Let’s talk body image. But let’s start with one of the reasons I hated Pitch Perfect as vehemently as the majority of theater goers loved it: Fat Amy.
Pitch Perfect fans, stick with me. I’ll explain, then I’ll explain some more.
I won’t confuse Rebel Wilson with Fat Amy, but I will take umbrage at the idea that it is okay to laugh at fat people if they call themselves fat first. It is never okay to make fun of someone’s body.
Let me say that again: It is never okay to make fun of someone’s body.
People got excited about Fat Representation with Wilson. For me, plopping Rebel Wilson down in the middle of the rest of the Bellas was sheer tokenism. Representation should mean a statistically proportionate show of X in a group of Y. In a sea of Hollywood-sized beauties, we had one spotlighted overweight girl, who was presented as the gross-out character. She was barely human. She was one zit-pop above John Belushi’s character in Animal House
The Fat Girl couldn’t be the smart one, or the one with the best voice, or the one with the A-Plot romance, or the one struggling with any issue other than her weight. Because, you know, Fat Girls exist in a bubble outside reality where they only worry about dieting and finding a man who is willing to touch their lard.
Fat Girls aren’t out there getting law degrees, finding cures for diseases, worrying about their 401k growth, or raising babies. They are just eating and crying, or eating and letting you in on the joke of their sad, Twinkie-filled lives, agreeing with you about how gross they are. Fat Girls aren’t people.
Fat Girls are jokes. That is not representation.
That was my 3rd biggest problem with Pitch Perfect, and how it was presented as a refreshing option for fat people. My biggest problems were what a terrible human being Anna Kendrick’s character was, and the sloppy writing.
Rebel Wilson is in trouble because she, an actress, lied about her age, her name, and her socio-economic background. I’m not sure why this shocks anyone who has ever heard of acting, but it’s raised some scandal and in addressing it, Wilson threwback to her Fat Amy character in saying her real name was “Fat Patricia”.
I started wondering about what Rebel Wilson owes us as an audience, and decided she owes nothing but a good performance when we’re paying to see her work. The rest? Come on. We’re not paying to learn about her mundane life, to paraphrase Cate Blanchett’s beautiful statement regarding the possibility of her having had lesbian love affairs, last week. We’re paying to see, god help us, Fat Amy.
What does Fat Amy owe us?
Fat Amy owes us less than Rebel Wilson does. Fat Amy owes us what we owe each other: Basic human decency.
I was thinking about buying a new swimsuit, so I’ve been trying them on here and there, just for fun. There is no lighting so unflattering as that of a dressing room, and there are few moments with such potential to destroy a woman’s self-confidence as those spent in said ill-lit dressing rooms, squeezing bodies into lycra casings.
I wear a size 16. At best, when I put on a swimsuit, I can expect it not to look too bad. At worst, I can throw out my back laughing. People, there are some badly made options out there.
Last night, I went over to Ross and found seven different suits to try on. All the suits were the same size, save for one, which was two sizes bigger just because I wanted to see it on. The one I liked best was too big, and the one I liked second best was designed by someone who did not understand that putting a seam up the center crotch of a ladies’ swim-bottom means her labia will end up occupying entirely different halves of that bottom, like when Marcia and Jan Brady put the tape line down between their beds, and neither was allowed to cross over. You don’t want Jan and Marcia fighting in your bikini bottom. It draws all the wrong kind of attention.
Here we see the Jan and Marcia suit while the sisters are still being friendly.
Anyway, the suits I avoided trying on were suits with tags screaming INSTANT MINIMIZER! and SPANX! and MAGICALLY SLIM! and REDUCES TUMMY! Why? Because for the love of pete, if I’m going swimming, I want to be able to actually move my parts and breathe. The last thing I need are jokes about me having beached myself because I am gasping for air in my Spanx suit.
Also, because a size 16 is a size 16 no matter what you stuff it into. If it magically reduces your belly fat, that’s probably because it has squished the fat around to your back, and is bubbling up over the straps in a place you can’t see it.
And also, because I don’t owe anyone my perfection in swimwear. My body is not a problem to be solved, and I thumb my nose in the general direction of anyone who thinks it is.
Your body is not a problem to be solved, either. Are you fat? That’s okay. Are you skinny? That’s okay. Are you Cindy Crawford? Thank you, I like looking at you.
You don’t like looking at me? That’s okay. Don’t look at me. But don’t ask me not to exist because I am the sight that makes your eyes sore, and not the other way around.
In preaching to the choir (because I know if you are reading this, you are delightful), let me say these things:
1. If you own a mirror, own your reflection.
2. Understand that you are not your body. Your body is just the costume your soul is wearing. If you love your costume, wear it with pride. If you don’t like it, change it. But do not let anyone else tell you there is anything wrong with it–you are the star of your movie, and you are in charge of the wardrobe. No. One. Else. Gets. To. Pick. Your. Costume. Only you.
3. Understand that it is okay to love your Body Costume the same way you love your favorite outfit. Anyone who tells you different–anyone who gets upset with you for liking how you look has bigger problems than you can imagine.
4. Stop looking at People of Walmart pictures and laughing. Don’t do to someone else, what you’d die if someone else did to you. You don’t know those people, or the hows, and whys of what brought them to the day someone snuck a photo of them for the purpose of mockery. Those are human beings. Those people are not Fat Amy.
5. Find ways to appreciate other people as forms of art. Everyone is a different genre, from your realists to your abstractionists. Enjoy them the way you would enjoy something wonderful in a museum. You don’t have to want it hanging on your living room wall to recognize the value of it. You can simply appreciate it for what it is.
6. For a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous literary representation of a girl who happens to be fat, read Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell.