This post is in two parts because the topic is that large. I thought there was one angle I wanted to discuss, but recent events make me realize there’s much, much more that I need to purge. So, grab a cookie and some cocoa, pretzels and a beer or an apple and a smoothie, sit back and enjoy.
That’s right. I said eat a cookie. Eat some freaking carbs if you want to. Or, fine, eat a damn apple if it makes you feel better, just SHUT UP & EAT! Feed your body, love your body, feed your soul, nourish yourself and keep it to yourself. Oh, and quit telling me what I should eat. That’s none of your damn business.
Do I seem angry? I am. I’m sick to death of women’s bodies getting picked apart everywhere. I’m sick of all the “shaming” catchphrases. “Slut shaming,” “fat shaming,” “body shaming,” on and on and on. When, oh, when, will women -and the way they are represented in media and entertainment- be regarded for their intelligence, talent, humor, abilities, attributes and accomplishments rather than just their f’ing appearance?
It has to start with us. We have to see ourselves as complete and worthwhile no matter how many wrinkles we have, the color of our hair or eyes or what jeans size we wear. The more we can love and respect ourselves, the more love and respect we will receive. I know too many talented actresses who obsess and lament over their weight and appearance in an endless cycle of self-deprivation and self-abuse. The fear of fatness is so pervasive that even when a heroine emerges that can show us something we’ve never seen before, people are still terrified of accepting her – even the fatties.
My immediate anger comes on the heels of a recent op-ed piece published on dame.com and reposted on salon.com that has the audacity to say Melissa McCarthy has sold out fat women. I call foul. The author herself describes a lifelong history of ridicule and abuse because she is overweight. I understand her pain. I am fat. I’m currently a size 18-20. People, often complete strangers, feel no shame at blatantly pointing out or mocking my fatness. Here are a few real life stories that have happened to me.
1. The only time I ever attempted to go to a trendy Hollywood nightclub, I was rejected at the door. Being held back at the rope, I watched several skinny, scantily clad blondes get let right in, but not me and my also brunette friend (who I think is pretty darn hot but was probably a size 6 or 8 at the time, not a 2 or 0 like the gals getting in). We left. My friend was furious, but to be honest, I was a little relieved. I knew it wasn’t my scene.
2. When I worked as a barista trainer, I was at a grocery store buying milk for that day of training new employees to make cappuccinos. As I’m loading 6 gallons of whole milk (and nothing else) into my cart, a little old Asian lady tut-tuts and shakes her head. She then points to the skim milk. “You should drink that. Too much here,” and pats her tiny belly looking at my larger one. “Not good, not good.” Did she think I was just going to go home and down all 6 gallons in one sitting? And who the f’ asked for her damn opinion anyway?
3. I was standing on a crowded bus holding on to an overhead strap when an older Middle-Eastern gentleman offered me his seat. I declined saying, “I like to stand sometimes.” He replied, “You like to eat all the time. Hahaha!” He thought this was so funny, he repeated it to the person sitting next to him, “She really likes to eat! Really!” This was hilarious to him. I don’t think he even meant to be malicious, he just thought he was making a joke and that I should laugh with him. He’s right though. I do like to eat. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t enjoy food. Food is life.
4. Just last week, walking up to a bus stop, an elderly woman who was clearly mentally ill and probably homeless sees me approaching and launches into a monologue. “Oh, look at this one! It looks like an easter egg! Hey, Humpty Dumpty, how’d you get so fat?” She kept going and kept going with more of the same. I did my best to ignore her until my bus came, thankfully within a few minutes.
Even though I understand that there is no reason to take any of these incidents personally, particularly when dealing with someone who is unwell, they stuck with me because they did hurt. People from all cultural backgrounds, walks of life and age ranges (although from these examples it seems those over 60 especially have no social filter) feel complete carte blanche to attack, criticize or judge others for their weight. This is one form of discrimination that is still completely socially acceptable.
It’s true that fat people are far too often the big butt of the joke in film and on TV. In my personal experience as an actress, I have come across this many, many times. I have turned down more than one audition or role offer because the entire joke of the script was basically, “Ooh gross, a fat woman having sex!” or “Haha, hot guy and fat girl. Yuck.” More painfully, these projects even expected the actress who did take the role to work for free! No thank you.
I am sensitive to this kind of fat ridicule, but I am not so sensitive that I see it where it does not exist as the author of the above-mentioned “Melissa McCarthy is a Sell-Out” article does. She claims that McCarthy is a body-acceptance advocate in real life, but not in her films. I fat out disagree. (Not a typo.)