This essay will analyse the media portrayals of overweight characters in twentieth and Twenty First century films. Throughout the essay, I will examine the concept of ‘Fatsploitation’, in this context meaning the use of overweight characters in Hollywood films as comic relief as well as looking at societal attitudes towards ‘fatness’ as a whole.
Introduction: But she has a great personality…
You’re fat. You don’t dress well. You can’t be happy looking like that. In an age where western television is saturated by makeover shows, these are just some of the comments levelled at what are considered ‘unruly bodies’ (Stukator, 2001). The idea of transformation has permeated every facet of modern media in the Western world (Steinhoff, 2015). This is not a modern-day phenomenon, however. Throughout time, women have been made to change their bodies to suit certain societal ideals. According to Koggel (2006), ‘in the sixteenth century, European women bound themselves into corsets made of whalebone and hardened canvas’ and ‘in the Seventeenth century, the waist was still laced, but breasts were once again stylish, and fashions were designed to enhance them’. These ideals were imposed onto women by a patriarchal society that wanted women’s bodies to appeal to men in a time where women’s rights were already limited. Koggel continues:
‘tight corsets came back into vogue in Europe and North America in the mid-nineteenth century…the tight lacing often led to pulmonary disease and internal organ damage...in the 1920s, the ideal had slender legs and hips, small breasts, and bobbed hair… in the 1940s and 1950s, the ideal returned to the hourglass shape…in the 1960s, the ideal had a youthful, thin, lean body… in the 1970s a thin, tan sensuous look was “in”. The 1980s beauty ideal remained slim but required a more muscular, tones and physically fit body(Koggel, 2006).
The fact that women have had to physically change their bodies to suit male needs is what has led women to continuously criticise their bodies. No thought was given to different body shapes, women simply had to conform to this one size fits all ideal. Through the media, the modern version of the corset and girdle is established (Calegro, 2005). Magazines, advertisements, social media, films and TV are continually enforcing body ideals onto their audiences (Kline, 2006). This seeming inability to accept our bodies for what they are, and instead undertake these painful physical restrictions and modifications could be what has led us towards modern day fatphobia and fatsploitation. By these terms, we mean the negative discourse towards fat bodies, and their lack of acceptance, and fatspolitation meaning the use of fat bodies in media as a site of ridicule.
Studies have shown that the media contains gender, age and racial stereotypes and that the more these stereotypes are shown in the media, the more they are naturalised into our way of thinking and come to be accepted as dominant thought (Ross,2019). The use of stereotypes is not new, and sociologist Stuart Hall has studied the use of them in depth and found that:
‘people who are in any way different from the majority – ‘them’ rather than ‘us’ – are frequently exposed to [a] binary form of representation. They seem to be represented through sharply opposed, polarized, binary extremes – good/bad, civilized/primitive, ugly/excessively attractive, repelling-because different/compelling because strange and exotic. And they are often required to be both things at the same time! (Hall, 1997).
Stereotypes are not the only way in which society forces dominant ideaologies towards fatness onto audiences, but also with stigma (losing one’s individual identity and being grouped within a stereotype). Link and Phelan (2001),  divided stigma into five converging components, firstly it is used to ‘distinguish and label human differences’. Secondly, ‘dominant cultural beliefs link labelled persons to undesirable characteristics- to negative stereotypes’. Thirdly, ‘labelled persons are placed into distinct categories so as to… [separate] “us” and “them”. Fourthly, ‘labelled persons experience status loss and discrimination that lead to unequal outcomes’ and finally, ‘stigmatisation is entirely contingent on access to social, economic, and political power’. By labelling people as ‘fat’ we are disassociating them from a public collective, they have now been signalled out as belonging to one societal group, an overweight and unhealthy one. Then, because they have been labelled fat, stereotypes start to form and become used in day to day life. Fat people then are the binary opposites to thin people, they are targeted in different ways through the media, being advertised weight loss initiatives for example. Due to the stigma that has then been attached to fat people and their fatness, they experience discrimination in their lives.
Studies have shown that overweight people are more like to struggle to find employment, achieve promotions and in some cases are paid less for the work they do (Rothblum, 1990: 251). The concept of ‘us’ and ‘them’ will play a key role in this essay in order to determine why fat phobia still exists and not only exists, but has become prevalent across media platforms, and specifically in film.
Despite social changes towards the use of stereotypes for all other categories, fat bias is still used in films today. Perhaps it is because fatness is not seen as an identity, you are not born fat, your fat is not part of your western culture, and so your fat is a lifestyle choice that can be questioned and vilified. It seems that fatness is the last remaining prejudice that is social acceptable and this bias and overt prejudice is widespread (Gapinski et al). This is why fat actors are still used for comedic effect, it is unusual for an overweight actor or actress to not have lines in the film that reference their fatness or ridicule their fatness. Additionally, their characters tend to be underdeveloped, and they use typical fat tropes, like burping, eating and dancing; the dancing in particular draws attention to their fat and the movement of their overweight body (Pistone, 2015). The fat character is not there to be the focus point of the narrative, but instead there for comedic effect, to support the main character, but not to command positive attention. They are the buffoon, the joker, the court jester. Typically, the main character will also make fun of their large scene partner, picking at their faults and prodding at their flaws (Hole, 2003). There is a long running joke that if a woman is defined by her ‘bubbly personality’ it can be assumed that this person is overweight. If a female figure cannot be described positively or idealistically in that, it is slim, athletic etc, then the description of this person must be focused on her personality, seeing as her body is not worthy of attention. The fat body has been seen as defiant of societal norms since the 19th century, and in two hundred years, there has been little progress (Friend:2006, 43).
Chapter 2: Female bodies and the ‘ideal’ woman: A very brief history
Now her body is in my mirror
her big old body
the naked weight, solid
its roots in dark magic
come from the mud
come from the long past
- The body of a goddess, Judith Arcana (1993:113)
The current feeling towards fatness has not always existed. In times where women were viewed as fertile vessels, the sculptures of them highlight their curves and undulations. As early as the Palaeolithic period, man had a fascination with the female form and what it meant to be a woman and The Venus of Willendorf figurine is one of the oldest sculptures discovered to date. The high number of female figurines found from this period in comparison to male figurines suggests a sort of ‘preoccupation with women, whose child-bearing capabilities ensured the survival of the species’ (Kleiner, 2008).
This term ‘preoccupation’ is essential into understanding the way in which women are viewed and disassembled in order to ascertain if they are ‘correct’. Are they fertile? Do they portray the accepted image of a woman? And if not, why not? The voluptuous breasts of the Venus that hang low over the rotund stomach are in stark contrast to what we see as the ‘ideal’ body type in the media today (Phelan, 2002). The current ‘trend’ for female bodies is to be slim and toned (Bordo, 2003), whilst at the same time evoking their sexuality through large bottoms and fuller thighs, a figure credited to Kim Kardashian (Sastre. 2014). The Venus figurines were thought to show female fertility and erotic desires (Bonafini and Pozzilli, 2011) and their fatness contradicts the modern standard for ideal beauty.
