Fat Shaming in the Movie Industry
By: Meghana Mantha
Fat stigmatization is the devaluing of an individual due to excess body weight. Research has indicated that overweight and obese children, adolescents, and adults are often negatively stereotyped, treated differently, and face discrimination in their social environments. Excess body weight tends to correlate with negative thoughts and can lead to worsened mental health, due to societal standards and treatment.
Fat shaming is extremely common in the movie industry. Cultural beliefs and superstitions are also a major factor which shape people’s opinions on oversized people. Especially in movies, when you see a fat person, you may generally assume that he or she might be playing the funny character or the antagonist. Regardless of a fat actor or character’s role, the character is likely to experience shaming for their weight and health. Females especially may develop insecurities about their body, size, and color. This notion of mistreating overweight people has turned into a normal routine. In a content analysis of children's popular movies, 72% of the characters with thin bodies had desirable traits, such as kindness or happiness.
Here are few examples of fat-shaming incidents in movies analyzed by few writers and news articles.
"Fat Amy." Amy's character plays into a stereotype in order to compensate for her fatness. When we first meet Fat Amy, the Barden Bellas don't want to give her a shot because she is viewed as overweight and to them, it would look humiliating to keep an obese girl in a team of 'beautiful' singers and dancers.
In the movie “Heavy Weights,” overweight kids are sent to Camp Hope by fat-shaming adults who hope their kids will return from the summer as the skinny ones they envisioned them to be. On the show, the kids are negatively portrayed as food-obsessed and socially inhibited.
Another film, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, includes a mother who becomes a recluse after she gains weight from depression. She refuses to leave the house because she fears her neighbors would make fun of her, saying disrespectful comments like she "breaks the house" under her weight. After her death, her children burn her body in their childhood home to save her the embarrassment of being mocked for her weight.
There are many other examples where actors and actresses had the experience of body shaming in some parts of their life, which has only increased due to social media. Luckily this mindset is slowly shifting and overweight people aren’t associated with undesirable traits and are not always considered to be the laughingstocks and scapegoats of the film. Nowadays, more people are promoting body positivity and respecting people's lives and the choices they make. Our world is starting to understand that nobody should be judged or labeled because of their weight; everybody is beautiful in their own way and every soul within it should be treated with equal respect. As we look towards the future, the youth must continue to advocate for the abolishment of such unrealistic and toxic beauty standards. Everyone should feel validated and comfortable in their own skin.
I am Meghana Mantha from India. I am in Grade 12. Graduating in Mathematics, Economics and Business. I am an avid reader, writer, poet and photography enthusiast. I love traveling and adventures. I am super excited to be part of KID and make a positive impact in our society.