By Gillian Lintz
While not perfect, society has made leaps and bounds in the progression of body positivity and acceptance. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry has not exactly caught up yet.
Most of the stars we see today, whether on TV screens, in movie theaters or on Broadway, seem to wear under a size 8, despite the fact that almost 70% of U.S. women wear a size 14 and up. Children are growing up with an unrealistic idea of what the “right” body looks like, damaging their body image.
Talented actresses such as Rebel Wilson and Ryann Redmond are constantly pigeon-holed into roles involving body shape and size, when in reality, their bodies are nothing out of the ordinary.
Almost everyone with a TV or internet access is familiar with Australian actress Rebel Wilson. Her more notable roles include Fat Amy in the “Pitch Perfect” franchise and Becky in “Bachelorette.” It is safe to say Wilson has a knack for comedy.
Closer examination of her films will reveal a common theme: her weight. Wilson’s character calls herself Fat Amy in “Pitch Perfect” to keep other girls from insulting her. Her weight is a huge factor in her character’s story and the root of much of the comedy in the film.
Similarly, her character in “Bachelorette,” Becky, is also closely associated with her weight. Her friend, played by Kirsten Dunst, becomes jealous because Becky, the “fat friend,” is getting married first.
Rebel Wilson is a brilliantly talented actress with a strong suit for comedies. I would love to see her in a film that has no reference to her weight or body shape. If Hollywood can put a man on the moon, they can find new comedic approaches.
On the complete opposite side of the U.S., Broadway stars face the same discrimination. Dance calls are filled with petite women, making anyone who can’t fit into a size 4 feel out of place, despite talent level. Many casting directors prefer not just height, but weight to also be listed on resumes.
Broadway actress Ryann Redmond is a prime example of type-casting in the industry based on body size. Redmond made her Broadway debut as Bridget in “Bring It On: The Musical.” This character’s story relies heavily on her weight and size. She also performed in “Gigantic,” an off-Broadway musical about a weight-loss camp, played Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray,” and is most recently on stage as Olaf in “Frozen.”
All of these roles either directly or indirectly involve weight and body shape. While Ryann Redmond is a phenomenal performer, we may only ever see her in comedic, weight-relying roles, unless the industry changes.
Many actresses have great potential but are boxed in by the entertainment industry’s opinion on weight and body size.
Actresses like Rebel Wilson and Ryann Redmond deserve casting decisions based on their abilities and personalities, not something that highlights what Hollywood finds comedic or doesn’t like. The normalization and inclusivity of all body types in entertainment are essential in society’s progression. It is time for the entertainment industry to eliminate the “fat friend” stereotype and allow actresses to be more than their size.
Gillian Lintz is a sohpomore musical theatre major from Huntington, Indiana.