There is some debate as to whether these figurines were an exaggerated ideal (Dixson, 2011) or whether they truly mimic what the civilisations at the time found attractive, but nevertheless these figurines do not reflect any westernised ideal that exists today. In modern society we are seeing a shift towards a new ideal, a body type that most cannot achieve without the interference of cosmetic surgery is being fed into the minds of young observers and ‘reinforces an unachievable thin ideal’ (Brown, 2016). Furthermore, women are now requesting specific body parts that they desire from celebrities, using social media as a type of marketplace for selecting the features they wish to replicate (ibid.).
By the turn of the 20th century, there was a definite movement in western cultures towards the ideal body being slender and ‘athletic’, particularly after the create of the Miss America Pageant in 1921. This pageant provided a way to show American society what the new body ideals were, and they catergorically-excluded fatness. Typically, the contestants were short, around five foot, with small waists and a weight of around one hundred pounds. In a world where we are still transfixed by having the ideal body, it should come as no surprise that after several decades, these body ideals have not changed much, other than modern contestant’s height has increased, but their waist size has decreased. (Stearns,2002).
This same body idealism can also be seen in Hollywood, from transformation of the classic voluptuous hourglass figures of Mae West and Marylin Monroe, (Chrisler, 2012) , to the slim and slender women we now see in films, on television and in other media (Bordo, 1990)’. Judy Garland, one of the most famous actress of the studio era, was forced to diet to such extremes that the head of MGM only allowed he to eat chicken soup, the only other additions to this being black coffee and 80 cigarettes a day’(Malone, 2015) .
Similarly in 1924, Viola Dana reported that ‘any actress of course is obliged to watch her diet, day by day in every way’ (Addison,2003) . This hyperawareness of female bodies, and the fear shown towards fatness has only continued, and yet is never quite applied to male actors in the same way. In contrast to the portrayal of fat women, fat men were considered in far more favourable ways. Fat men were sometimes seen as a window into our pasts of being chubby children, and would thus elicit reactions of delight and nostalgia (Ulaby,2001). Women were supposed to show discipline and control when it came to their figures, but overweight men were seen as enjoying themselves and were allowed to give into their dietry desires.
There are very limited examples of fat women in films, but Jet Magazine (1952) explored the success of African American women in using their fatness to their advantage. Comedic stage actresses in particular found their fatness to be an asset. In an article titled ‘Fat Women get More Breaks in Movies’, a New York producer revealed that ‘we reduce our headaches from the South when we give ‘em the types of Negro women they want to see’. The black women of cinema at the time had two key roles to play, firstly the ‘mammy’ figure, a large black woman who worked in the home of her white bosses and looked after the children (Farrell, 2011).
The second role was a reaction to the otherness of the black body, the role of the jezebel. The jezebel was over-sexed and unruly, she was seen as a direct opponent to the civilised white body. The sexualisation and fetishization of the black female body can be dated back to Sarah Baartmen, a Khosian woman who was displayed in England in the early 19th century. Because of her ‘otherness’, ‘her breasts, buttocks and hypertrophied labia aroused considerable interest’ (Qureshi, 2004). Her body was exposed and judged by Western society, who observed her in the same way they would observe other freak show-esque performers. Her body did not conform to the westernised ideals of slimness, and her body shape had no place in society; ‘in the western mind, these hips marked the boundary between self and racialized ‘other’; they also demanded correction’ (McKoy, 2011).
In America, blackness and fatness when thought of in terms of the female body share a complex relationship in that they are seen as non-desirable to some extent, and so must undergo changes in order to appeal to western aesthetic standards (Shaw, 2006). There seems to be a clear divide between showing overweight black bodies, and overweight white bodies. A different type of stigma seems to exist for the overweight white body; whilst it is still reviled as ‘other’ and grotesque it is somehow seen as more unnatural and perverse as it has no place in western culture where beauty ideals have evolved to equate to slenderness. It appears as though there is a total embargo on any white actress appearing on screen that exhibits the figure of the average American woman, where ‘two out of three adult Americans are overweight—roughly 60 million people—, and one out of three Americans is obese, defined as being more than 30% on the BMI’ (Olsen, 2006).
Why then are Hollywood produces so averse to portray real American fatness on the screen, or more specifically, portray it rather than ridicule it? The strict guidelines on what constitutes an ideal figure in Hollywood is what promotes fatness as ‘otherness. Being fat does not fit into the ideals that now saturate our media and it invokes a sense of repulsion as it is seen as an undisciplined way of being. In contrast, slimness is seen as being disciplined, healthy and beautiful (Saguy and Ward, 2011).
Chapter 1: Being Shallow
One of the ways Hollywood has combated not allowing fat white female actors to be represented in the same magnitude as their slimmer counterparts is through the use of the fat suit, or as some label it, fat drag. The use of these fat suits and the characterisation of fat people has even been compared to blackface due to its usual ill-meaning intent (Campos, 2004). Notable examples of the use of fat suits can be seen in: Mrs Doubtfire (1993), The Nutty Professor (1996), Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged me (1999), Big Momma’s House (2000), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Shallow Hal (2001), and Just Friends (2005).
These films achieved box office success with a combined lifetime gross of just under $1 billion and only one of these examples has a woman wearing a fat suit whilst portraying a fat woman. Perhaps having a fat woman on screen, whether she is genuinely fat, or indulging in fat performativity, is just too much, too grotesque and too easily judged. When watching Gwyneth Paltrow portray the morbidly obese Rosemary in Shallow Hal, the audience can participate in the jokes at her expense, because underneath the suit we know that the real, slim, Paltrow exists (Fox-Kales, 2011). The audience cannot be repulsed by her appearance because it is not real, the audience is safe in the knowledge that underneath her fatness, lies a true, healthy American that conforms to the idealistic standards of beauty. Paltrow described her experiences as a ‘fat person’ in an article for The Guardian, where she stated that wearing the suit, ‘was unbelievable… people don't make eye contact… like when you see someone come in who's missing a limb, and you think, 'I'm not going to look, because then they'll think that I'm looking at their abnormality, but to the person who has that abnormality, it feels so totally isolating and horrible’.
There could be a certain amount of umbridge taken with this statement given that firstly, she compares fatness to abnormality, which further emphasises the concept of fatnesss as ‘otherness’. Secondly, given that Paltrow is a celebrity known for her slimness, and her running of lifestyle and health company Goop she is qualifying her experience of a one-day event, to a lifetime of abuse aimed at real fat people.
In this section we will focus on Shallow Hal, primarily because it is one of the only examples of white female fatness portrayed through the use of fats suits. Hal Larson (Jack Black) is a man ruled by his male gaze. He can only appreciate physical beauty, despite the double standard of his own overweight size. Upon meeting Tony Robbins (playing himself), Robbins is left aghast at the shallowness of Hal, and his fixation with physical ideals. Through the use of ‘magic’ he forces Hal to see inner beauty, whereby fat people become slim, and slim people become mean and ugly.
The audience first becomes aware of Rosemary’s true size when we see her shopping for underwear. We see Rosemary from behind, her large thighs and thick waist highlighted through the use of ill-fitting clothes. Furthermore as Rosemary is underwear shopping, we are shown the thin Rosemary holding comically large knickers. Comical because how could such a slim person possibly need underwear that large? Hal himself seems confused and ask her if she is ‘building a parachute’. Hal’s confusion is further exemplified when everyone else describes Rosemary in terms that he does not associate with her. Her father for example, says that he has not been able to bounce his daughter on his knee since she was two, and yet the camera pans round to a slim Rosemary, bending over the kitchen counter highlighting her toned legs and slender waist.
