It isn’t everyday that one can turn on the television or walk into a movie theater and see their likeness immersed in a moving picture.

Unless of course one fits the stereotypical definition of Hollywood’s perfect leading lady:  tall, thin, buxom, longhaired Barbie doll type. Be it a Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, a Jennifer Lopez or a Jennifer Aniston. All similarly shaped, none are a complete reflection of the entire American population.

Queen Latfiah’s new movie “Just Wright” opening in theaters this Friday marks the first time to my knowledge, (please, correct me if I’m wrong), that a romantic story, dripping with normalcy has been built around a plus size character. In the film Leslie Wright played by Queen Latifiah, is a physical therapist who falls for her client, a NBA star named Scott McKnight played by rapper Common.

“My motivation to create “Just Wright,” was [about] wanting to create a movie where the woman who got the guy, wasn’t a size zero,” screenwriter Michael Elliot told CLUTCH. “I felt we needed to have a movie where a character that represented the beauty that I see in most women gets the guy, and does so without changing.”

Before “Just Wright,” Hollywood’s depiction of the overweight African American character was a rather ghetto, loud, and obnoxious depiction like Natalie Deselle Reid’s character in “B.A.P.S”. or “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.” Viewers are likely not to see plus size actresses unless they’re hidden in a less desirable ensemble role.

These characters are often nothing short of exhibiting buffoonery, perpetuating negative stereotypes, or the crux of the storyline is that of an ugly duckling tale in which the overweight heroine encounters a myriad of obstacles, yet is lucky enough to get the guy before the rolling credits.

Last year, we saw Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique jump into “Precious” and receive critical acclaim for their performances. But not without a cloud of negative commentary for both Sidibe’s weight and  Mo’Nique’s Academy Award for playing a ghetto abusive mother.

On another note: It is almost normal for audiences to believe that Sidibe’s character in “Precious” is more fact than fiction when compared to her real life personality. This is partly because entertainment continues to push the myth through unsavory roles for overweight characters that extra weight is naturally coupled with depression, undesirability, rejection, and drama.

I don’t fault actors for stepping into these roles– working is a necessity for survival. What I question however, is why more screenwriters aren’t taking Elliot’s route– creating a film that speaks to an unacknowledged audience and portrays a character that reflects ones’ normal way of living.

Although Latifah has played in films where she’s held top billing and the element of love was there, none of the roles are as realistic as her character Leslie Wright. We can consider “Last Holiday”–the story was cute and enjoyable to watch, still, it wasn’t without the ugly duckling back story mirrored up to a terminal illness, exhibiting more fantasy than fact in typical Hollywood fashion.

With 33% of the American population being overweight, many of us wonder if it is too hard for Hollywood executives to believe when it comes to everyday living, even with a little extra weight, the plus size woman’s story is still the same as their smaller counterparts. Without argument, they deserve the same respect and attention in their storyline as a “Brown Sugar” or a “Jason’s Lyric.”

Hopefully with the introduction of “Just Wright” and with Tyler Perry’s creation of characters like Jill Scott’s Sheila in “Why Did I Get Married,” the depiction of overweight characters will level out into supplying audiences with an equal visual representation.

So how will the public receive a film that finally measures up to reality? Is the fear of exhibiting excellence in roles for plus size characters about a desire not to seemingly promote obesity? Is leaving out an everyday story a way to make audiences want to change their appearance?

What do you think Clutchettes and Gents?

Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • binky

    @So crazy

    I agree! We need to watch how we define “plus size” Like somone said, to me Queen Latifah, Gabby and Mo’nique shouldn’t even be grouped together under that brand. Sorry but there is a difference between plus size and just being plain overweight or obese. Sorry, but it just is. I was overweight but I use to sugar coat it and hide behind terms like thick or just plus size when the fact was I was tipping the scales near obesity, so I check myself and did research on what “true” plus size women look like and began my journey of weight lost from there.To me, plus size is somone like Queen Latifah, Crystal Renn, Mo’nique *after her weight lost*, toccara, jennifer hudson and like someone said the models for lane bryant. Sorry but Gabby doesn’t fit the bill she is obese. Plus size is someone that is a bit bigger than the average woman but slightly and a bit fuller and curver BUT still healthy with no huge gut, rolls or whatever. So I agree with So Crazy, we are doing a disservice to young girls and women by grouping women together and calling them “plus size” “thick” or “big” when most don’t fit that bill

    Do I think Hollywood is ready for a leading lady that is bigger than the average women in hollywood….yes I do. However, we must also look at the context of the roles. Sorry, but one of the main reasons Gabby got the role was because she fit the look of the character as precious even with her great talent aside, and before Mo’nique lost weight, her movies use to be based around her weight in a typecast manner as well. The only person that did the opposite with her career was Queen Latifah which is why she is in the forefront of this debate because her roles usually isn’t typecast around her weight making people go and see her movies. I think people are ready for a more diverse look of leading ladies of any shape, size and race if the audience is open and ready for it but it all depends on the movie itself and the script. I would love to see Gabby in another movie, but I would want to see it where her weight isn’t a main point or a subpoint of it like it did with Precious.

