Fat Girl With Hot Guy

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Hello, THL! It’s been a long time, due to RL issues as well as plain and simple writer’s block. I’ve still got that, so bear with me. This post might be rocky.

I recently stumbled across a show I’d never heard of – October Road, on ABC here in the States. I saw Laura Prepon as Hannah and stuck around for a bit because I like her. I couldn’t tell you what the show’s about, other than it seems to encapsulate white, twentysomething angst.

What I did take note of was the relationship between Hannah’s best friend Janet, played by Rebecca Field, and Eddie, played by Geoff Stults. Now, while I do not consider Rebecca Field or her character fat, it is clear she doesn’t have the lithe, tall frame that is acceptable by Hollywood’s narrow beauty standards. (I wish there were a better photo there – she’s very pretty.) Geoff Stults, while he does nothing for me, does fit into the mold for male attractiveness – tall, athletic, All-American.

Needless to say, when I saw these two linked in a romantic way, I was cautiously optimistic. It looked, initially, as though this was going to be treated like a regular ol’ dramatic couple, with issues identical to “normal” couples.

I was quickly proven wrong, when Eddie was heckled by a bunch of guys about his fat girlfriend. It was at that point I realized that the relationship was a set up to once again demonstrate how fat girls can’t be attractive. They can only be around for ridicule – not of them, mind you, but of the misguided fool who does find them attractive. It’s all about the guy in the situation, how he’s stooped to such a low level in dating a fattie.

It got worse after that, when Janet was out with the girls and was hit on by an attractive guy. She, of course, was skeptical and a bit astounded that anyone besides Eddie would find her pretty. She was right, naturally. We eventually find out the guy’s intention was only to get back at Eddie by banging his girl, and he made it clear what a sacrifice it was for him to make this power play. What man in his right mind, after all, would think a beautiful woman is actually beautiful if she’s got curves?

This is the overwhelming message storylines like this are sending, even though Janet is clearly the sympathetic character. It’s still reinforcing this idea that women cannot be fat and beautiful at the same time. This is fallacy. This is old. This is incredibly uncreative and stupid.

I want more “fat” female characters who are not the butt of abuse like this or, for that matter, are more than the skinny leading lady’s quirky friend (see Melissa McCarthy as a reference point – another beautiful, talented woman typecast this way). Basically, I want “fat” female characters to just be…characters, not stereotypes.

Comments

  1. Dani says

    God, seriously. That’s exactly how I feel about the matter. There are so many things wrong with this. Not just because of how ridiculous it is, how unkind it is to heavier women, but also because it’s so damn sexist. I could go on and on about this topic, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say, nice article. Thanks for writing it!

  2. sbg says

    It’s writing like what we got on this show that perpetuates one of the most common discriminations out there. Not just the “you can’t date a fat girl!” BS, but uglier things as well, I think.

  3. D says

    Well, it is kind of dealing with real life issues. If a man dates a fat woman then he will be subject to ridicule from his friends because of it. It may be upsetting to some of you, but men are subject to ridicule from other men over just about everything. If you’re a larger woman, you can be sure that you’re man is receiving flak from his friends about your weight, but you shouldn’t feel too bad. He’s still with you, right?

  4. says

    If you’re arguing that there’s no way a man who dates a fat woman can avoid being ridiculed if he knows any men at all, then you’re arguing that all men are assholes who do this heckling. I’m not buying that. But even if I did, hey, here’s a thought: maybe instead of showing us that on TV, TV might consider showing men better ways to behave, and then they wouldn’t be such a hateful bunch of shits. ;)

  5. Dani says

    I don’t think it’s TV that needs to stop rewarding men for those behaviors. If women didn’t support it, it wouldn’t happen. Girls complain about the way they behave, but they still date them after they do these things, still sleep with them after they do these things, and just generally put up with them like it’s an obligation. Because apparently, that’s “love.” I’m not a heavy girl myself, so I don’t know, but one of my guy friends is dating a friend of mine who’s easily in the 300s. Not a single male friend of his has said anything, that I know of. But then, most of them have dated girls of all sizes. Guess it just depends on who it is.

  6. says

    If women didn’t support it, it wouldn’t happen.