The problem with Shallow Hal is that Rosemary’s inner beauty is shown through the idealistic slimness of Paltrow. Her beauty of character can only be presented to the audience through a type of beauty they know to signify attractiveness; slimness. Hal’s behaviour can be linked to the misogynistic views of his father, when he says ‘find yourself a classic beauty, with a perfect can and great totties…hot young tails’s what it’s all about’. #his father has here reinforced the patriarchal standards of beauty and firmly positioned women to be looked at, and that their value only comes from beauty and bdy ideals, not personality. Hal is following the approach of gender performativity within beauty, and by extension, he excludes fatness from any potential female love interest, because it does not conform to perceived ideals.
The use of fat suits lends itself to the feminist reading of film in that the female body on screen has oft been noted for its lack of female ownership. Laura Mulvey, in her essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) examined the role of women in film. Mulvey proposed that the sexual imbalance of society has separated the audience into two halves, the active male and the passive female. The female’s appearance is used for erotic impact, she is only there to be looked at by the hungry male eye, to be dissected and judged for visual pleasure.
It seems then that the female on screen needs to represent the ‘idealistic’ female body, the one that society has judged to be correct and desirable. When Rosemary is undressing herself before sleeping with Hal, the hungry male eye is able to cast its glance over Paltrow’s toned and tanned body. The only reference to Rosemary’s other self is when she throws her underwear at Hal and once again, this parachute sized underwear confuses him, but does not dissuade him from having sex with her, because he is still seeing is ‘perfect’ Rosemary.
Mulvey’s take on the male gaze helps to understand the reasoning behind why the fat female body is so rarely seen in Hollywood, or that when it is, it is ridiculed, emphasised and condemned due to its ‘otherness’ (Mobley,2014). When the fat female body does appear on screen, she is exploited and seen as ‘unruly’ because she cannot conform to idealistic beauty standards and thus she does not evoke a sense of lust from the male eye, in effect making her presence on screen redundant (Stukator, 2001). Stokes (2013) elaborates on the troublesome authority that the male gaze has over unconventional female bodies, explaining that “the excess of fat on the female body disturbs not only ideal female beauty standards but also the identity of the masculine-oriented gaze. Her excess signifies both the inability for the body to be determined by the self as well as the impossibility of self-determinacy”. The link between fatness and sexuality can also be seen as being stifled, particularly white women’s sexuality. The depiction of women as objects of male desire seeks to supress females own sexual desires, and therefore reinforces the sexual double standard of women being sexual, but only when the male demands it, it has to be on male terms ( Weitz, 2015).
‘In addition to the way overweight individuals are portrayed in the media, of similar importance is the way that they are precluded from the media. The absence of representation, or underrepresentation, of some group of people in the media constitutes "symbolic annihilation.”
‘positive correlations between dissatisfaction with one’s own weight and the belief that overweight persons are worthless, incompetent and blameworthy’ (Gapinski, )
"to make the very idea of being fat—and especially the idea of famous, fashionably thin people being fat—a subject of farce" (Campos, 2004, 83).
How can we love ourselves if nobody loves us first?
Chapter 3: Fat Amy and being a ‘rebel’
One overweight, white, female actor who seems to have had success ‘in spite of’ her fatness is Rebel Wilson. In 2012, Jason Moore made his film directorial debut with Pitch Perfect. Pitch Perfect follows Beca (Anna Kendrick), a newly enrolled college student who is trying to make it into the music industry. Beca soon find herself signing up for the acapella group, Bardon Bellas, led by Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow). It is at this activity fair that the audience first meets Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Fat Amy is presented as a typical college girl, with her face naturally made up, with glossy lips, a flawless complexion and with coiffed blonde hair. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about her, and her loosely fitting t-shirt suggests that she doesn’t take herself too seriously, she looks comfortable and happy in her own skin. Fat Amy (the audience doesn’t know her name at this point) is asked whether she can match pitch and after successfully matching several notes, she comically holds her last note for a long time whilst gently caressing her body. Aubrey seems slightly put off by her, she frequently raises her eyebrows and opens her mouth, in either amazement or pure confusion by this ‘larger than life’ character. Fat Amy tells the girls that, ‘I’m the best singer in Tasmania, with teeth’.
Already the audience can tell that this character will be fairly comical, she seems socially awkward and not quite in tune with the lady-like, overtly feminine appearances of the other girls. When Chloe finally asks the character’s name, we are informed flatly that her name is Fat Amy. Aubrey seems somewhat shocked by this and follows up with, ‘um…you call yourself Fat Amy?’. Here we must make a key observation and take ourselves out of the narrative, because no, she did not decide to call herself Fat Amy, the director did. If we didn’t already know that Fat Amy was going to be a comedic character, we certainly do now. Fat Amy retorts that she calls herself Fat Amy so that ‘twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back’. This scene is somewhat paradoxical considering we have a character here who seems to be making a huge statement by calling herself a name that clearly defines who she is, and takes control of her own nickname in order to avoid being judged by societies standards of beauty and a ‘normal body’ and yet she subjects the other characters to this same snide ritual by calling them ‘twig bitches’.
It could be argued that by taking control of her name, Fat Amy is transformative in that the audience may sit and consider that yes, this kind of name-calling and fat shaming does in fact exist in our society. However, it could also fuel this behaviour. Fat Amy suggests that there is nothing else noteworthy about her other than the fact she is fat. It draws attention to her body and creates this ‘thing’ rather than ignoring it because it really isn’t important. Should this character be defined by her weight? Especially when the film’s actual focus is on singing talent. There are no outward communications towards Fat Amy that they are repulsed by her or unwilling for her to join their group, perhaps it is the audience that should be judged on their presumption that these two, slim ‘attractive’ females may not accept Fat Amy, and yet, they do. The audience could be forgiven for this however considering the multitude of films in existence which do not usually accept this ‘other’ form of being, one that does not fit the typical expectations of what beautiful is. Furthermore it is unusual for an audience to see a fat woman who loves herself. As George Ade so succinctly puts it ‘the statement that nobody loves a fat man has been weakly contradicted but just not it seems generally agreed that no fat woman loves herself (Ade, 1922).
Further on in the film Fat Amy walks up to the male lead of the rival acapella group, Bumper (ACTOR NAME). Upon seeing her, Bumper exclaims ‘you are probably the grossest human being I have ever seen’. In eleven words, this character seems to shatter any kind of security that the audience has in the fact that Fat Amy is a respected character. Fat Amy is not conveying any type of behaviour that could be considered ‘gross’ and yet within seconds of meeting her, he levels this statement at her. We must assume then that he is referring to her weight. In true Fat Amy style, she retorts that ‘you’re no panty-dropper yourself’ whilst her facial expression conveys a slight sense of hurt, but more predominantly, confusion. The atmosphere then completely changes again when Bumper suggests that he ‘[has] a feeling that we should kiss’. Gaslighting, which is to manipulate someone into doubting themselves, or their perception of something, is used here to confuse Fat Amy as to whether this character is genuinely deplorable, or only joking that she is ‘gross’ and therefore makes his previous comment perfectly ok, because now he has decided he wants to kiss her.
