Opinion: The elephant in Hollywood: how fat people are mistreated in media

By Cayman Watson

Netflix

Imagine you are the fat person in a medium, whether it be a TV show, a movie, or a book. You receive no character development, no other personality aside from being fat. You’re only relevant when the skinny protagonist needs someone to dump their feelings on.

With representation in media growing and storylines of different marginalized groups getting makeovers, one out of multiple archetypes that continues to stay the same is the story of the skinny main character and the fat side character. This is especially true in media for young adults.

Take the Netflix series “Insatiable” for example, where the main character only becomes worthy is after she loses weight. The show is supposed to paint their main character as inspirational, but only does the opposite. Not to mention the lead of the show is not even played by a fat woman but just Debby Ryan in a fat suit.

Aside from “Insatiable”, multiple mediums have used the trope that fat people are only deemed worthy of love, healthy relationships, and friendships after they lose weight.  They treat the idea of being fat as a problem to be fixed and as something that forces you to be antisocial and alone for your whole life.

For example, the hit teen movie “The D.U.F.F.” (which stands for:  designated ugly fat friend). The title alone is disgusting and problematic. It follows the archaic tropes of high school pecking orders and has fat people always being at the bottom. The movie follows the same old story of the fat girl having to be the inspiration of social change. I’m not saying they can’t be, but that is not their only form of personality and relevance.

Fat people do not only exist to be leaders of social movements and to be used as inspiration for p*rn.

We deserve mundane stories and stories where is being fat is not the central part of the story.  A story where we are not just dumping grounds for the skinny characters, stories where we have our own thoughts, feelings and personalities. 

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