Melissa McCarthy has made big headlines with her new spot on the cover of Elle magazine sporting a bulky overcoat that is about 4 sizes too big on her non-zero sized frame. Plus size supporters are unhappy with the fact that the Elle stylists did not make an effort to dress to her figure and instead put her in a high priced, ill-fitting cashmere muumuu, essentially. I first learned about this as I was scanning through Yahoo! headlines, making the mistake of clicking on their in-depth analysis on the public’s outcry, citing three Twitter accounts by the names of @Runawaycow, @OhhSuzanna, and @MsCanada101. I could have put down “Hitler verified account” for the 2nd and 3rd ones and you probably wouldn’t have noticed because really? Runway cow is your first source for a plus size piece? Here is my face in emoticon. -__-
But my hate for this post isn’t to Yahoo. Instead, it’s on the women who are making this the focus. Yes, we can all agree the photo looks weird. It doesn’t fit the Elle image of high fashion, and that’s only because of the coat. It’s over-sized, and not in a “boyfriend tee” over-sized that is made for a woman’s body. The arms are clearly too long and the neckline looks like two elephant ears. Other than that, it’s fine. Melissa looks pretty and her hair is messy chic, or at least that’s how I like to think of it when I go to work without coming my hair out in the morning. What’s not fine is the fact that no one is making a stink about fat actresses constantly playing the role of stupid on the big screen.
Here’s some great examples to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
- Identify Thief! Melissa McCarthy plays a bumbling con-lady
- Bridesmaids! Melissa McCarthy plays a weird, doesn’t know boundaries, oddball (more on this in a second)
- Pitch Perfect! Rebel Wilson can’t run so chooses vertical running like a mermaid (yes I laughed, then I wept for fat humanity when she got hit with a burrito)
- Super Fun Night! Rebel Wilson is a lawyer (yay!) but still has that stink of dumb when it comes to social interactions, like when she and her friends try and snag some dudes on the internet, using lame accents and stupidity (boo!).
Wasn’t that a lot? I think so. There seems to be a lack of actresses who like eating cheeseburgers but don’t like acting a fool. Comedy is a tricky thing, because essentially you are getting an audience to make fun of something, and more often than not it is yourself. But the difference with these actresses and the ones who can pull off a bikini is that their characters’ often give off a sense of stupidity, or disconnect from the world that makes the funny come from the fact that they’re acting weird, and the idea that we can’t relate with them makes it seem comical. Take Bridesmaids for example. Kristen Wiig was acting all kinds of stupid in that movie. I cringed when she threw the cookie and wanted to SLAP her after Rhodes went out and got her baking supplies and she left! But the difference between her character and Melissa’s was that Kristen’s comedic actions came from normal, human emotions (heartache, growing pains, etc.), where as Melissa’s moments were based on a disconnect with societal norms, making her an odd, albeit hilarious, outsider who ends up looking, well, dumb.
There is a real stigma of fatties on TV and in movies of having to compensate their chunky thighs with absurdity and it sucks. Clearly these actresses are funny as hell, no question. What I’m questioning is their type-casting to be put in these roles and their absence from “normal” roles. I don’t see anyone falling in love and getting married (Although I’m rooting for you Mindy), or getting that dream job, or hell, even having an entertaining s-e-x scene. Why can’t these women show some guts and work towards an interesting, funny role that DOESN’T include being the butt of the joke? For God’s sake ladies, let’s work on making the punchline, not eating it.
Why do I care? I’m not sure. I think it’s because in the world of Hollywood, there seems to be two general figures: the thin class, and the Melissa McCarthy class. If given the scenario where I would have to describe my waistline using only those two types, I would have to go with M-dog. I hope that her and other fat actresses have a secret conspiracy they are working on to take over the industry that none of us know about. If that’s the case ladies, give me a call, I have a great idea for a screenplay.