In addition, at the start of this scene, Bumper pushes his friend away so that he can talk to Fat Amy alone, we could assume that Bumper feels somewhat ashamed of his fledgling attraction Fat Amy. Should he like a ‘fat’ girl? Or should he conform to the traditional Hollywood narrative of the female love interest being slim and ‘beautiful?’. In a study of the portrayal of fatness in film, it was found that below average weight female characters received significantly more positive verbal comments from male characters with regards to body weight and shape than their heavier counterparts. Dieting female characters gave themselves significantly more verbal punishment for their body weight and shape than those less involved in dieting. This combination of modelling the thin ideal and the verbal reinforcement associated with this modelling likely contributes to the internalisation of the thin ideal and may put some young female viewers at risk for developing eating disorders (Fouts, 1999).
Despite Amy being hailed as a hero for loving her fatness, the writers still include negative comments about her body, further reinforcing the stereotypes that Stuart Hall mentions. By constantly adding in these negative and prejudicial lines about the unruly and fat female body, these stereotypical portrayals are still not being contested because they have now once again entered the audiences way of thinking. Thus leading to their alignment with societal ideas that perpetuate fatness as ‘bad’ or undesirable.
i. The ‘other’ problem with Fat Amy
Another problem with Pitch Perfect and its representation of otherness, is the portrayal of fellow Barton Bella, Cynthia Rose. Cynthia Rose is presented as a butch lesbian, whereby she rejects typical feminine styles of dress and instead presents herself using traditional ‘male’ garments (Smith, 2010). Cynthia Rose wears a cap covering her face, and bright pink hair, shielding her identity from both the acapella audience, and the audience at home, leading to a gender ambiguity. Her baggy clothes and masculine walk further seek to both confuse and intrigue, and invite the audience to make an assumption of her gender based on these outward choices. Her masculinity is seen as a threat, particularly to the male acapella group, who automatically greet her with ‘whenever you’re ready dude’ (Fenwick,2011).
The males in the audience appear confused and somewhat disturbed by the revelation that she is in fact a woman, and by extension a fat woman who portrays an outwardly masculine appearance. One character falters and remarks, ‘huh, it’s not a dude. Not a dude’. This character is unable to relate what he thinks of as idealistic feminine beauty, to what Cynthia Rose represents. In his mind, the lack of slimness and what he perceives to be as attractiveness is not revealed in Cynthia, and so therefore she is a threat to these pre-conceived notions.
Not only is Cynthia Rose viewed as queer due to her gender performativity, but also her size is equally not feminine. It is interesting that throughout the film, Fat Amy, Cynthia’s overweight ‘comrade’ is the one who becomes increasingly distasteful in her means to ‘out’ Cynthia. Studies show that although ‘fat people may not endorse anti-fat attitudes to the same extent as their lower weight counterparts, they often think of other fat people in these terms (Friend, 2006).
This is no doubt due to the incessant use of anti-fat rhetoric in the media, and Fat Amy herself in terms of the filmic world would probably have come across the diatribe of fatness as otherness. It is interesting however to have such a paradoxical representation of fatness within a single film. White fatness is equated to acceptable in Pitch Perfect, or more specifically not as grotesque as black fatness. Fat Amy’s confusion towards Cynthia Rose is not condisive however into changing societal vewis of fatness, because she is reinforcing the unruliness of it. Fat Amy suggests to Aubrey that one of the Barden Bellas must be a lesbian, and identifies Cynthia, or as she is referred to here, ‘Black Beauty’ as the culprit. Fat Amy views Cynthia as ‘queer’, meaning that she finds her unusual, unable to categorise her in the same way that she has self-categorised. Wykes (2016) touches on this subject by asking ‘is fat queer?
The specious stereotype of the fat lesbian who ‘turns to women because she’s ‘too ugly to get a man’ suggest it may be’. If Cynthia had been played by a slim actress, the supposed comedy of the repeated references would be lost because she would not look like an ‘obvious’ lesbian. Her masculine persona is what defines her as ‘other’ as well as her fatness.
The following dialogue highlights the need for people to define and categorise others, to make them fit into their pre-determined state of being. As mentioned previously, Fat Amy makes it her mission to get Cynthia Rose to admit that she is a lesbian:
Cynthia Rose: This is hard for me to admit to you guys.
Fat Amy: I think we all know where this is going... Lesbihonest.
Cynthia Rose: Well, for the last two years I've had a serious gambling problem.
Fat Amy: What?!
Cynthia Rose: It started when I broke up with my girlfriend.
Fat Amy: Whoops! There it is...!
At no point does Fat Amy seem supportive of Cynthia, she is just simply congratulating herself that her initial judgements on this woman were correct. It is this idea of using fatness for comedy that is the most troubling. Rebel Wilson herself revealed in an interview with The Telegraph that she purposely gained weight in order to be considered ‘funnier’. She told The Telegraph that "how can I get more laughs? Maybe if I was a bit fatter..." And then suddenly I was fatter, and doing comedy.'(2016). Before Pitch Perfect, Wilson had previously capitalised on her fatness by portraying Brynn in Bridesmaids (2011). In one scene, Brynn gets a Mexican drinking worm tattooed onto her stomach and back, the fatness of the worm and the fatness of Brynn is assumed no coincidence here. Brynn lifts up her top, revealing Wilson’s stomach and the top of her bottom hanging over her ill-fitting jeans. She is putting her fat on display. Why? Cynically, to get more laughs from the audience. We are laughing not only at the absurdity of her tattoo but also the absurdity of her body.
Chapter 4: Looking forward: "We're here, we're spheres! Get used to it!"- (Wann,1999)
In an ideal scenario, fat acceptance will happen overnight and Hollywood movies will suddenly hire fat actors and actresses for every film. Back on earth however, what will likely happen is that the fat acceptance movement will slowly make producers and casting directors understand that people want to see themselves represented on screen. If the average size of the American woman is a 16, then films should be inclusive and hire actresses that fulfil this.
