Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Louie and the Fat Lady Conversation

Now, I don't watch the TV series Louie(although I am very familiar with it's star Louis C.K. and his style of comedy) but have heard great things about it. I mainly haven't seen it because there is usually another show that I'm already into up against it in that time slot.

However,one of the more recent episodes has created quite a stir at the pop culture water cooler today and since it has to do with a subject that I have personal experience with, my two cents on the matter feels warranted on this occasion.

  As some of you may know, I'm a plus size woman( or fat, if you prefer) and have commented before here on how large ladies are depicted in society.

 This episode of Louie,entitled "So Did the Fat Lady", hits upon the whole social stigma of guys dating fat women, in particular with an excellent speech by actress Sarah Baker(playing a waitress that Louie has a reluctant relationship with) where she asks him the question that many of us big girls would like guys to answer-"Why do you hate us so much?"

It's a fair question, given the trope of the Sexually Easy Fat Girl that pervades both film and TV. Before any of you fellas start complaining that "Hey, it's hard for big guys,too!", let me ask you this: have you ever heard a woman on either a TV show or in a movie talk/joke about hooking up with a fat man at the end of the night and how not difficult it was to get him into bed? No, you can't think of one time? Well, that's because it doesn't happen,ever!

I can recall the first time that I learned of this particular notion,courtesy of Andrew Dice Clay back in his heyday. Yes, he was an equal opportunity slinger of crud but believe me, his bit about luring a fat girl into the sack with a box of Twinkies made quite an impression on me at a young age and I'm dead certain that I'm not alone in that.

Art in any format is a reflection of social attitudes and I was taught by the media early on that sexuality and fat women go together like unsalted peanut butter and sewage. Two questionable tastes that definitely don't taste great together.

That may sound harsh but it's one of the big reasons that I have never attempted to have a romantic relationship-I did not want to be the Slutty Fat Girl. Don't worry, I'm not about to get all auto bio here, but it needs to be said that a lot of this negative perception of an overweight woman's sex appeal has been strongly reenforced by pop culture.

 At best, sex with a fat girl is seen as a joke, mainly an embarrassing moment in a guy's life that he would rather not talk about too much and never meant to lead to anything more than a cheap one night stand:

I'm also not letting women off the hook either. We are our own worst enemy at times and even with all the strides women have made in the media, one of the most prevalent nightmare images for females is being fat.

Part of this ridiculousness comes from insisting that even normal sized actresses like Mindy Kaling are grossly overweight and the constant focus on body size determining a woman's worth. Granted, women can be a little more subtle about it but one weapon that always seems to be in their arsenal whether it's a fictional or a reality show is that being fat is a woman's worst fault:

 So, I want to give credit to Louis C. K. and Sarah Baker for getting the ball rolling again on this topic. It would be nice to have an open and honest conversation about why fat women are still bearing the brunt of pop culture fury and how we could change all of that in both the real as well as the imaginary world we all live in.

I may be naive but I would like to think that there may come a time in our society where such ideas are only seen as antiquated customs of the distant past, like some of the things we see on a series like Mad Men. I long for a world where a women's worth in any aspect of her life is not measured in pounds and her personal happiness is not limited to numbers on a scale. Pop culture can't change everything bad in our world but it can nudge us towards a better tomorrow:


Thaddeus said...

Well, for one thing, I want to start by saying that it may be less of a "fat women" thing and more of a "fat people" thing. While it's true that there are many social stereotypes against fat women, I honestly believe that it boils down to awful attitudes about "good-looking women," with the presumption being that thin women = good-looking women.

There are many tropes in society and pop culture about heavy-set folks. But Tom Cruise keeps getting paired with women in their 30's even as he's hitting his 50's. And the exercise craze of the 70s and 80s (and beyond) have really made people think that not-thin = unhealthy. It stinks.

But looking back at John Candy and Chris Farley and other corpulent men, you see a real mean stereotype displayed. I would write it off because pop culture is often for the lowest common denominator, but it pervades in society, too.

I hope you don't take too much "baggage" from this stuff onto yourself. There are plenty of men who don't want a toothpick-shaped woman. And I've heard BBC reports about women getting treated more nicely by men after getting breast augmentation.

The point is: would you care what guys think if they're only nice to "hot" girls? Would you want that kind of attention? From jerks? There are plenty of non-judgmental men out there, and above all confidence and positivity is a sexy thing. I don't know what you've been through, but please don't forget that.

lady t said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this,Thaddeus and I do agree that heavy set men don't get a completely free pass on this subject either.

The sad fact that Chris Farley felt compelled to walk down the same dark road as his idol John Belushi did speaks volumes about the lack of large leading man positive images. Yes, they have a better chance of getting the "hot girl" on screen but not at the expense of some needless body shaming humor.

Don't get me wrong, I can "take a joke as much as the next fat person"*Matilda reference* but there comes a point where it gets to be too much.

As for me personally, please forgive my dramatics(I'm American of Irish descent and we're prone to do that) on this matter. I don't out and out blame ADC or the pop culture world entirely for my reluctance in that arena but it is a strong influential factor not just for me and I felt I had to acknowledge that.

And for the record, it's really not so much getting attention from superficial jerks(which women of all shapes have to deal with), it's being accepted as a complete person and not just my size. As that speech on Louie pointed out, that possibility of being the person who very well could have a husband or boyfriend and not automatically assumed to be unlovable.

I do know that there are decent guys and gals out there,not to mention folks who have gone through worse rejections that myself but thank you for your encouragement and considerate concern.

Oh, and one last thing; sometimes, pop culture gets things right. One of the reasons that I enjoyed season one of Under the Dome was Dodie, a character that doesn't last very long in the book(spoiler,sorry) but on the show, she was given more of a vital supporting role.

Dodie was smart and tech savvy,plus brave enough to stand up to the real Big Bad in their midst(although far too trusting which lead to her death) and oh, by the way, she's fat.

Her size is never made an issue and granted, there are more important things for the gang in Chester's Mill to worry about but seeing her here was a real breath of fresh air. She may be gone(not for long, if those hints about a ghostly appearance from her that I saw in a teaser are right) but not forgotten. I just wish we could have more characters like that in non genre fare.

Thaddeus said...

I dig that. BBC is better about not casting models in every role or lead. Nick Frost, Robbie Coltrane... Hell, the series Miranda has a lead who is clearly plus sized despite being over six feet tall...

lady t said...

Yes, one of the reasons I dig the BBC and Brit films like Notting Hill:D

Thaddeus said...

Argh! You always end with a jade's trick. I know you of old.