plus sized representation

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BODIES AS TEXTRepresentation of Plus Sized Women In MediaAside from the obvious (Biggest Loser, general news views - which are bad.)People connect to characters, some formulate opinions about others through the narrative of other characters.Stereotypes - which ones are harmful? When is talking about weight a problem?Cant you just be happy with seeing plus sized women at all?Overview

Sharon Strelecki - Kath and Kim (1994)Fat Monica - FRIENDS (1994 - 2004)

Fat Monica (FRIENDS, 1994 - 2004)Characterized as gross and disgusting, to the point that other characters view her with distaste and sympathy.

Awkward, childish, over eager, uncool.

Uneducated on sex to the point of embarrassment, acts immature about it.

Her future husband Chandler rejects her, causing her to lose weight and become ~beautiful~

Running gag throughout series about how Monica broke various things during her fat childhood, ate too much or did outrageous things because she was hungry.

Becomes more human when she loses weight -- her personality becomes more distinct rather than just fat and hungry.

Megan - Bridesmaids (2012)Megan (Bridesmaids, 2012)Hypersexual, loud, gruff, blunt, presented as butch -- makes advances that are unwanted.Has weird kinks with food -- sex involving a 6 foot sandwichHer friends treat her with disgust and look mildly repulsed.Association with gross bodily fluids, as if fat people cant control themselves.Presented as the generic dreaded fat woman stereotype.Would the same character be made as a thin woman?Fat Amy - Pitch Perfect (2012)

Fat Amy (Pitch Perfect, 2012)Confident, doesnt hate her body, never mentions wanting to lose weight.Thinks shes hot shit, but not in the confronting/invading on other peoples spaces way.

BUT - confidence is played up for laughs.Says she needs a break from all of her boyfriends - its set up as a joke. Other characters react in disbelief.Comments about how she doesnt like exercise, most jokes that she delivers are about her weight.This is great if it were catered to other fat women, but its lined up to make skinny people gasp.

Lauren Zizes (Glee, 2009)Confident, a badass, top of the wrestling club but isnt characterized as butch.Knows what she wants and when she wants it, assertive, self driven and doesnt hate her body.Ropes in a traditionally attractive dude on her own terms and keeps him dangling in case shes interested.Motivated into joining Glee club/dating by being bribed with food.

Whats being said?From the descriptions given of those characters, what do you think about plus sized women?

Do you think people believe that those characters represent all plus sized women?Donna (Parks and Recreation, 2009 - 2011)

Donna (Parks and Rec, 2009 - 2011)Confident, hilarious, doesnt make her weight part of the punchline. Has a tight private life in which she keeps several men on a roster.Open about her sexuality but not blunt about it, isnt presented as immature or blunt.While shes open about sexuality, shes picky about who she sees.While this representation is positive, would such a sexual character be made if she werent overweight and black?

Rae Earl - My Mad Fat Diary (2013 - present)

Hates herself and her weight but deals with self reflection through therapy alongside mental illness.Show addresses her warped perception of herself, that she can be beautiful without losing weight and that shes more than her size.Sexuality is not the butt of a joke, just part of monologue as a teenage girl.Presented as a kind, sympathetic and fun character, creates honest discourse about being overweight without stereotypes.Rae (My Mad Fat Diary, 2013 - present)So Why Does It Matter?Othering consists in objectification of another person or group or creating the other, which puts aside and ignores the complexity and subjectivity of the individual (Abdallah-Pretceille 2006)

Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step in justifying violence against that person. - Dr. Jean Kilbourne, Study Guides Media Education Foundation 1.Who is the other?Female undergraduates were randomly exposed to pictures from magazines containing either ultra-thin models, average sized models or no models. Results indicated that exposure to the thin-ideal produced depression, stress, guilt, shame insecurity and body dissatisfaction. -Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1994, pp 288-308 - Arizona State University

National Eating Disorders Collaboration, 2014.DiscussionDo you think there should be more representation of plus sized/fat people in the media? Why/Why not?ReferencesReferences:AbdallahPretceille, M. (2006). Interculturalism as a paradigm for thinking about diversity.Intercultural Education, 17(5), 475-483. doi:10.1080/14675980601065764Bridesmaids. (2011).FRIENDS. (1994).Glee. (2009).Killing Us Softly. (1979).My Mad Fat Diary. (2013).National Eating Disorders Collaboration,. (2014). Retrieved from and Recreation. (2009).Pitch Perfect. (2013).Stice, E., & Shaw, H. (1994). Adverse Effects of the Media Portrayed Thin-Ideal on Women and Linkages to Bulimic Symptomatology. Journal Of Social And Clinical Psychology, 13(3), 288-308. doi:10.1521/jscp.1994.13.3.288


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