In 2012, Tess Holliday, a successful plus sized model founded the Instagram account @effyourbeautystandards. Tess created this account and the following campaign in order to highlight the gross differences between actual reality, and social media reality. She argued that nobody should be telling women what is and is not attractive, and through this she implored people to love themselves, not matter their shape or size (Horta, 2016). For the most part, her campaign has been successful. She has amassed 1.9 million Instagram followers and is regularly booked for magazine shoots, she also recently released her own book titled ‘The Not So Subtle Art Of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You're In’. In 2018, Holliday featured on the cover of UK magazine in a green bikini, whilst blowing a kiss to the audience. Holliday was taking back control of her body and further emphasising the need for fat acceptance
Of course, many people criticised the cover (Koslowski, 2018), particularly Peirs Morgan, whilst writing for the Daily Mail. Morgan, in an open letter to Hollidaystated that ‘The bottom line is that there’s nothing remotely powerful or inspiring about a 5ft 3in person breaking the scales at 300lbs.It’s just a guaranteed pathway to sickness, misery and possible death. So I urge you to stop pretending your body is radiating some great ‘positive image’ to the world. It’s not’ . Had Holliday stated on the front of the cover ‘be like me, it’s healthy’, then of course a lot of the criticism would be understandable, this thesis is not proposing that fatness equals healthiness, it is considering how excluded fat people are from society and entertainment media. Goodman also considered the conflicted nature of fatness when she pondered that, at first sight, seeing an unretouched photo or a fat girl in a magazine, your first response is ‘gross’, because we just are not used to seeing it, and we’ve been conditioned to not accept is as an ‘ideal’. Yet after contemplation, we are resolved to the fact that actually, this body is normal (Goodman, 2002). Whether or not it is someone’s ideal, who can say? That is an individual response. But should we prejudice towards that body, or mock it, or exclude it because perhaps we don’t like it? Then, no. As Holliday herself says, ‘Everyone deserves to see themselves in the media’ ( 2017)
Social Media, in which we will consider the impact of later, is also playing a large role in the critical views towards feminine bodies. Recent studies indicate that current diet, exercise, and beauty trends displayed in reality TV shows and social media outlets can contribute to unhealthy adolescent body pereceptions (Voelker, 2015, 150)
I. No one wants to see curvy women,"- Karl Lagerfield
In the last few years, there have been several examples of films featuring larger actresses. I feel pretty (2018), Ghostbusters (2018), Patti Cake$ (2017), Spy (2015) , Life of the Party (2018), Dumplin’ (2018) and Isn’t it Romantic (2019). 2018’s Dumplin’, features Willowdean “Dumplin’” Dixon (Danielle Macdonald) and her mother, Rosie Dixon (Jennifer Aniston), a pageant winner. The film follows Willowdean’s plan to gain her mother’s acceptance, despite the fact she does not conform to the idealistic beauty standards of the pageant world, and thus her own mother’s expectations. At the start of the film there are several fatphobic statements levelled towards Willowdean, including ‘you are honestly a pig’ and ‘whale watch!’. Rather than let these statements bother her, Willowdean just ignores the comments, or in one instance, kicks one of the high school bully’s in the crotch in orer to teach him some human decency. From the outset we are introduced to a possible love interest for Willowdean, her colleague, Bo. Bo does not fetishize Willowdean, nor does he comment on her body, the audience can detect his feelings through subtle glances and ocassional skin brushes. He observes her body, but only in a lustful way.
‘fat comes in diverse bodies and personalities that go beyond the old tropes of sidekick, joke, or villain’ (Shelton, 2019).
Her beauty pageant winner mother however is obsessed with weight and size. No doubt through the culture maintained through beauty pageants. Her fridge contains nothing but a bowl of salad and some condiments, or as Willowdean describes it, rabbit food. Her mothers motivations lie in fitting into tight, restrictive pageant outfits, in one instance her dress is so restrictive, she has to lay down flat in the back of her car. Rosie is problematic from the start, she seems unable to understand why her sister and her own daughter who has always been surrounded by pageantry, would choose to have a body that simply isn’t acceptable in her world. She makes ill informed comments about Willowdean, suggesting that her recent break out is not die to typical teenage hormones, but by eating greasy food, despite the fact Willowdean does not like hotdogs or burgers. Similarly at a pageant event that Rosie is announcing the winner of, her fellow pageant winner is shocked to discover that her daughter is so large, at first mistaken Willowdean’s slimmer friend as her daughter and finally exclaiming ‘wow. Ok’.
In this scenario, you would hope that Rosie would step in and defend her daughter, perhaps tell her friend that she loves her daughter whether she’s big, small, fat or thin, but she cannot do it, because for her, it does not seem to be true. Willowdean’s story is one of fat acceptance, she does not go through the film changed by her mother’s wishes and starts to diet, in fact there is never a suggestion that Willowdean is unhappy with herself at all, she is simply unhappy about how others see her body, and why they think they have the right to force their own ideals onto her. The tile of the film Dumplin’ is so called because this is the nickname Rosie has bestowed on her daughter. Not content with commenting on her daughter’s weight frequently, she has to further humiliate her through the hurtful moniker, despite Willowdean’s protestations. When Willowdean confronts her mother and tells her that she knows she hates the fact her own daughter looks the way she does, she tells her that she just wants her to have opportunities, and that it is harder for ‘big girls’.
As discussed previously, statistics show that this is true, but this cannot be combated unless we start to change the narrative, both through fictional media and the real world. Adrienne Rich believes there is not a single woman ‘for whom her body is not a fundamental problem. Not necessarily that she finds it a problem herself, but that other may have a problem with their body.
In 2015, Protein World UK released an advertisement that asked the public ‘Are you beach body ready?’. Due to backlash, the Advertising Standards Authority subsequently banned the advert and launched a social responsibility probe. The advert was believed by some, to be an archetypal sexist image, capitalising on supposed feminine constructs that seek to drive us as consumers to buy their weight loss products so that we can fit into the socially acceptable ‘ideal’ (Chochinov, 2015)  .
The fight against this advert was fuelled by the realisation that yet another brand had created a sexist and fat shaming advert whose sole purpose was to make women feel bad about themselves (Zeilenger, 2015) . Perhaps the writers of Dumplin’ were aware of this controversy when they wrote in the swimsuit scene for the pageant. The swimsuit round of pageantry is a long held tradition, it featured in the first ever Miss America pageant in 1921, and was only removed as recently as 2018 ( Slapak, 2019). As Willowdean and Ellie take the stage their swimsuits are emblazoned with ‘Every body is a swimsuit body’. This comment is aimed not just at the southern audience of the pageant, but real world society as well. It’s a clear message for brands, and for people in general that a swimsuit body is a body with a swimsuit on it, as Willowdean had said earlier in the film. This film is determined to confront the ideals and expectations that women, and men are constantly criticised for not following, one of Willowdeans’ confidants is a black American drag queen who pushes her to continue in the pageant.
Willowdean’s love interest, Bo (), tells her, ‘to hell with anyone who has ever made you feel less than that’. Again, this comment is supposed to affect the audience, it is supposed to create a discussion around fat bodies, and how they are just that, bodies. Although we see Willowdean called names and not be completely respected by her mum, we aren’t meant to feel sorry for her, because she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She is fat. She is a fat person, and that’s ok with her. Dumplin’ is not the first film to portray fatness as something that should be accepted, but it is one of the least problematic depictions to date. Only a year late, Isn’t it Romantic (2019)  starring Rebel Wilson, was released onto Netflix. Natalie, the cynical lead who cannot abide romcoms due to their insincere depictions of love goes on a journey of self-acceptance, and to an extent, self-respect. This film is notable in that Natalie’s weight is never really focused on, other than a few comments about herself and a few acidic comments from her mother (Jennifer Saunders).
Whilst watch Pretty Woman as a child, Natalie’s mother tells her to ‘forget about love. In real life, girls like us don’t get that’. ‘like us’ referring to their superficial looks. Both Natalie and her mother are on the larger side of idealistic beauty, and in her mother’s eyes, not comparable to the beauty of Julia Roberts. Natalie’s mother tell her to ‘look in the mirror, darl’. They’ll never make movies about girls like us’. This use of dramatic irony could be seen as a tongue in cheek message to, not just the audience, but to the general public as well. These writers, and others like them, can and will use fat bodies as central characters, and they will use them in a serious role, not as a freak to poke and laugh at.
