Last month we talked about 15 common fatphobic media tropes. It's important to know how to spot harmful media representation so we can speak out against it and buffer ourselves from completely internalizing the dehumanizing messages these tropes are conveying.
Critique is as important as celebrating the moments when someone gets it right, and creates representation that is nuanced, dignified and innovative.
Positive representation of people in marginalized bodies matters because it creates space in our imaginations and in our culture for what the world can look like.
Celebration is what this week's 101 is all about.
Two new shows debuted this month - Archive 81 on Netflix and Peacemaker on HBO Max - portraying amazing actors with larger bodies - and their larger bodies are neither the butt of jokes nor the crux of their characters' plotlines.
In horror series Archive 81, actor Matt McGorry (who's been documenting his journey into fat positivity and fat embodiment on social media) plays podcaster Mark Higgins. He plays the best friend to main character, Dan Turner.
Typically larger-bodied men are portrayed on screen in a humiliating or invasive fashion, casting them as depraved, slovenly, evil, or inherently humorous. McGorry's character plays into zero of these tropes. His character is a supportive and caring friend to Dan, who's recovering a lot of spooky archival footage while also reckoning with early-life trauma.
Danielle Brooks plays Leota Adebayo in the new HBO Max show Peacemaker. Set in the DC universe, Brooks plays a queer bad-ass with a lot of action scenes.
Brooks shared in an interview that when she met with director, James Gunn, she explained that she'd never seen anyone who looked like her in the film adaptations of comic books. She said she had seen some characters who resembled her in the books themselves, but they were cast differently once those characters were adapted for the screen.
"It was really exciting for James to say, ‘I like you the way you are. I don’t want you to get all this training and try to lose 100 pounds’ or all this stuff. He didn’t try to make me fit into his world. He said, ‘You already fit.’ I really appreciated that," says Brooks.
Brooks told The Mary Sue, "I’ve always tried to manifest doing an action project, because I do feel like a big part of my driving force in this industry is changing the narrative of what leading ladies look like and what plus-size women are capable of doing."
Imagine if our media landscape portrayed the world as it actually exists? What if the shows, movies, and ads we saw accurately represented that 70% of people are plus-size, 26% of people have a disability, and that almost 50% of the population is made up of people of color?
It's important to know that though we can't single-handedly change the media landscape, we can curate our options and keep demanding characters like Leota and Dan.
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+ Take a look at my books: You Have the Right to Remain Fat (I narrated the audiobook), The Self-Love Revolution: Radical Body Positivity for Girls of Color, Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion