Wednesday, June 30, 2010

HUGE and ABC Family's Concept of Self-Esteem

ABC Family recently debuted its new comedic-drama Huge, starring Nikki Blonsky. The show’s tagline is “Love Huge, Think Huge, Act Huge” with the addendum that “living a healthy life means having healthy self-esteem too!” First, kudos to ABC Family for featuring a cast of actors who do not resemble the typical Hollywood figure; I’m not entirely sure about the motives, but we’ll get back to that. Further, the tagline with its reference to self-esteem is a nice sentiment, but I don’t really believe the show’s execs and marketing team actually buy it…or get it.

Let’s take a look at this image, which ABC Family is using to promote the show. It features the main character Willamena Rader, played by Blonsky. This character looks like her self-esteem could use a “huge” boost, as she attempts to hide herself and minimize her body. If the show is really focused on promoting self-confidence and a healthy sense of self, regardless of size, this image indicates that such a concept might not be attainable for an overweight girl in a bathing suit. Hmmm.

I also wonder about the casting choice and Blonsky’s role in the show. It’s great that she receives offers to work, and as an actress, I suppose you take the best roles offered to you. However, it seems that her career is built on playing the fat girl (think Hairspray and TV movie Queen Sized), making her weight the most defining component of her identity.

I’m definitely feeling conflicted about the show and question how inclusive and representative it is to cast a number of overweight actors on a show that is focused on their weight and size. What’s your take?

1 comment:

  1. I agree Kate, that larger actors are often typecast into playing the "fat" person. As if their weight has to be the "defining component" of their life.

    I worry the same thing will happen to Gabby Sidibe from Precious.