Natalie is realistic in that she views her appearance in a negative way in terms of the perception of her body by others. The stereotypical arrogant attractive male business man, played by Liam Hemsworth, requests coffee from Natalie rather than recognising her as a professional architect that is working on the project for his hotel. Natalie believes that ‘a guy like that I’m just invisible to’. Here, Natalie has done the same thing that girls worldwide have done, they have associated their worth with the way they are views by others. Like Mulvey proposed, the male gaze is used to oppress genuine female representations, and Natalie is herself trying to view her own body through the male gaze. Natalie spends the first act of the film as fairly weak character who does not stand up for herself. She is asked repeatedly to take people’s rubbish to the bin and to do jobs that other people are employed for, such as fixing the 3D printer. She appears to have fallen victim to societies pressures, and her inability to fit into the idealistic views of beauty and the female body. She is fat, so therefore she is worthless. At the end of the first act, Natalie is mugged, and spends the second act living in a fantasy world where everything and everyone is beautiful. Similar to Shallow Hal, but less misogynistic.
Blake only becomes interested in Natalie in this parallel universe where he repeatedly calls her ‘beguiling’. Josh, however, has always found her attractive. He is also the only person not to be changed by this meta rom-com universe. He does display some characteristic of associating beauty with being a ‘perfect human’, particularly when he becomes romantically involved with a supermodel.
At the end of the film Natalie tells Josh that although she will never look like a supermodel, she is a good person, and her personality should be valued above her physical appearance. She implores Josh to choose her, and love her before eventually realising that the point of this universe was not to make Josh fall in love with her, but for her to fall in love with her self.
Acceptance and Conclusions
This thesis has explored the many ways in which the female body has very specific ideals to conform to. It mustn’t be too fat, too thin, too sexual, too frigid. It needs to be controlled and manageable. There is no immediate fix for the lack of fat female actresses on screen, because hopefully this thesis has shown how indoctrinated these views are across societies and cultures, particularly western societies. What we do need to do is start supporting those that are standing up for fat acceptance. Jammela Jamil, a British actress ad prolific tweeter, recently tweeted that she has now written it into her contract that under no circumstances is she to be airbrushed. This then led to her most recent billboard featuring her with backfact. Jamil is by no means fat, but like everyone in the world, she has fat. As she herself said ‘I jave backfat in every bra’. A small step like this will lead to back fat being normalised, and young girls, and boys, viewing these images on social media and other platforms, will gradually start to see fat in a different way.
How Can We Stop this? So if it’s not okay to make fun of obese people, what can we do to stop it? 1. First, be sensitive to offensive comments about weight and recognize that fat humor is harmful. 2. Second, seek out entertainment options that challenge weight-based stereotypes and feature obese people in regular, non-stereotypical roles like the Style Network’s “Ruby,” Dena on “Samantha Who,” Hurley on “Lost,”and Ellenor Frutt on “The Practice.” 3. Third, look critically at news sources and recognize the bias that often emerges in news reports about obesity. 4. Finally, speak out against weight bias – help others around you understand the importance of treating all people, regardless of body size, with dignity and respect.
Addison, H., 2003. In Hollywood and the rise of physical culture, Psychology Press, p.69
Ade, G., 1922. ‘‘On the Social Error of Being Well Fed.’’ Cosmopolitan 73:22–23 , The Cosmopolitan. v.73 1922 Jul-Dec.
Bonafini, B. A. and Pozzilli, P. (2011), Body weight and beauty: the changing face of the ideal female body weight. Obesity Reviews, p.63.
Brown, J. A., 2011, Dangerous curves: Action heroines, gender, fetishism, and popular culture, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. P. 37
Calogero, R.M., Boroughs, M. and Thompson, J.K., 2007. The impact of Western beauty ideals on the lives of women: A sociocultural perspective in The body beautiful (pp. 259-298). Palgrave Macmillan, London, p.18
Campos, P., 2004. The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health. Penguin, p.23.
Campos, P., 2004. The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health. New York: Gotham, p.83.
Chochinov, L., The Beach Body Ad: An Industry Capitalizing on Covert Sexism.
Chrisler, J.C., 2012, “Why can’t you control yourself?” Fat should be a feminist issue. Sex Roles, p. 609.
Cwynar-Horta, J., 2016. ‘The commodification of the body positive movement on Instagram’, Stream: inspiring critical thought, 8(2), p.38.
Famous Fat Women, (May 8th 1952), Jet Magazine, p.57.
Farrell, A.E., 2011. Fat shame: Stigma and the fat body in American culture. NYU Press, p.90.
Fenwick, H., 2011. ‘Butch Lesbians: Televising Female Masculinity’ in Women on Screen: Feminism and Femininity in Visual Culture,Water, M., (ed.), London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, p.93.
Fletcher, A., (Dir.), 2018. Dumplin’ Echo Films
Fouts,G., and Burgraff, K., 1999. ‘Television Situation Comedies: Female Body Image s and Verbal Reinforcements, Sex Roles, Vol. 40, Nos. 5/6, 1999, University of Calgary
Fox-Kales, E., 2011. Body shots: Hollywood and the culture of eating disorders. SUNY Press, p.110.
Friend, L.A. and Westgate, L.S., 2006. ‘Is Fat Still a Feminist Issue? the Selling of Hope, Fear, and Resistance At the Movies’ in ACR Gender and Consumer Behavior, p.13.
Friend, L.A. and Westgate, L.S., 2006. Is Fat Still a Feminist Issue? the Selling of Hope, Fear, and Resistance At the Movies. ACR Gender and Consumer Behavior, p.13.
Gapinski, K. D., Schwartz, M. B. and Brownell, K. D. 2006), Can Television Change Anti‐Fat Attitudes and Behavior?1. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, p.12.
Goodman, J. R. (2002) ‘Flabless Is Fabulous: How Latina and Anglo Women Read and Incorporate the Excessively Thin Body Ideal into Everyday Experience’, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 79(3), pp. 712–727. doi: 10.1177/107769900207900311. 716
Hole. A., 2003, ‘Performing identity: Dawn French and the funny fat female body’, Feminist Media Studies, 3:3, 315-328, p.316.
Holliday, T., 2017.The Not So Subtle Art Of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You're In, Bonnier Publishing Ltd., p.55
Kleiner, F.S., 2016. Gardner's art through the ages: The western perspective (Vol. 1). Cengage Learning, p.34.
Koggel, C. ed., 2006. Moral Issues in Global Perspective-Volume 2: Human Diversity and Equality (Vol. 2). Broadview Press, p.142
Kozlowski, M., 2018. Fat Girls: Sexuality, Transgression, and Fatness in Popular Culture.85
LeBesco,K., 2005. ‘Situating fat suits: Blackface, drag, and the politics of performance, Women & Performance’ in A Journal of Feminist Theory, 15:2, 231-242, p.232
Link, B.G. and Phelan, J.C., 2001. Conceptualizing stigma. Annual review of Sociology, 27(1), p.367.
Malone, A., 2015. Hollywood’s Second Sex: The Treatment of Women in the Film Industry, 1900–1999.
