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.