Being fat is hilarious – at least if you take Hollywood’s word for it. I mean, why would you take someone seriously if you could just laugh at their weight and joke about their food? (* Insert eye roll emoji here. *) For too long, Hollywood has treated obesity as a punchline, adding to fat phobia and anti-fat biases that have been shown to have harmful effects on our health. And a major entertainment trope that drives this narrative is the fat suit.
One of the most famous examples of the on-screen fat suit is Monica High School in friends Flashback episodes. Monica is best known for her obsessive Type A personality: she gets angry when the pillows are not properly fluffed and cannot sleep if she leaves her shoes on the living room floor instead of in the closet. Yet when the series looks back on the characters’ youthful selves, Monica suddenly becomes an insecure, daft girl in a thick suit obsessed with food. And, oh yes, no boys are interested in her either – although adult, skinny Monica has a very active sex life.
In flashback episodes and home videos, Fat Monica is often seen shoving her food in her mouth to make the audience laugh as if an obese person couldn’t even eat without being funny. Everyone laughs during Season 2’s “The One With the Prom Video” when Fat Monica is shown stuffing her face into her prom dress and Joey yells, “Some girl ate Monica!”
– SheKnows (@SheKnows) May 18, 2016
At other times, the characters relate to their oversized past in very negative ways, such as when Ross said in Season 8, “The One Where Rachel Tells …”, “I grew up with Monica. If you don’t eat fast, you don’t either.” Eaten. “Everyone laughs at these cues and Monica’s overeating, which is in direct contrast to another famous plot on the series – how Joey will eat anything, no matter how gross. The biggest difference? Nobody puts them to shame for their food because he’s not fat.
I am in love Friends, but when I see those flashback scenes with Monica in an extremely over-the-top fat suit, I shudder. This beautiful woman suddenly becomes a punch line where she is mocked for normal things (read: food) simply for being fat. She didn’t have many friends or a dating life until she lost weight because why would anyone want to be with someone who was fat?
Being a plus size woman myself, I’m fed up with the use of thick suits in conversation to turn an otherwise normal act into a big joke about weight. Bold suits make an actress or actor look weird and gross, with college-aged Schmidt New girl be another example. If you desperately need someone oversized to play a certain role on your TV show or movie, then hire an oversized actor instead, who shows that being overweight can still be healthy, beautiful and valid, and not one-dimensional in character, obsessed with food. In all fairness, it’s just not funny anymore (and, TBH, it never really was).
The good news is that more people are protesting the fat suit today. Instead of accepting it as a fun storyline, they call on actors and actresses who use the thick suit and producers who make that choice rather than hiring a plus-sized person who does this character justice.
These are the cinematic stereotypes of women that we should leave behind as soon as possible! https://t.co/q4819BmnGK
– SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 9, 2021
A recent example is Sarah Paulson, who wore a thick suit to get Linda Tripp in Impeachment: American Criminal History. After Paulson (rightly) came under fire for wearing a thick suit, Paulson told the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 26, “It’s very difficult for me to talk about it without feeling like I’m making excuses . There is a lot of controversy over actors and fat suits and I think that controversy is legitimate. I think fat phobia is real. I think doing something else will cause further damage. And it’s a very important conversation. But I don’t think all of that responsibility rests with the actor, who has decided on what – and I’m speaking from within – is the challenge of his life. ”Although she defended her decision to play Tripp in a thick suit she added that she “would not make the same choice in the future”.
Unfortunately, Courteney Cox doesn’t feel the same way when it comes to wearing a thick suit. She told Ellen DeGeneres in a May 2020 interview: “I loved playing overweight Monica because I felt so free. I could dance … like you and just sit up and dance and have no problem at all. I loved it. These are really good episodes. ”She is referring to” The One That Could Have Been “in season 6, where Fat Monica happily dances in her living room while she eats a donut.
Feeling self-confident and free in your skin is something that I can fully get behind me. I just wish friends and entertainment in general had more scenes showing things like that – with real plus-size people and no fat suits! – without making jokes that shame a body for simply existing. Hollywood can and should do better.
Before you go, click here to see “fat” characters in movies and TV shows who were never really fat.