McKoy, S.S., 2011. Placing and Replacing “The Venus Hottentot”: An Archeology of Pornography, Race, and Power. In Representation and Black Womanhood (pp. 85-97). Palgrave Macmillan, New York, p.84.
Mobley, J., 2014. Female bodies on the American stage: Enter fat actress. Springer.p.9.
MOORE, J., 2012. Pitch Perfect. Universal City, CA, Universal Studios.
Mosher, Setting free the bears, refiguring fat men on television in Bodies out of Bounds, p.167
Mulvey, L., 1975. ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in Screen 16.3 Autumn 1975 p. 10
Paul Feig (2011). Bridesmaids.
Pausé, C., Wykes, J. and Murray, S. eds., 2016. Queering fat embodiment. Routledge, p.1.
Phelan, S.T., 2002, Fads and fashions: the price women pay, Primary Care Update for ob/gyns, 9(4), p.141.
Pistone, Amy., 2015, Film Not Found: Current Cinematic Representation of Fat Females and Scripting the Self in BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 102. Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/102 p.3.
Qureshi, S., 2004. Displaying Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus’. History of Science, 42(2), p.233
Rich, A., 1976. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co., p.284.
Rothblum, E.D., Brand, P.A., Miller, C.T. and Oetjen, H.A., 1990. The relationship between obesity, employment discrimination, and employment-related victimization. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 37(3), p.251.
Saguy, A.C. and Ward, A., 2011. Coming out as fat: Rethinking stigma. Social Psychology Quarterly, 74(1), p.55,
Shabi, R., 2001. ‘Women: You Wear It Well: Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts Have Donned 'Fat Suits' for Recent Film Roles, but What Do Real Overweight Women Think of Their On-Screen Portrayal? The Guardian (Manchester, UK). 22 November: 2.8.
Shelton, S.A., 2019. ‘Film Dumplin’and Book Puddin’, Fat Studies, p.1
Slapak, G., 2019. ‘Sink or Swim: Deciding the Fate of the Miss America Swimsuit Competition’, Women Leading Change: Case Studies on Women, Gender, and Feminism, 4(1).
Smith, C.A., Konik, J.A. and Tuve, M.V., 2011. ‘In search of looks, status, or something else? Partner preferences among butch and femme lesbians and heterosexual men and women’, Sex Roles, 64(9-10), p.658
Stearns, P.N., Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West, NYU Press, 2002, p.72.
Steinhoff, H., 2015. Transforming bodies: Makeovers and Monstrosities in American culture. Springer, p.1.
Stokes, J., 2013. “Fat People of the World Unite!: Subjectivity, Identity, and Representation in Fat Feminist Manifestoes.” Interdisciplinary Humanities, P.65.
Stukator, A., 2001. ‘It’s Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings: Comedy, the Carnivalesque, and Body Politics’, in Braziel, J.E. and LeBesco, K., (ed.), Bodies Out of Bounds—Fatness and Transgression, Los Angeles: University of California Press. p.199.
Stukator, A., 2001. ‘It’s Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings: Comedy, the Carnivalesque, and Body Politics’, in Braziel, J.E. and LeBesco, K., (ed.), Bodies Out of Bounds—Fatness and Transgression, Los Angeles: University of California Press. p.199.
Todd Strauss-Schulson. Director. Isn’t It Romantic?. Netflix. 2019
Ulaby, N., 2001. ‘Roscoe Arbuckle and the Scandal of Fatness, in J.E. Braziel and K. LeBEsco (Ed.) Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression , University of California Press, p.157.
Voelker, D.K., Reel, J.J. and Greenleaf, C., 2015. ‘Weight status and body image perceptions in adolescents: current perspectives’ in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, (6), p.150.
Weitz, R. and Weitz, R., 2015. A history of women’s bodiesin Women in Culture: An Intersectional Anthology for Gender and Women's Studies, Scott, B.K., Cayleff, S.E., Donadey,A., and Lara, I., (eds.), Oxford:Blackwell Publishing, p.6.
Zeilenger, J., 2015 . What our obsession with so-called ‘Bikini Bodies’ says about us, [accessed: July 23, 2019] from: http://mic.com/articles/119826/what-the-way-we-talk-about-beach-bodies-says-about-us
The Telegraph, Rebel Wilson interview: 'I thought, How can I get more laughs? Maybe if I was a bit fatter… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/07/02/rebel-wilson-interview-i-thought-how-can-i-get-more-laughs-maybe / Gabby Wood , 2.7.16
 Stukator, A., 2001. ‘It’s Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings: Comedy, the Carnivalesque, and Body Politics’, in Braziel, J.E. and LeBesco, K., (ed.), Bodies Out of Bounds—Fatness and Transgression, Los Angeles: University of California Press. p.199.
 Steinhoff, H., 2015. Transforming bodies: Makeovers and Monstrosities in American culture. Springer, p.1.
 Koggel, C. ed., 2006. Moral Issues in Global Perspective-Volume 2: Human Diversity and Equality (Vol. 2). Broadview Press, p.142
 Ibid. p.144
 Ibid, p.144
 Calogero, R.M., Boroughs, M. and Thompson, J.K., 2007. The impact of Western beauty ideals on the lives of women: A sociocultural perspective in The body beautiful (pp. 259-298). Palgrave Macmillan, London, p.18
 Kline, K.N., 2006. A decade of research on health content in the media: the focus on health challenges and sociocultural context and attendant informational and ideological problems. Journal of health communication, 11(1), p.44.
 Ross, T., 2019. Media and Stereotypes. The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity, p.1.
 Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, London, Sage/Open University Press. P.17
 Link, B.G. and Phelan, J.C., 2001. Conceptualizing stigma. Annual review of Sociology, 27(1), p.367.
 Rothblum, E.D., Brand, P.A., Miller, C.T. and Oetjen, H.A., 1990. The relationship between obesity, employment discrimination, and employment-related victimization. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 37(3), p.251.
 Gapinski, K. D., Schwartz, M. B. and Brownell, K. D. 2006), Can Television Change Anti‐Fat Attitudes and Behavior?1. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, p.12.
 Pistone, Amy., 2015, Film Not Found: Current Cinematic Representation of Fat Females and Scripting the Self in BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 102. Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/102 p.3.
 Hole. A., 2003, ‘Performing identity: Dawn French and the funny fat female body’, Feminist Media Studies, 3:3, 315-328, p.316.
 Friend, L.A. and Westgate, L.S., 2006. ‘Is Fat Still a Feminist Issue? the Selling of Hope, Fear, and Resistance At the Movies’ in ACR Gender and Consumer Behavior, p.13.
 Kleiner, F.S., 2016. Gardner's art through the ages: The western perspective (Vol. 1). Cengage Learning, p.34.
 Phelan, S.T., 2002, Fads and fashions: the price women pay, Primary Care Update for ob/gyns, 9(4), p.141.
 Bordo, Susan. 2003. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press p.332
 Sastre, A., 2014. Hottentot in the age of reality TV: Sexuality, race, and Kim Kardashian’s visible body. Celebrity Studies, 5(1-2), p.124.
 Bonafini, B. A. and Pozzilli, P. (2011), Body weight and beauty: the changing face of the ideal female body weight. Obesity Reviews, p.63.
