Here’s Why Fatphobia in Movies and TV is a Non-Issue

The Whale (2022) - IMDb

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Let’s get this straight right away: fatphobia is one of the most nonsensical words out there since the truth is that a phobia is an irrational fear of something and the idea of being afraid of fat people in the world is all kinds of ridiculous. When applying this word toward movies, however, a lot of people tend to forget that no matter what role an actor takes on during a movie, it’s a ROLE, not a lifestyle, not an attempt to step into someone else’s skin and see if they can judge them or sympathize with them. It’s a role, a part of their job, and while it is far more intimate than many careers, the fact that people want to rant and rave about the portrayal of obese people in the movies is kind of a double-edged sword since if movies don’t represent bigger people, there’s an issue, but it would appear that if movies do represent obese people that there are issues as well. One thing that can be said for certain is that hypocrisy is one of the only constants when it comes to accurate and fair representation since someone is always going to complain about something when it comes to placing certain characters on the big or small screen. But claiming that fatphobia is an issue in the movies is, well, it’s enough to make a person tear at their hair upon trying to figure out if there’s any way to make a movie these days without offending anyone, especially those who are so bored with life that they need to invent something to gripe about. 

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There is no fear of fat people in the movies, at least not genuine fear. 

The term ‘phobia’ isn’t the worst thing that could ever be spoken, but it is an issue since it tends to mean that there is fear that comes from others regarding obese people. This prompts the question of when was the last time that anyone saw a person who was genuinely afraid of another person simply because they were obese. The fear one might see in the movies comes more from the implication that a person with a larger body might fall on them, lie on them, or somehow smother them without seeing the individual who is seen to be afraid, but this is often a comical situation that is treated as such and is, therefore, a lot more lighthearted. Unfortunately, too many people don’t appear to see things this way, as they believe that the use of overweight individuals needs to be handled with more care and sensitivity. It’s at times like this that one can’t help but wonder what the obese actors of the past would say to this. 

The funny thing about obese people in movies is that those who try to change their lifestyle are positive characters, while those who wallow in their obesity are easy to vilify. 

There have been plenty of obese people in the movies over the years, and their actions and attitudes have been quite diverse. Those who are comfortable with who they are, or are seen to be actively trying to change their lifestyle, are often the most positive individuals that many feel represent a healthy attitude toward obesity. Unfortunately, there are many roles dealing with obesity that look at the most negative aspects without any sense of hope or possibility of change that might create a healthier respect for said characters. There’s no desire to pretend that everyone can be happy and slim, but being positive about oneself and the idea that life can become more positive if one works through their weight issues, or learns to come to terms with them, might actually inspire people in real life to see that yes, there is hope, and no, there is no desire for a single body type. There’s no fear of being fat unless it comes from an individual, but the need to generalize and create blanket ideas and statements has done a great deal of damage when it comes to the onscreen representation of obese individuals. 

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Being comfortable with your own body means that you can do just about anything on screen without being shamed. 

The many debates that have come and gone concerning body positivity have been enough to make a lot of people roll their eyes and wonder when folks are going to get the idea that it is entirely possible to be happy with one’s own body and still remain successful in the film industry. The need of so many to claim that Hollywood is fatphobic and that the representation of obese people in movies is negative in any way is a sure sign that a lot of people aren’t as comfortable in their own skin as they claim to be and are in favor of changing the minds of the many instead of seeing to their own personal issues, which should be much easier to handle. 

Fat suits are a prop, not an insult to the obese people of the world. 

A lot of people can’t stand fat suits, but the fact is that these are specialized props, not a giant middle finger to the obese people of the world. It’s simply astounding to realize people can be offended by a prop but are perfectly okay if an actor risks their health for a role. 

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