Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why Pick on the Fat Girl?

Having just seen a movie with a fat girl as a supporting actress who plays a sterotypical fat girl (on a diet, trying to get into a smaller bridesmaids dress, manages to, until she sits down and splits the dress), I have to ask, why does the fat girl always get the short straw? If Star Trek had two expendable people on an away team, and one was a fat girl, the fat girl would die first, in a horrible and possibly funny fashion. The fat girl never wins.

Take Criminal Minds, one of my favorite TV shows. Penelope Garcia, played by actress Kirsten Vangsness, is not a tiny little thing. She's also not Rosanne Barr. She's average height and somewhat statuesque - a lovely woman, actually. Kirsten herself is not exactly a mainstream fashionista, but rather goes for "clothes that make her happy". She's got her own sense of style and self, and she has overcome adolescent shyness to be an actress I admire. Bravo. Her character, Garcia is the cyber-wiz of the FBI criminal profiling unit. She's a genius with a computer, and comes across as bold, witty and fun. Her blonde hair sometimes involves pink streaks. I wish I could be so bold. She'd be a hoot to party with.

Garcia has a great relationship with another character, Derek. (And both actors are friends off-set, as well) They flirt, they laugh, you kind of get the sense of maybe she has a crush on him, that maybe it might go somewhere some day. You never saw an insecure side to this girl. Until last fall. An episode started out with Garcia in a coffee shop, where a hot guy is having computer problems. She helps him out, he kind of hits on her and asks her if he can buy her dinner to say thanks. And I thought, hey, cool! She tells her buddy Derek, and he's cautious, rains on her parade, and she snaps on him. Kind of lays it out - "dude, you flirt with me, and don't do anything about it. I'm not the kind of girl that this usually happens to, so back off and let me have a moment, he's just saying thank you, but leave me to enjoy it". And I thought, you go girl! Show Derek what he's missing! This could be the start of something beyond friendship.

About half-way through the episode, I started thinking, uh oh. Something's hinky. This guy isn't what he seems. But, Garcia goes out with Hot Coffee Guy, he buys her dinner, walks her to her front step, gives her a kiss good night. He starts to walk away, turns around, and shoots her. WTF?? Why can't the fat girl get a break? Ya know, I don't even think this woman is in the plus sizes, she's just not a size 2. So why is it that she gets set up with the psycho? One of the skinny chicks on the show could have had a bad date. Why do they take a strong girl, who up until this episode has been happy with herself, and turn it around so that, if she hadn't been so desperate to believe that a hot guy could go for a chick like her, she wouldn't have been so blind about this guy and wouldn't be in the hospital fighting for her life. Now, the reasons for this all do with story line, but it bothers me that they played on insecuries that, up to this episode, had been non-existent.

It gets worse. The guy who takes over for Garcia while she's recovering is this completely nerdy geek, sort of cute around the edges but so utterly goofy he belongs on reality TV. And I though, oh, no. I'm gonna be some pissed off if she comes back to this guy in her computer lab AND FALLS FOR HIM. Guess what? Yup. So, the fat chick gets the nerd with the pocket protector. Not only falls for the guy, but becomes more stupidly moony over this guy than any other character in love on any other TV show I've seen.

Hey, I get that Brad Pitt isn't going to call any time soon. I also understand that I'm not exactly pin-up fantasy material. Frankly, I don't usually date pin-up fantasy material, either. But to imply that a hot guy can't find a chubby girl attractive is utter crap. I guess I'm just disappointed that one of my favorite shows fell into the fat girl stereotype. Shame!

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