"If I had been around when Rubens was painting, I would have been revered as a fabulous model. Kate Moss? Well, she would have been the paintbrush!"
The Silver (or Small) Screen
When we look at the Blockbuster movies and the greatest TV shows of our time, rarely do we see plump stars. The majority of both movies and TV shows have the "token" fat girl/guy. They are typically the goofy friend or the fat loser. You always hear how Celebrity X lost 30 pounds on an unusual but easy diet or exercise regime, bikini bods, and heaven forbid if someone captures a picture of an actress with the horrifying cellulite.
Memorable plus size ladies... kind of hard to think of any isn't it? You have Ethel Mertz from the classic TV show I Love Lucy. Sure, she was one of the main characters, but she was basically what? The "frumpy" best friend? Don't get me wrong, I'm not ragging on the show, it has been my favorite for as long as I can remember, but even then I realized that she was typecast.
Dawn French is a Wales born actress, writer, producer, and comedienne whom I greatly admire. Never quite the cookie-cutter girl, French always carried around a little extra. When asked about her image, she recalled her father telling her, every day, how beautiful she was. She stated, "He taught me to value myself. He told me that I was beautiful and the most precious thing in his life."
Her most memorable work started as a comedy duo with her best friend Jennifer Saunders. They worked together for 20 years off and on, each taking breaks to do their own projects. French also starred in the following BBC hits: The Vicar of Dibley; Murder Most Horrid; Jam & Jerusalem; and Roger and Val Have Just Got In.
What I admired was her readiness to embrace her body, and to not let it consume her identity. She is who she is, and while she has recently lost a lot of weight, vanity wasn't the issue, now in her 50s she said her health became more important to her and was quoted as saying "I refuse to hate my old body."
A documentary I really enjoy watching, narrated by Miss French, is Dawn French on Big Women, which you can find on Youtube. No matter what size she is, Dawn French is definitely an inspiration to fluffy girls and women everywhere.
All my life I have been fat, even as a child, but it wasn't for lack of exercise. My mother has a video of me around age four literally running in circles. I was a very active child; my body was just made to have some extra poundage. It never bothered me until I hit those terrible puberty years. I was very into the teeny-bopper magazines and pop music, which all featured petite and sometimes risqué images of girls and grown women. How the media just fawned over them! I remember drawing a picture of who I wanted to be when I grew up, and of course I drew myself a lot slimmer.
I am blessed enough to have been raised in a family that embraced themselves. Tall, short, fat, skinny, you were perfect no matter what. But as a girl going through these changes, I hated myself. To add to my almost nonexistent self-confidence, I was born with a crooked leg. I let it hold me back for 18 years, but at 22 I can now say that I love who I am. You can lose weight, get corrective surgery, but in the end, the people who were rooting for you and praised you did it because of you. You can look like road kill on a Monday, but if you have that inner light, you could melt the heat of any stranger. The same can be said concerning the Botoxed treadmill junkies, who can be externally the picture of perfect, but if that person is selfish, mean-spirited, and shallow... it bleeds through and exposes itself. Trust me; I know this from personal experience.
I am in a way better place right now in my life, but my weight does still give me problems. Sometimes I sell myself short when it comes to men, the cuter they are, the smaller (figuratively speaking) I feel, "there's no way he likes big girls." But more times than not, I can shake that off and just dive in. I gave out my number for the first time last year, and have a few times after that. No responses yet, but I won't let that deter me. I know that as a person I am quite a catch, and I always say it will take a special kind of awesome to handle me.
Basically, I am writing this article to reach out, and to encourage big girls to realize their worth. I don't have a mansion, a male model husband, everything I could ever want, but really... I don't need that. I look at myself in the mirror and smile at who I see. I have seen girls starving themselves and committing self-mutilation just to escape that negative voice saying you're not good enough. I was one of them. I used to cut myself because I was ugly anyway. It has been two years since I last harmed myself (purposefully, I'm not the most graceful so I do hurt myself a lot, but it's not planned, trust me!), and I plan on never getting back to that mental place.
I currently want to pursue a career in counseling. I feel like my reason for being, the reason for my years filled with sorrow and self-delusion, is so I can help those who are afraid to speak. Those who don't think they can be better. I am proof that yes, things are never going to be perfect, but perfection does not equal happiness.
I started this article because I wanted to discuss the social vision of larger people, the struggles, the fears, the difference in how normal things affect people of different sizes and backgrounds. This was supposed to be a very literary piece of analytical comparison, but hey, I hope someone got something out of this. And if you would like to hear more from this Fat Girl, or if you have anything at all to add or comment on, please do!
Quotes and biographical information courtesy of Wikipedia
Picture of Dawn French courtesy of Google Image & Mirror UK