Acting Like A Hippo

Fat guy in a little coat.  – Chris Farley

The internet is abuzz after Rex Reed’s review of Melissa McCarthy’s performance in Identity Thief.  There is nothing that makes my blood boil more than having someone call someone else “tractor-sized”, and “hippo”.  I too have been victim of people shouting at me from cars to “lose some weight”.  More recently, I was walking into a store, and after smiling a “hello” to two young adults loitering outside heard, “whale alert”.  Their “observation” was unwelcome, unwarranted, and just mean-spirited. If you are one of those people who like to point out people’s size, stop it!  We know!  And a lot of us are working on it, and your comments aren’t helping.  I’m sure Ms. McCarthy does not need me to stand up for her, but I will outline my main beef with his words.

A critic is meant to provide discourse on a professional level.  How was the acting in the movie?  Body image has nothing to do with the acting.  He provided a personal critique when he should have been focused on the professional only.

Other discussions have naturally arisen from the news of Mr. Reed’s words.  One I heard this morning, from Calgary’s X92.9 radio station is what got me thinking.  Is McCarthy using her weight as a tool, as it were?  As Lori Gibbs, morning show host of The Show asked, did a skinny, unfunny McCarthy decide she would be funnier if she were fat?  I think you could find evidence that it could be true for some people, but as a performer who has “layers” (Gibb’s word which I loved and stole), I have chosen to use my size for good, rather than evil.  That is to say, I know people make fun of me.  I’m not deaf.  I’m not blind.  I can see the looks, can hear the whispers.  But if I take it away from them, acknowledge I’m fat before they can tell me, I win.  Not them.  Every single one of us has something we don’t like about ourselves.  Our hair may be too frizzy, too straight, or your nose may not be your ideal.  Fat people don’t have the monopoly on people making fun of them, but it does seem to be the “sexy” topic to critics and the internet.

I can sit here and defend myself saying I am on a journey to lose weight, and I am doing so by running, playing softball in the summer, and generally not hiding away eating in a dark corner, but I am not going to stop enjoying the things I love because someone thinks I’m fat. And pardon me, but I don’t believe I heard as much viciousness when discussing John Candy, Chris Farley, and John Belushi (to name a few).  Why can large men have nubile wives, but large women can’t have attractive, fit husbands?  It happens in real life.  Believe it or not, some people are more attractive to the quality of a person, and not the quantity.

I am in the public eye with my theatre group, with the kid’s workshop I teach.  Are there times I wish I wasn’t the fat girl in the room?  Sure. But my talent, my ability has nothing to do with my weight. I don’t act to my weight.  I act to my ability.  Weight does not define my worth.  You don’t define my worth.  I do.

I close with a quote from Bones, which has since stuck with me, and is worth remembering: “an over-emphasis on physical beauty is a common observable phenomena of societies in decline.”

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1 Comment

  1. As someone who calculates the BMI (body mass index) of thousands of people a year going to have surgery. I have to say very few fall into the “normal” range and most are in the “overweight” range ( even though, to look at them you wouldn’t call them “fat”). So, there are in fact a number of pots calling the kettle black …. Besides. I thought we lived in Canada, where we accept people for who they are. It must be terrible to be so shallow and to have such low self esteem that you feel you need to put other people down just to make yourself feel good. I really pity those people. I don’t feel that being a “fat” person for most of my life has been a bad thing. I am actually grateful. I think its made me more sensitive to other people’s feelings and insecurities. I am more careful about judging other people before getting to know them. I am a better nurse because I know what its like to be the subject of prejudice and ridicule.


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