 Dixson, A.F. and Dixson, B.J., 2012. Venus figurines of the European Paleolithic: symbols of fertility or attractiveness?. Journal of Anthropology, 2011 p.2.
 Brown, J. A., 2011, Dangerous curves: Action heroines, gender, fetishism, and popular culture, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. P. 37
 Stearns, P.N., Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West, NYU Press, 2002, p.72.
 Chrisler, J.C., 2012, “Why can’t you control yourself?” Fat should be a feminist issue. Sex Roles, p. 609.
 Malone, A., 2015. Hollywood’s Second Sex: The Treatment of Women in the Film Industry, 1900–1999. McFarland, p.4.
 Addison, H., 2003. In Hollywood and the rise of physical culture, Psychology Press, p.69
 Ulaby, N., 2001. ‘Roscoe Arbuckle and the Scandal of Fatness, in J.E. Braziel and K. LeBEsco (Ed.) Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression , University of California Press, p.157.
 Famous Fat Women, (May 8th 1952), Jet Magazine, p.57.
 Ibid. p.62
 Ibid. p.62
 Farrell, A.E., 2011. Fat shame: Stigma and the fat body in American culture. NYU Press, p.90.
 Qureshi, S., 2004. Displaying Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus’. History of Science, 42(2), p.233
 McKoy, S.S., 2011. Placing and Replacing “The Venus Hottentot”: An Archeology of Pornography, Race, and Power. In Representation and Black Womanhood (pp. 85-97). Palgrave Macmillan, New York, p.84.
 Shaw., E., 2006.The Emodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s unruly political Bodies, Lexington Books, P.1.
 Olson, G., 2006. Fat and Class Prejudice: America's Two-Body Society. P.188.
 Saguy, A.C. and Ward, A., 2011. Coming out as fat: Rethinking stigma. Social Psychology Quarterly, 74(1), p.55,
 LeBesco,K., 2005. ‘Situating fat suits: Blackface, drag, and the politics of performance, Women & Performance’ in A Journal of Feminist Theory, 15:2, 231-242, p.232
 Campos, P., 2004. The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health. Penguin, p.23.
 Shallow Hal. Dir. Bobby and Peter Farrely. Perf. Gwyneth Paltrow. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation,
 Fox-Kales, E., 2011. Body shots: Hollywood and the culture of eating disorders. SUNY Press, p.110.
 Shabi, R., 2001. ‘Women: You Wear It Well: Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts Have Donned 'Fat Suits' for Recent Film Roles, but What Do Real Overweight Women Think of Their On-Screen Portrayal? The Guardian (Manchester, UK). 22 November: 2.8.
 Mulvey, L., 1975. ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in Screen 16.3 Autumn 1975 p. 10
 Mobley, J., 2014. Female bodies on the American stage: Enter fat actress. Springer.p.9.
Stukator, A., 2001. ‘It’s Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings: Comedy, the Carnivalesque, and Body Politics’, in Braziel, J.E. and LeBesco, K., (ed.), Bodies Out of Bounds—Fatness and Transgression, Los Angeles: University of California Press. p.199.
 Stokes, J., 2013. “Fat People of the World Unite!: Subjectivity, Identity, and Representation in Fat Feminist Manifestoes.” Interdisciplinary Humanities, P.65.
 Weitz, R. and Weitz, R., 2015. A history of women’s bodiesin Women in Culture: An Intersectional Anthology for Gender and Women's Studies, Scott, B.K., Cayleff, S.E., Donadey,A., and Lara, I., (eds.), Oxford:Blackwell Publishing, p.6.
 Simmons, J., 2013. Media Representations of Obesity: First Amendment Friendly Approach to Addressing Hate Speech in the Media p.10
 Gapinksi ibid. 23
 Campos, P., 2004. The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health. New York: Gotham, p.83.
 MOORE, J., 2012. Pitch Perfect. Universal City, CA, Universal Studios.
 Ade, G., 1922. ‘‘On the Social Error of Being Well Fed.’’ Cosmopolitan 73:22–23 , The Cosmopolitan. v.73 1922 Jul-Dec.
 Fouts,G., and Burgraff, K., 1999. ‘Television Situation Comedies: Female Body Image s and Verbal Reinforcements, Sex Roles, Vol. 40, Nos. 5/6, 1999, University of Calgary p.473.
 Smith, C.A., Konik, J.A. and Tuve, M.V., 2011. ‘In search of looks, status, or something else? Partner preferences among butch and femme lesbians and heterosexual men and women’, Sex Roles, 64(9-10), p.658
 Fenwick, H., 2011. ‘Butch Lesbians: Televising Female Masculinity’ in Women on Screen: Feminism and Femininity in Visual Culture,Water, M., (ed.), London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, p.93.
 Friend, L.A. and Westgate, L.S., 2006. Is Fat Still a Feminist Issue? the Selling of Hope, Fear, and Resistance At the Movies. ACR Gender and Consumer Behavior, p.46
 Pausé, C., Wykes, J. and Murray, S. eds., 2016. Queering fat embodiment. Routledge, p.1.
 The Telegraph, Rebel Wilson interview: 'I thought, How can I get more laughs? Maybe if I was a bit fatter… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/07/02/rebel-wilson-interview-i-thought-how-can-i-get-more-laughs-maybe/ Gabby Wood, 2.7.16
 Paul Feig (2011). Bridesmaids.
 Cwynar-Horta, J., 2016. ‘The commodification of the body positive movement on Instagram’, Stream: inspiring critical thought, 8(2), p.38.
 Kozlowski, M., 2018. Fat Girls: Sexuality, Transgression, and Fatness in Popular Culture.85
 Goodman, J. R. (2002) ‘Flabless Is Fabulous: How Latina and Anglo Women Read and Incorporate the Excessively Thin Body Ideal into Everyday Experience’, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 79(3), pp. 712–727. doi: 10.1177/107769900207900311. 716
 Holliday, T., 2017.The Not So Subtle Art Of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You're In, Bonnier Publishing Ltd., p.55
 Voelker, D.K., Reel, J.J. and Greenleaf, C., 2015. ‘Weight status and body image perceptions in adolescents: current perspectives’ in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, (6), p.150.
 Fletcher, A., (Dir.), 2018. Dumplin’ Echo Films
 Shelton, S.A., 2019. ‘Film Dumplin’and Book Puddin’, Fat Studies, p.1
 Rich, A., 1976. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co., p.284.
 Chochinov, L., The Beach Body Ad: An Industry Capitalizing on Covert Sexism.
 Zeilenger, J., 2015 . What our obsession with so-called ‘Bikini Bodies’ says about us, [accessed: July 23, 2019] from: http://mic.com/articles/119826/what-the-way-we-talk-about-beach-bodies-says-about-us
 Slapak, G., 2019. ‘Sink or Swim: Deciding the Fate of the Miss America Swimsuit Competition’, Women Leading Change: Case Studies on Women, Gender, and Feminism, 4(1).
 Todd Strauss-Schulson. Director. Isn’t It Romantic?. Netflix. 2019
 Heuer, C.A. and MPH, C., 2011. Fattertainment. Obesity in the media. Retrieved from http://www. obesityaction. org/wp-content/uploads/fattertainment. pdf.
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