Gwen Stefani just gave an interview to Marie Claire saying that she’s “not worried about working out anymore.” Specifically, she says:
‘This past year, I kind of stopped working out. I think my body just needed a break. And so I did that and focused more on feeling good as opposed to beating myself up.’
And I thought to myself, well, that can’t be right, if Gwen Stefani gains weight tabloids will rip her apart, and it will damage her career. And there are hardly any women who are overweight in the public eye in a positive way! For years we’ve been watching skinny women with slightly overweight husbands on any sitcom. Sam wrote a great piece a while ago about Little Women and Heavy Husbands and one of the overriding messages is that men (if they’re talented, and funny, or otherwise admirable in some way) can have any body type they want while women (even if they’re funny and talented in every other way) have to be skinny if they want to be in the public eye.
But then I realize that, great news, I was wrong.
The most popular television shows right now seem to feature women who aren’t that skinny. Or, at least women who do not have abs you could wash your laundry on, if you were into some sort of weird pioneer role-playing thing. Look at Girls. Even better, look at The Mindy Project.
One of the reasons I love The Mindy Project so much is that very, very little of the plot seems to be driven by her body type. Really, there are only infinitesimally more references to her body type than there are with any show regarding a female character. And it doesn’t drive the plot! Mindy has relationships with good looking men, and excels at her job, and messes up, but in ways similar to the way she would mess up if she looked like a supermodel.
On Girls, one of the recurring themes is that while Hannah’s body bothers her a lot, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. It certainly doesn’t impede her from getting a boyfriend or getting laid, and her inability to get a job seems like a function of many things which have nothing to do with her weight. If she’s irritating, no one thinks it’s because her thighs are too big.
And most importantly – both of those characters are the protagonists. They’re not the best friend, Ethel Mertz stand-in who is there to provide comic relief in part because she is a bit heavier.