Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Drop Dead Diva

I am a big girl.  While the issue of my maturity may be up for debate, my use of the word “big” refers to the fact that I can shop in the “plus size” department.  My whole life I have thought I was fat and until recently, it has always bothered me.  I was going through some pictures from high school and I was skinny!  Not the supermodel skinny, but you could see bones, my cheeks had definition (the ones on my face at least), and there was no jelly belly.  It was then I realized that I had let people make me think I was fat for so long when it was false and so I was no longer going to believe what others thought of me because they are obviously wrong. 

I take SERIOUS issue with the way women and body images are portrayed in the media.  Then along came Drop Dead Diva. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the show a cute, skinny blond model/actress and frumpy, plus size attorney die at the same moment.  Cute skinny blond model does not think its fair and she hits the return button and is sent back to the body of the frumpy, plus size attorney.  So I was super happy because it is a show about a successful, plus sized attorney aka hopefully me someday.  However, the more episodes, I watched, I started getting upset. 

Sidebar - I may be reading too much into it, but that is what I do, overanalyze, kind of my trademark.  Just watch TV with me, I can find some kind of soap box to stand on with any commercial, TV show, or movie – objectification of women (mainly), minimizing role of father/parent, glamorization of wrong doing, I could go on. 

First issue, we have this frumpy, plus sized attorney, because if you are plus sized you cannot possibly be fun and cute.  If ever you have shopped in the plus size department, you totally know what I mean.  I may have “fluff”, but I still have curves and I am very proud of them and would like to accentuate them and not hide them under some kind of drab moo-moo type thing.  I’m super disappointed when I find a cute selection of “regular” clothes and  puke for plus size.  Who is your buyer?  And what is there philosophy only skinny girls like cute clothes or is it if we are fat we must somehow want to hide it by wearing an ugly moo-moo type thing that screams I’m fat and I’m trying to hide it.  I mean really people.   Granted there are some stores that have a decent plus size selection, but generally speaking the fashion world has a way to go yet when it comes to plus sized women.

Second issue, we have frumpy, plus sized attorney who is now possessed by cute, skinny blond model.  The cute, skinny blond model of course re-vamps the wardrobe and makeup of drab, frumpy plus size attorney, and she becomes fun, cute, and fashion conscious.  Fabulous, I love fun, cute, plus sized women who flaunt what God gave them and then some.  However, the only way for this frumpy, plus sized attorney to be fun and cute was if in reality she really was a skinny girl in a fat girl’s body.  The self-confidence did not come from the fact that frumpy plus size attorney came to grips with her issues about her body and said, “Screw it I’m fun and cute regardless of the number on the tag in my clothes or what the media tells me and others I should look like” but because she was possessed by the spirit of a skinny model. 

So the elation I felt at a fat woman getting props on TV was replaced by the same message, albeit a different medium.  The show says to me that you can only be fun and cute if you are skinny or possessed by a skinny person.  I still watch the show and maybe I should start keeping a notebook tracking my issues or maybe I should stop watching it altogether, but I keep hoping that something positive about plus size comes out of it.  And you thought TV watching was a passive activity.  I’m telling you this brain, NEVER turns off.

Additionally, not only do they portray plus sized women in a bad light, the skinny ones don not get a break either.  The cute, skinny blond models are portrayed as ditzy and not very smart.  The only brains the cute, skinny blond has are because she retained the knowledge of the frumpy, plus sized attorney.  But really people?  I mean seriously.  What does body size have to do with brain power?  Maybe I will delve more into those issues in another post. 

In summation, what Drop Dead Diva tells me is that if you are fat you are frumpy and if you are cute and skinny you are dumb.

Then of course, during the show there are commercials for weigh loss programs and the like.  Although I DVR the show to watch later, I nearly always forget to fast forward through the commercials, you must forgive me, I am new to this whole recording TV thing.  However, there is a Jenny Craig commercial that shows sad, frumpy fat girl who loses weight with Jenny Craig and is transformed into happy, cute girl in skinny jeans.  This sends the wrong message.  Happiness comes from inside, trust me I know.  You can change your hair, your clothes, your size, but those superficial changes do not change what is on the inside.  If you are not happy with who you are, then no matter what size you are you will never be content.  If you have put on some weight and have lost your confidence, it begs the question of whether you really had it to begin with. 

I am not by any means trying to lose weight, but just be healthier and a consequence to that is I have lost some weight.  I am tired of people saying, are you losing weight, you look so good!  So I didn’t look good before?  Hence the reason I have stopped caring about what others think about me.  I am stinking cute, fun, and smart and if you think otherwise, well I will tell you where you can go…

I loved being in Guatemala because I was “hermosa” or beautiful.  The natives would grab my chunky arms, pat my round belly, and say look at this hermosura (beauty, loveliness).  Why was I beautiful?  Because I was plump or, using a new word, zaftig (meaning full bodied; well proportioned – it comes from a Yiddish word meaning juicy).  Yeah, that is me, I am not fat, I am juicy.   

I think we need to stop focusing so much on the outer part of beauty, because the reality of it is I know some very ugly pretty people (granted I know some very ugly, ugly people too).  Beauty goes far beyond what is on the outside and it seems that a world that wants you just to be judged on the outside is because they do not have a lot on the inside.  Regardless, who you are is not just what you see in the mirror and I would even go as far to say that what you see is also tainted by your perception of how others see you.  For years, I thought I was fat and you can see for yourself, do you see the “fat” girl?  The mirror is not a very good place to go looking if you want to know how you “look”.  


Jeff said...

I agree, I think the media has portrayed that there is only one acceptable image for women. I think women can be beautiful in all shapes and sizes.

I also think it's funny that the "ideal" woman has kind of a boyish figure. When did it become cool for girls to look like little boys?

I've never seen that show, but it sounds like it has a lot of prejudices.

Josie said...

Great post. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately.

My health plummeted and my weight went up substantially when I had all the pregnancy issues with Dave. I want to lose weight for health sake but have a fear holding me back that people will like me more if I do...and that's not what I want. Stupid to have a fear about a good thing but I understand what you mean about wanting to be happy and thrilled with who you are while also wanting to be more healthy. It's a weird balance.

That being said.....

Nat said...

Oh man, Josie- Now that song is stuck in my head... Thanks...

Melissa- You are freaking awesome. Your insights are great. Good job on the goal to become more healthy, I think we could all work on that- us fluff and even a lot of the skinny ones too! I am totally with you on the ugly cute people thing... Personality can totally make someone ugly regardless of their size. Your personality, on the other hand, is so fabulous. Stay fun, if not fluffy! :)