I’ve been thinking a lot about weight and media images lately, for a couple of reasons. One was seeing a magazine that had an article titled something like, “When Size 4 is Too Curvy”, and also seeing some articles about plus-size models – who are all of a size 12.
I’ve known that media images of women aren’t healthy for a long time (not that images of men necessarily are, either), but I didn’t always pay as close attention when I was heavier. I started to really notice it when I was losing weight, as I wrote in these couple of entries.
July 26, 2001
Well, I’ve finished reading the second of the Bridget Jones books…, and… I was rather depressed by Bridget being depressed at weighing 130, as that’s my goal – and I’m shorter than her character. Le sigh.
January 4, 2003
Then during lunch I finished Three To Get Deadly [one of the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich], which was, of course, amusing. But it bothers me in places in relation to weight and eating habits. For one, Stephanie Plum is 5’7”, around 130 pounds, and she seems to think she might need to lose weight. But then, looking at what she eats – primarily junk food and fast food – I fail to see how she could be 130, or complain about having a slow metabolism. I’m noting stuff like that more than ever these days, and it just bothers me at times, propagating media images of women.
But of course it’s most prevalent on TV. Last year, my friend David told me that the reason Deanna Troi’s character on Star Trek: The Next Generation initially wore that strange gray jumper was because she was too heavy for the regular uniforms! I wish I could say I didn’t believe it, but I did notice that her appearance changed later on, and I thought after she lost weight that she wasn’t as pretty, with her face looking more hollowed than rounded.
Which is also one of the reasons I’m depressed about the end of the most recent Joss Whedon series. That may sound strange, but in his two most recent TV ventures, Firefly and Dollhouse, he featured characters who looked like actual women. The actress who played Kaylee in Firefly purportedly gained 20 pounds for the role, and the actress who played Mellie in Dollhouse was quite curvaceous. What was wonderful about both roles is that they showed the women as being very desirable and attractive, as well as intelligent. Kaylee particularly was something of an engineering genius, and she ended up with the hot doctor.
With those shows gone, I’m hard-pressed to think of any current television series that shows women of a normal size in good roles. Admittedly, it’s hard to find good roles for women to begin with, but particularly ones who can give girls and other women some positive images of women with curves. I don’t know if any other series will fill that gap, but I hope that more young girls are realizing that stick-thin models aren’t necessarily the most attractive, or even the healthiest, and that being a size 4 (or smaller) is not the ultimate goal of life.