  • Weight discrimination is the last form of accepted discrimination. It shouldn’t matter if your white, black, gay, jewish, or fat. It should be about your gifts, abilities, and talents. Just a a couple 100 years ago fat girls were in. Curves in their wives meant powerful Kings and Princes. Funny how the world turns…

  • chinaza

    The ideal Hollywood lead would never be black or latina so only Aniston qualifies as a stereotype.
    I also don’t see Queen Latifah as the ordinary plus-sized woman.I don’t even see her as plus-sized in the real sense of the word.Latifah’s beauty and presence; her confidence and multifaceted talent place her beyond the scope of most actresses regardless of color or size.Too many young,black actresses fall into a stereotype of vacuous,ghetto/hip hop stereotypes or glossed-up dolls.These are not the big sisters and in fact,many of the slim/trim,pretty faces have not gone far in their careers.
    People like Monique,Gaby,Jenifer Hudson and Latifah have broken the barriers because they didn’t wait for Hollywood to be ready for them.They were ready for Hollywood.

  • charlie

    We as women as a whole should understand the pressures of being a woman and how it effects us each and every day on how to look, feel, dress, and care better. As, if we all have an extra gene called superwoman laying dormant, waiting to explode it’s daring will power to the world when we wake up everyday. I find this quite funny that people who have never been fat or lets say “obese” can truly not understand how it is to be “not normal”. To have everyone look at you slightly differently than a person who is not obese. To see the look of disgust on some people’s faces when they see you walk by or when a man come to you and screams “big mama! I see you”

    Personally, ive been on both sides of the fence when we speak about the size of a woman. Ive been fat or shall we say obese; and Ive been very “fit” or shall I say lean. I have went from fat to fit in 2 years with determination to not be unhealthy and I was having health issues due to obesity.

    Being fat I was fine with it. I loved who I was as a person. I as a person loved who I am and beleived that I am beautiful and talented no matter how big I was. I became naive to the obvious factors of people not liking me because of my self confidence and my weight. I was intimidation to some. When people saw me they didnt see the athlete that was determining to become an olympic shot put and discus thrower. A person who loved to hike or run a mile. They just saw my heftiness and assumed that I was a couch potato and a sloth. Which was complete opposite.

    Yes, I did have insecure moments when I went from a size 18 to a “gasps” size 22. I felt like the elephant in the room. No matter how much make up I caked on I was never the chic who felt elegant anymore. I felt regular. i actually felt FAT! I covered my beauty up with excuses of im not thin enough or I dont look good enough. I felt the eyes of people having smyphaty on me when my belly shakes from laughing too much or grooving to music. I felt me not getting recongized by men because of my shape of my body; where the land of thin is promoted which is La La Land (los angeles). I felt If I could be prettier or if I was a bit more meek and submissive I couldve snagged him. Or If I was a bit homely looking he would have more mercy on me and talk to me. Desparate thoughts raced through my mind and i didnt realize that the issue relied slowly on the girth of my belly, the roundness of my face, my bulging biceps, my thick (friction filled) thighs, and my breasts bigger than the state of Texas. I forgot to love myself in the end.

    When people say ” Im concerned for the bigger women” or “i really do care”. Please stop the bullshit. You really dont care. I didnt need anyone to emphatize with me. i didnt need someone who has never been in my shoes to tell me to get it together because I need too for health reason. i needed myself to help ME again. I needed to LOVE ME again. No matter what size I was. I needed to go back to LOVING who I was and who i am currently. I NEEDED TO LOVE ME! Ive seen myself in the mirror and say the extra bulge on my stomach and wondered “what if”. Thoughts of lipo, gastric,lap band, medical pills, diet solution, and etc; just to be desired again. Being Fat isnt fun. It isnt something to be desired when youre not considered normal. When youre outcasted for your size and everyone laughs. Cause it’s funny to be fat. Youre the punching bag for society. Mean words do effect people and when you see someone loving themselves misery always have to hit them in the gut with a bat to remind them that they arent supposed to be happy, confident,well-dressed,sexy,sutiable for a mate, and etc. So, please stop with the faux pase intent of helping because I know you dont care and it’s really moreso for the front.

    I currently am “healthy” and “fit” (size 10 now). It is a forgein place to be. To be normal and be see just like everyone else. As if I am in this elite group of normal size people who is supposed to look down on others who isnt as small as I am. Not all skinny people are evil but Not all people should give judgement on other because the situation can become worse. I encourage people to love who they are not matter what size because they might have a light blub spark in their head like I and change for the betterment for themsleves;not the pressure of others or society. I LOVE ME. No one can take verbal, emotional, even physcial abuse like a fat person can. I can tell you how people ridicule fat people ( like I once was before) without a mear thought of ” I could be really making their lives much worse” infront of me. I actually left a date on how he talked very badly about an obese woman. I do not approve of nor accept ridicule and judgement of others unless youve been marchin in their boots with a badge to prove it!

    All in all. Everyone has bones in their closets that they dont want to be pull. Other cant hide their bones and they have to wake up everyday and face judgement.

    Yes! they can lose the weight but how can you when youre downright fucking depressed to where youre only fuckin best friend is FOOD. Catch 22 huh?

    Let the people who seem confident in their skin breathe! Let them feel like it’s alright to be who they are as a person and one day they might say “fuck it! I love me and that’s alright” or ” I need to change how I look because I, personally, DO NOT FEEL comfortable”.

  • Zaza

    If you mean plus size in the sense of the actress who was in My Big Fat Greek Wedding,or Queen Latifah,yes.If you mean it in the sense of hugely obese Gabby;no,unless it’s a comic role,like skinny white guy paired with huge black girl,but in
    sinncere romance/romcom films with lead actors like Will Smith,G
    erard Butler?NO.