    Dani, that may be true (it’s certainly logical, but sometimes reality seems to defy logic). And my experience in refusing to date shits is that other women give me a lot of hassle about that. Even when I’ve told them I’m not interested in dating anyone, many women seem to consider it a duty to convince me to “settle” for any man who’s willing to tolerate my slightly oversized curves. When I refuse to do this, they think I’m either thinking too highly of myself or am psychologically damaged somehow.

    I’m not interested in dating someone who doesn’t appreciate my good points, with whom I can’t have a conversation I find stimulating, with whom I have nothing in common, just because he’s willing to do me this Great Favor of tolerating my not-modelesque body. Thanks but no thanks.

    That said, it’s interesting how all dating woes are the fault of women. If men date, for example, gorgeous but nasty women, that’s the women’s fault for being nasty. If men date wonderful but not-so-gorgeous women, they’re doing those women a Great Favor. If women date men who are wonderful (in looks or other aspects), they are “spoiled.” If women refuse to date men who are shits (regardless of how they look), we are man-hating bitches.

    Why aren’t all these TV supermodel wives dating fat guys considered to be doing them a great favor? Shouldn’t the guy on King of Queens just be so in awe that his wife could be a model that he follows her around all day breathlessly gasping “Anything you say, dear, oh, gladly, if only you will continue to tolerate my whale-like physique.” Because that’s what fat women are expected to do if a good-looking guy deigns to care for them.

    • Jia says

      Nice burn Jennifer! I totally agree with your statement. Why is it that the woman is always expected to be skinny and good looking while the man could be a beached whale and people are just fine with it?

      I mean what’s wrong with a curvaceous woman receiving attention from a hot guy?

      Just because we’re “fat” doesn’t mean that we do not have the same desires as those women who are not. It does not mean that we are sub-women and I refuse to think of myself that way. I have achieved a lot and I will not let society or some skinny little bitch tell me otherwise.

      I think it’s an awfully shallow and backwards mentality for a society that presents themselves as progressive and non-discriminatory.

  7. Dani says

    Oh, no, no. I wasn’t at all implying that women are all to blame. I didn’t mean for it to come across that way. The truth is, I could go on and on about this topic. But media is a general reflection of problems in society. There are many improvements in bigotry in America, but it’s the ingrained sexism, homophobia, and racism that cause the ongoing problems. What I meant was, there’s a certain belief system that women buy into, like men. Women play a certain role. That’s to look pretty, to cook and clean, to spend money, and to dislike anything sexual. (Male self pleasuring vs. female, for example. Players vs. sluts.) Though the blatant expectation is gone, it’s still practiced without people even realizing it. My friend was just talking to me about how her boyfriend hardly made any money and expected her to pay for everything, then complained about her cooking. I was surprised, because considering how little he was working, it seemed he’d be the one making the food. But that’s the way it goes.

    Anyway, this is a loaded topic. I was just trying to illustrate the fact that it isn’t just “evil men.” I think guys can be total idiots, and it generally IS blamed on a woman, the things they do. But it’s an issue on both sides that won’t go away until it’s observed. Sadly, it’s the kind of social brain washing that may never truly leave our society.

  8. Jennife says

    Dani, I didn’t mean YOU were saying women were to blame – just commenting on a general meme in our society. We’re always damned if we do, damned if we don’t, and damned if we do something sensible, too.

  9. MommaK21 says

    I know I am very late on this, but I wanted to say – 1. I agree and 2. I was very lucky for a short time to be with a guy who did like me, whose friends liked me (in one case, a little too much) and whose family liked me – for me. They didn’t seem to notice my weight. In fact, my low self esteem is what broke us up. (Everyone also overlooked the fact I have MS, so I felt completely normal in every way with this guy.) But alas, my poor confidence and my asking “is this ok? am I ok?” all the time took it’s toll. I am ok with that, because I am a more self confident person because of it. So wake up girls, smile, and shine. Not for anyone else, but for you, to know YOU can have those guys. And keep them.

  10. Eileen says

    This show was terrible and deserved to die. I’m glad it’s gone.

    First… person above who said that all men get flak for dating fat women from other men… that’s not true. That’s only true of jerks who hang out with other jerks. It is not universal. There are lots of men capable of being polite to their friends, whether or not they’re attracted to their significant others.

    Second… the thing I hated most about this relationship (in October Road) was that every other couple got to have hot and steamy moments, but this couple just did some awkward hugging. It was as if the writers couldn’t stand what they were writing and just couldn’t allow it to happen. The result? Instead of getting a larger female character who gets to be just as complete as all of the other characters, she is made into a stunted and desexualized object of pity.

