Pop-Culture | Posted by Carmen R on 07/29/2010

Huge and Feminist Stereotypes

Yet again, the media continues to fail with another horribly unrealistic feminist character. I was interested in the new series “Huge” and how this show would portray body image issues. However, when Willy, the main character, declared herself an “angry feminist” in the most recent episode, I became more distracted with this. Willy is an overall arrogant and obnoxious character. She is cold and makes more enemies than friends. She is mistaken for a lesbian. She is the most irrational and unreasonable character on the show.  She has some good points to make, but does so in a completely absurd manner (ex: pasting photos of real women and calling it “fatspiration”)

While there are many types of feminists, I do not understand this stereotypical feminist. I have yet to meet a bra-burning, hairy monster in the feminist movement. In fact, I know many feminists who defy the stereotype, including people who are religiously observant, sorority girls, and male feminists to name a few. However, the media and entertainment industry continue to show feminists as mean girls/women who will never provide a rational voice in society. Through this negative portrayal of feminism, audiences become accustomed to feminism as something they could never relate to.

For me, feminism has always been a positive experience. Feminism became a huge turning point in my life. I am no longer that miserable teenage girl wishing to fit in and become skinny. Once the media captures feminism in this type of positive light, more teenagers will want to join in. Until then, we’ll have to keep fighting this stereotype by being the best feminists we can be.

P.S.  Huge isn’t over… there is time for the media to redeem itself, but don’t hold your breath :)

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  • Heather @ at 11:38 am, July 29th, 2010

    I disagree: I think Will being portrayed is angry shows girls that it is OKAY to be angry. Women are so busy fighting this “stereotypical feminist” without questioning why it’s a bad thing to fit into that stereotype. When we say that someone defies that stereotype, are we saying it’s bad to be angry, to be a lesbian, to not shave? Because if so, that is not a feminism I want to be apart of.

    Feminism has also been a largely positive experience for me. I found feminism when I was 17 and am now almost 25. I have become happier, more confident, more aware, more open-minded, more vocal, because of feminism. But there are plenty of things feminism does wrong.

    Will’s anger, in the context of living in a fat-shaming world, is awesome. Not all feminists have to be activists or recruiters for this movement. Will is allowed to be angry, because society has told her that she is wrong for being a woman with opinions, for being fat, for defying gender roles (since she doesn’t dress feminine at all). I don’t think we should have to dress feminists up to be pretty and feminine and opening every person who wants to be apart of this movement solely to gain new ‘followers’ or whathaveyou. We are angry, we should be angry, and there is nothing wrong with that.

  • Brenna @ at 12:20 pm, July 29th, 2010

    I completely agree with Heather. While Will is very unreasonable at times, I think that has to do more with her personality than her feminism. I loved it when she declared herself an “angry feminist.” If I had to go to a camp like that because everybody told me my body was not good enough, I would be pissed off, too.

  • Haley @ at 1:41 pm, July 29th, 2010

    Nice post, Carmen! I agree with you 100%

  • Genevieve @ at 2:04 pm, July 29th, 2010

    I agree with Heather and Brenna–first of all, Will has only mentioned that she was a feminist once, and I thought that was a very awesome moment. I like that she’s not perfect and that she overreacts to some things–that’s what teenagers do. She’s made friends with Ian and Becca, and I doubt she’d've been close to some of the other girls no matter how she acted–she has nothing in common with them. Her “fatspiration” pictures were not of “real women” as far as I could tell (how are you defining “real,” anyway? Because someone who weighs 100 pounds is just as “real” as someone who weighs 130 or 180 or 250, they just happen to be smaller)…they were images from classical art, which typically did portray more full-figured women as being beautiful. It’s a way for her to keep up her self-esteem in an environment in which everyone else is so intensely focused on losing weight. And her pictures are only in response to Amber’s ridiculous “thinspiration,” an idea the show adapted from pro-anorexia websites.

    I’d say that the creators of the show have portrayed Will’s feminism as being positive for her–while she may not be happy all of the time, feminism has given her a way to be herself and not succumb to the pressures put on her by her parents and everyone else. And being okay with being herself while everyone around her is wanting to lose weight, be thin, and date the pretty blond girl has got to be difficult when you’re–what–sixteen? Her anger makes sense.

  • Emilie @ at 10:52 pm, July 29th, 2010

    I am curious as to why, when you mentioned Willy’s “fatspiration” you described her pictures as of “real women.” There is no “real” body for all women, and suggesting that there is is insulting to people of all body types, not to mention trans women.

    Also, not all media portrays feminists as scary man haters: Leila from Futurama joins a group of eco-feminists in the movie “Into the Wild Green Yonder.” I haven’t watched the entire series, but I know from what I have watched that Leila is a character worth looking up to: she’s kind, a hard worker, tough when she needs to be, and a great friend.

  • G @ at 12:01 pm, July 30th, 2010

    I’m curious about the “real women” comment as well. That, to me, is implying that there is only one ideal body shape for women, which is definitely not the case.

    Another thing I’m curious about is the idea that society is anti-fat. While this is true to a certain extent, the fact of the matter is that being fat is often times unhealthy. There are beautiful women of all sizes, and there are healthy women of all sizes, too. But shows like this encourage people to be fat. People need to focus on being healthy, and not how much they weigh. Any body type is good, as long as one is taking care of themselves and living a healthy lifestyle. If not, there’s more dangers than just being shamed from society.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 4:09 pm, July 30th, 2010

    Oh I am a huge Futurama and I love Leela although that movie Into the Wild Green Yonder played eco-feminists poorly. Not all of them are fond of pink, neither am I.

  • LowSlash @ at 5:12 pm, July 30th, 2010

    @G The show doesn’t encourage people to be fat, it encourages people to look past their weight to see the value in themselves, and that IS healthy.

    Also, I don’t think it’s fair to say that fat is often times unhealthy. It can be, for sure, but there are many people (some of my friends included) who eat terribly and don’t work out often, but manage to maintain a “healthy” body weight due to a high metabolism. You can have clogged arteries and still be slim, and you can work out regularly and eat well and still be fat.

  • GlenCoco @ at 9:27 pm, July 30th, 2010

    I think Will is an amazing TV character, because she’s unafraid to be strong and confident and to have opinions that differ from the norm, even though she’s both female and fat. True, she can be cold at times, but remembering that she’s being forced to attend a camp that goes against everything she believes in, her attitude seems understandable. Besides that, never once does she say anything that makes feminism seem bad (ie, that she hates men), so I don’t think she’s portraying feminism in a negative light at all. (Also, what’s wrong with “fatspiration”? I put picture of plus-size and average-size models on my walls because I think it’s a lot healthier than surrounding myself with unrealistic body types.)

  • Miss Leigh @ at 6:15 pm, July 31st, 2010

    Awesome post!

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