There's one thing
you can say about the UPN television network (by vote of the people,
the "real" black entertainment network.) They've got fat chicks.
I don't say that disparagingly. UPN and
WB network shows like Moesha, The Parkers, The Wayans
Brothers and so forth only acknowledge the patently obvious - that
there's lots of dudes out there that like big women. (If you feel the
need to argue this point, just hop on the Internet where there's 3 "Big
Momma" sites for every book sold by Amazon.) And UPN has more than
just big women, it has, if you pardon my use of the vernacular, "fine"
big women. Big women with big hooters. Big women with big behinds. Big
women who know they're fine and aren't afraid to act sexy (and are backed
by a network that isn't afraid to let them.)
But is it just a
black thing? Lord knows, if you look for size 12's on the white channels,
it's slim pickins.' Most NBC shows such as Will and Grace or
Friends feature twigs walking around in blonde wigs and Guess
jeans while spouting rhetoric from the post-Seinfeld school of ironic
wit. The entire female cast of FOX's Beverly Hills 90210 comes
in at about 120 pounds. (You can throw in Ally Mcbeal to make
it an even 125.) Now that Roseanne's gone the only real standout from
any of the networks is that fat chick on The Practice*,
and she was such an anomaly that she got a book deal out of the whole
Is it a simple case
of white folk like 'em small and Black folk like 'em big?
I don't think so.
For one thing, if you peruse through your
collection of Playboys, circa 1968, you see a lot of large white
women. Not "fat" certainly, but with more flesh to them than
the toothpicks that float on fashion runways and populate the white
television networks. Betty Page, Jane Mansfield, or Marilyn Monroe clearly
weren't opposed to the occasional steak dinner. And look at the entire
cast of "The Facts of Life": not a scarecrow amongst them.
Obviously things weren't always the way they seem now.
And I'm not afraid
to admit that I (the whitest cracker around) like women with a little
meat on 'em. Not necessarily gigantic, mind you, but I think it's insane
that the name "Drew Barrymore" and the phrase "larger
sized woman" ever show up in the same paragraph. But the fashion
mags and sitcoms of this generation seem intent on convincing the young
women of the day that if they can't see their spinal column through
their belly they're not getting invited to the prom.
This seems more
a case of "the viagra chewing producers of Hollywood and bulimic
fashion editors of Manhattan like 'em small and the rest of us like
em... well, all sizes."
Not that this love
affair with the petite is only seen amongst the upper class. During
the whole Clinton scandal I had to listen to more them one drunken compatriot
at the neighborhood bar exclaim something like "I don't what Bill
Clinton ever saw in Monica Lewinsky. You'd never catch me with that
whale." (To which I'd usually reply, "You remember last Friday?
When you went home with a woman who looked like Monica Lewinsky's grandmother?")
And working class women always seem to throw out a line about their
nemesis's weight, right before they extend their claws and get on with
the hissing and biting.
will always be about appearance, there's no escaping that. But I do
think that the main networks, the fashion mags and the movie world are
all painting themselves into a corner with their obsession over rail
thing twiggified models. If you plot out on a graph the ever dwindling
weight quotient of female actresses you come to the conclusion that
in 2034 all TV comedies will feature talking skeletons. TV programmers
say "we only play what the people (the advertisers target audience)
ask for" but in this case I don't think that's true. For all long
time now, "the people" (read: beer guzzling, chip eating 35
year old white guys) have been saying "We want some variety man!
We want some reality. Instead of taunting us with spider women that
wouldn't look twice at us on the street, how about a few real-looking
gals that we'd actually stand a chance with at the local T.G.I.F.'s."
By the way, every
time I look at Calista Flockhart I want to throw up. (And apparently,
so does she.)
also Kathy Najimy from Veronica's Closet, but she's obviously
only there so Kirstie Alley won't feel like the "large one."