  11. sbg says

    First… person above who said that all men get flak for dating fat women from other men… that’s not true. That’s only true of jerks who hang out with other jerks. It is not universal. There are lots of men capable of being polite to their friends, whether or not they’re attracted to their significant others.

    True! And I get this ooky feeling that the repeated message of the jerky aspect of it only reinforces those jerks and makes the regular, decent men (and women) seem like they are few and far between.

    Second… the thing I hated most about this relationship (in October Road) was that every other couple got to have hot and steamy moments, but this couple just did some awkward hugging. It was as if the writers couldn’t stand what they were writing and just couldn’t allow it to happen.

    Considering the overall message they meant to convey was “fat girl with a hot guy will never work because hot guy can’t pretend not to care that she’s fat long enough”. Even if that’s not the character’s motivations, it sure rings that way.

  12. Juls says

    I felt bad about that storyline too, the portrayal of the relationship was very unrealistic; or realistic for high school, at best.
    But I don’t think not calling things by their name does anyone any good.
    Janet/Rebecca is fat. And pretty.

  13. sbg says

    But I don’t think not calling things by their name does anyone any good.
    Janet/Rebecca is fat. And pretty.

    I was simply saying my gauge for fat is different, not that she isn’t fat. I don’t consider many people fat who are, in fact, fat.

  14. Staylor says

    I remember a movie that I believe was called “Monsoon Wedding” in which the lead female was overweight (again, not terribly overweight, but certainly NOT what we are used to seeing in movies/television) and my favorite thing about this was…HER WEIGHT WAS NOT MENTIONED!!! Here she was getting married and dealing with a romance and in no way was her weight an issue – no “i’m so fat, I can’t fit into my dress”, no “it was so difficult to find a man who accepted me” – nothin’! I think this was an East Indian film, as I can imagine that if this were made in the U.S. it would change to “The Day the Fat Girl Finally Found Someone To Marry Her, Poor Thing”.

    • Gabriel says

      Better yet, Aditi (the girl getting married) was considered a great beauty by her family. Her cousin Ria (my favorite character) was also a big petunia (again, not fat by my standards, but chubby–and definitely fat by Hollywood standards) was being set up at the end of the film with a really good-looking, successful guy, and again, her weight wasn’t even an issue. Just one of many reasons why I adore this movie!

  15. Staylor says

    Also related to this is that while my husband has remained the trim, athletic and handsome man I met 10 years ago, I’ve gained 100 pounds over the years. I think people who have only known me as fat are surprised to find out that I have a hot husband. (Often people tell me he should try modeling, which is totally laughable given his personality.) Friends always ask if he has ever said anything to me about my weight, and are shocked when I report that he hasn’t. I think part of this is because their own husbands, in my opinion not as hot as my own btw, tease them about the extra 10-20 pounds they’ve gained, and “request” boob jobs after children (so they tell me). All I can think to tell them is that sometimes it pays to be smart, feminist, and have a good personality – I’m worth putting up with the extra weight (don’t women do this with fat husbands?) and I’ve never put up with men I’ve dated treating me,or other women, as objects whose purpose was to be visually appealing. My husband is as romantic now as when I was a size 2, maybe even more. Or, maybe I just got incredibly lucky given who disgusting I am now – that’s what my t.v. tells me anyway. ;)

  16. Anonymous says

    Casey,

    I decided to watch Monsoon Wedding because of all these comments. Not only is the main character not fat, she isn’t even slightly overweight. The fact that so many people here even think that she was shows how messed up we are as a society and what “fat” is. I’m fat, and telling me that that lady is fat is just insulting to me. She was perfect, not overweight.

    • Maria says

      @Anonymous and Casey

      Remember that Gabriel used the phrase “fat by Hollywood standards” and Jia used quotes, both indicating that in the context of a media where women are expected to take up ZERO space, seeing someone who’s not super super skinny and where that’s not a plot-point is surprising.

  17. Casey says

    Maria,

    Yeah, I read that comment and I guess (at the time) when I watched the movie my mind wasn’t fucked-over enough by Hollywood standards so I just thought the main character was average sized and that’s it (I’ll have to see it again and re-analyze it maybe).

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