is for them to get their own Hal (Jack Black), from Shallow Hal. That a guy will be hypnotized into seeing fat women as thin, but everyone else knows their true size. He then falls in love with Rosemary, a bright fat woman, played by a thin Gwyneth Paltrow. In the end, when Hal sees the girl’s true appearance, he becomes a better man and learns not to judge people on their appearances because he fell in love with a fat girl who he thought was thin. He learned that fat people have brains, and hearts, and feelings and most of all a personality. What a hero! What a dream!
This shit matters to me even if I’ve never been mocked. I am disgusted by the idea that we are trained to laugh at fat women. We need to see fat people represented as real people in the media that will have positive effect on how real fat people are viewed and treated. And in turn they will no longer treat themselves as nothing, they will see themselves as their own Queen Latifah.
It’s no secret and it doesn’t take a genius to know that pretty much everyone is treated like garbage, to one degree or another, in the eyes of the media. If one is too skinny, people are gonna mock it, if one is too fat, people will mock it. If a person is gaining weight, people will mock it. I like how shows nowadays are changing the view of society. TV shows like Modern Family where gay couples are living together, and talk shows like The Ellen DeGeneres show where Ellen even said during the People’s Choice Awards, that her show is for all people whether they are gay, straight, transgender, white, and black.
I’m glad that my friend is surrounded by people like I am who goes beyond looking over her weight. Her weight is incidental, and is a huge part of who she is, but it shouldn’t be defining her. Hopefully in the future, fat women on TV and in movies would stop being presented as sad, lonely, miserable, and hopeless jokes so people will stop calling them and presume that they are like that. I hope that one day these girls will no longer be assumed to be desperate on longing for men to jump with them on their beds. I hope that one day, they, and all girls will have their own Mr. Darcy who is willing to say, “I like big girls.” Maybe, their personality, their dance moves, their sense of humor and who they are as a person will be the first thing they acknowledge and respect.