As a rule, fat bodies are only allowed to be made the butt of jokes or the subject of bullying. They most often exist as villains or gluttons, unless the character in question is playing into the "good-fatty" dichotomy by trying to "better" their life through weight loss.
4 Fat-Positive Netflix Picks (And One You Should Avoid) From An Entertainment-Loving Fat Babe
People in my life are always recommending things to catch on Netflix -- I imagine because anyone who knows me knows how much I love to ingest media through my eyeballs.
But anyone who REALLY knows me knows that I'm a total sucker for anything that features a fat babe, front and center.
Many people suggested I watch "The Bachelorette" when it made an appearance on the Netflix library a while back, which seemed like a pretty good idea because I am obviously ALL ABOUT Rebel Wilson. But SURPRISE -- she's actually the supporting role to an all-thin cast who body-shame her every step of the way.
Not exactly the feel-good fat-friendly experience I was looking forward to.
It's a total shame, really -- the film could have been so much better if it had focused less on the destructively vain, selfish, coke-addicted, conventionally attractive thin characters and focused more on Rebel’s character and her husband being in love and kicking ass.
Major bummer, but this is just par for the course for any Hollywood film that features a fat character.
Fat characters reflecting on actual fat experiences are rarities, as the media consistently chooses to focus on the negative aspects of fat dispositions more than anything else, thereby reinforcing the kind of fat-people tropes that condemn us.
Luckily, you have me to weed through the bullshit and find all the precious fat-positive entertainment jewels available for your streaming pleasure, because they DO EXIST -- and maybe if we keep celebrating them, we can continue to create a demand for more.
Straight off: this film has sex, sass, beauty, love, and A FABULOUS FAT DANCE SEQUENCE at the end. Need I go on? (I will anyway.)
As the Netflix summary states:
"When a salon refuses to hire her because of her plump figure, irrepressible hair stylist Kathi plots revenge by opening her own beauty parlor next door. But when she faces a cash-flow problem, Kathi resorts to some creative means of raising capital."
While the storyline is uplifting and the acting is spot-on, I found myself reacting more viscerally to seeing a fat body on screen than I ever had before.
There’s this scene within the first 15 minutes, where the fat leading lady wiggles out of a dress after a night of dancing, pulls the tight fabric down to her waist, and collapses back onto the bed with a sigh as her naked breasts wiggle and splay out to the sides.
I had never identified so intimately with a character like that before, portrayed by a woman my size, in such a simple scene.
It made my heart sing.
2) Reggie Watts in Why $#!+ So Crazy? (and Comedy Bang Bang!)
Reggie Watts is a fucking powerhouse of comedic and musical talent; a majestic puffy-haired, fuzzy-bearded beastly beauty wrapped up in vibrant button-downs, bow ties, and suspenders.
To put it frankly: I want to crawl all up in his body-space and get friendly with his mouth-region.
But putting my sexual attraction aside, dude is crazy talented at inciting laughter and hip-swiveling movements from his audience at the same time. And I just love watching a confident, talented fat dude doing his thing with a proud and unapologetic paunch.
You can catch him co-hosting Comedy Bang! Bang! with Scott Auckerman, as well. I've watched the first season at least three times already, due mostly in part to my love for Watts' unique and mostly improvised approach to humor and music. I can't get enough.
I especially recommend catching "Reggie Watts: Why $#!+ So Crazy?" (a Comedy Central showcase) to catch a heavy dose of his immense flavor. He loops and layers his own voice to make stunning compositions on the fly and it's absolutely the coolest thing to watch.
At first, I wasn't sure I'd be too keen on this show, given the state of the Netflix summary:
"Karma catches up with superficial, stick-thin Deb Dobkins in this engaging comedy series when she dies and returns to Earth in the body of smart, plus-sized attorney Jane Bingum, who's just the type of person Deb dismissed in her previous life."
So karma catches up on a woman by putting her in a fat body? Seriously?
Sure, the show is kind of sugary-sweet (I mean, it IS a Lifetime Original), and there are a few low-blow fat-negative instances in the storyline, but I found myself finishing each episode with a sort of light-and-airy feeling about the world and the way Brooke Elliot's fat bod and her character's experiences were represented. So that is definitely something.
Annabel at Feed Me I'm Cranky details the many ways in which DDD addresses fat politics:
"I have to say this show does not shy away from tackling the complex issues related to being a fat woman in America. Instead of focusing on Shallow-Hal-like depictions of fatness that are one-dimensional, offensive and unproductive, Drop Dead Diva tackles things like sizeism, the pitfalls and dangers of dieting, the absurdity of clothing stores like A&F and the popular conflation of thin and healthy."
Also: There is Margaret Cho. Anything can be made 10x more fantastic by the existence of Margaret Cho. It is known.
This pick is less about fat positivity and more about providing good, solid information regarding women, gender equality, and body image across the board.
Miss Representation is a documentary that does a fair job at laying the groundwork for establishing how destructive mainstream media's representation (or under-representation) of women has become.
"The film interweaves stories from teenage girls with provocative interviews from the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Dr. Jackson Katz, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, and Gloria Steinem to give an inside look at the media and its message."
The interviews are pretty great, really (especially due to another Cho appearance!). Some aspects were glossed over that I feel should have been touched on more (especially regarding fat politics, which was only slightly addressed) -- but overall, totally worth a watch.
What have I missed, if anything? What are your favorite on-screen representations of fat bodies and experiences? Is there anything you thought was going to get it right, but instead got it SO, so wrong (i.e., The Bachelorette)? Share your fat-positive entertainment media knowledge in the comments.