• Thu, Dec 6 2012

Worrying About Your Weight Is So 10 Years Ago

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.

mindy project

Look and rejoice!

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.

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  • Amanda

    You’re missing the point. Being thin is a positive thing for a reason. We need to start looking at the negative health effects of being overweight and not looking at this as a final freedom to be content with excess pounds. Staying within a healthy weight range (not too thin or overweight) and taking on healthy habits to maintain it is smart and it should be everyone’s goal in order to avoid health problems in the future. Just because our society has become more open to varying body types, does not mean that we should lose sight of the health benefits of staying fit.

    • Larissa

      There’s a difference between being healthy and fit, and being thin. I’m an athlete and a solid, you-can-bounce-a-quarter-off-my-ass size 8. I am, according to my doctors, in great health. But when I was an actress, that wasn’t considered thin enough by pretty much everyone. So while I agree with what you’re saying to a point, I think we’re talking about the positivity of straying from the media’s version of thin. Not everyone is supposed to be thin. It’s about being the healthiest version of your body type.

    • Amanda

      I understand where you’re coming from, being fit but not a size 2, but I guess what I am saying is that we should be focusing on and promoting being fit as a society. You can very much tell if someone is fit or not, regardless of their dress size in pictures and film. The title of this article suggests that worrying about your weight is a thing of the past, but it should be a constant as our society also shifts toward becoming healthier.

    • Breezy

      I guess I have a problem with designated what “should be everyone’s goal.” I think blankety prescribe life goals for all of mankind is an issue. A person’s level of fitness is between he or she and their physician.

      Also, you may think you can look at someone and tell whether or not they are healthy, but a lot of times you would be wrong. People have different metabolisms, different conditions, different lifestyles. Lots of research to back this up. Furthermore, a person’s health involves more than what they eat and do. Stress could kill you a lot quicker than a few extra pounds. Emotional health, environmental health, sexual health, and so on all factor in to a person’s overall well-being.

      So no, being thin is not a positive thing for a reason. It puts undue pressure (which, as mentioned, is unhealthy) on primarily women. Women who I believe should have the right to decide for themselves what healthy means to them and how they want to pursue it.

  • Jori

    Every year, since Americans have been expanding, an article comes out saying the same thing, so i wouldn’t hold my breath…..

  • Elle

    I watched the Mindy Project for the first time tonight and couldn’t help but noticing that they put her in some god awful outfits. It seems like they are trying to cover up every inch of her, and make her look extra frumpy-high waisted, high necked, totally unflattering clothing. Like she isn’t allowed to be sexy. I hardly call the Vanity Fair cover a success either. 3 women-2 in sexy clothing, seductive sex kittenish poses, front and center. Then you have Melissa, almost obscured in the background, wearing a ridiculous, baggy body covering outfit and screaming like the stereotypical “angry fat chick”. The world has a looooooooooong way to go

    • mary

      She is the main producer/writer of the show. I believe she has final say in what she wears and that is just how she chooses to dress

  • Kat

    I’m very heartened to see more roles for thick, plump and fat women. At the same time, America is currently in the grip of a relentless and dogmatic wave of fat-phobia, as witnessed by some of the comments below. And I think the author must have never watched Rosanne, which was an unbelievably progressive feminist show that was in no way “driven largely by making fun of the woman’s appearance.” I recommend watching the entire series.