TikTok is OUTRAGED by TV and films characters who are a normal size but called fat
Popular films and TV shows from the noughties are being called out by fans who are waking up the fact that female characters were presented as ‘fat’ despite being a perfectly normal body size.
The trend was highlighted in a viral TikTok video by user Marielle Greguski, from the US, entitled ‘early 00s fatphobia’. in which she pointed out that American Ferrera was portrated as the ‘fat, funny friend’ in her hit show Ugly Betty.
‘Anyone who grew up in the early thousands and have body image issues because of it, do you remember how we were made to believe she was fat?’ she asked.
Commenters were quick to share other examples. such as Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones Diary, who famously put on 30lbs to play the character.
According to the book, Bridget weighed 9st 10lbs which is nowehere near overweight for a woman of average height like Renee – who agreed in interviews that her character was a ‘perfectly normal’ weight.
Other examples included Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually whose character Natalie was told she had ‘thighs the size of big tree trunks’.
Here Femail takes a look at other movies and TV shows which have portrayed size 8-10 women as plus size.
America Ferrera as Carmen Lowell in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, 2005, and Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty, 2006
America Ferrera’s breakout role was Betty Suarez in the 2006 series Ugly Betty. One TikTok user revealed she was shocked to realize that she was made to believe Ferrera was fat, when she was far from it
America Ferrera’s breakout role was Betty Suarez in the 2006 series Ugly Betty.
Suarez, who gets a job at Mode, a trendy, high-fashion magazine in Manhattan, is portrayed as unattractive, wearing adult braces and baggy clothes.
While her appearance makes her the butt of the joke in the series, her weight is also referenced several times, implying that she is overweight.
Her co-workers point this out to Betty herself on several occasions, telling her ‘you need to loose a little weight’.
Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, which starred Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel and Ferrera also portrayed her as the ‘fat friend’ of the group.
The plot of the Sisterhood of the Trqvelling Pants is that a pair of magic jeans fit four friends, played from left to right by America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively
America Ferrera with Alexis Bledel in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Speaking of the way Ferrera has been represented throughout her career on her TikTok, Marielle Greguski said: ‘She was the DUFF, the fat funny friend’
Based on the book series of the same name by Ann Brashares, the story hinges on the fact a pair of jeans fit four friends.
No comment is made about the bodies of Lively, Tamblyn and Bledel, who are presented as skinny teenagers.
But when it is her time to try the pants on, Ferrera’s character Carmen tells the rest of the group: ‘You think a pair of pants that fits all three of you is going to fit… all of this?’
The size of the trousers is not specified, however, both Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively are thought to be size 2.
While she was not a size 2 at the time the movie was shot, Ferrera was hardly overweight, but was often cast in roles where her curves were seen as a detriment.
Speaking of the way Ferrera has been represented throughout her career on her TikTok, Marielle Greguski said: ‘When I thought of Ugly Betty, or any of the movies or shows that America Ferrera was in, she was sold as the fat friend.’
She said that Ferrera was part of a cohort of actresses presented to audiences as fat ‘even though they were probably not even close to mid-size.’
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001
The 2001 movie stared Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones, a singleton hoping for love in the London of the noughties
Bridget’s weight oscillates between 8st 9lbs and 9st. A 9st woman of Renee Zellweger’s height would have a perfectly healthy BMI of 21
The 2001 movie stared Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones, a London singleton looking for love in the noughties.
Most of the action revolves around the love triangle between Bridget and her sleazy boss Daniel Cleaver, played by Hugh Grant and the stern-looking Marc Darcy, played by Colin Firth.
But one lingering theme throughout the movie is Bridget’s looks, namely her weight. The movie goes to great length to portray Bridget as overweight.
Several shots show Bridget eating ice cream, weighing herself and sighing, and struggling to fit into a pair of Spanx.
At one point in the movie’s voice over, Bridget says she has a ‘bottom [the] size of Brazil’, despite weighing 9st 10lbs.
Bridget’s resolution for the New Year is to ‘lose 20 pounds,’ which would make her go below the 9st mark.
Her weight is also referenced by other characters in the movie – mainly female.
Natasha, the New York exec who turns out to be Daniel’s lover tells him, ‘I thought you said she was thin,’ when she sees Bridget for the first time.
Meanwhile, when Bridget tells her friends that Mark Darcy told her he liked her ‘as she is,’ her friend Jules, played by Shirley Henderson, replies: ‘Just as you are? Not thinner? Not cleverer? Not with slightly bigger breasts or slightly smaller nose?’
Speaking of the movie in 2016, when she was filming its equally popular sequel Bridget Jones’s Baby, Zellweger herself said she couldn’t understand the obsession with Bridget’s weight.
‘Bridget is a perfectly normal weight and I’ve never understood why it matters so much,’ she said.
‘No male actor would get such scrutiny if he did the same thing for a role,’ she added at the time, speaking to CBS.
Marking the movie’s 20 anniversary in 2021, Radio Times wrote: ‘Even by early 2000s standards Bridget wasn’t overweight and the film’s constant claims that she is are not just ridiculous but also irresponsible.’
Jamie Donnelly as Jan in Grease, 1978
Jamie Donnelly played Jan, one of the Pink Ladies who give Newton-John’s Sandy a hard-time when she first arrives to Rydell High, but eventually befriend her. Jan’s character arch revolves around her weight
In the 1978 movie, Jan is called ‘fat’ and keeps complaining about diet or is filmed snacking to drive home the point she is not as attractive as the other girls
One of the most famous musicals of the 1970s, Grease stars Olivia-Newton John as Sandy and John Travolta as Danny, who sing and dance their way through their high school relationship.
One of the Pink Ladies, Jan – played by Jamie Donnelly – gives Sandy a hard-time when she first arrives at Rydell High, but eventually befriends her.
Most of Jan’s few lines revolve around her weight, and she is often seen snacking on sweets.
The first time we see her, she is eating an Oreo and is belittled by her friend Marty Maraschino, played by Dinah Manoff, who tells her ‘Jan, that is so adolescent.’
At one point in the movie, her love interest Putzie tells her ‘I think there is more to you than fat,’ which she replies to with an earnest ‘thank you.’
The movie makes plenty of other references to Jan’s weight, especially the fact she is dieting before the school dance.
The romance between Putzie and Jan actually begins as they shares snacks.
Jan tells him: ‘I’ve been dieting all day! My mom’s apple pie is better than this stuff! do you want some?’
And Jan tells herself during a school function: ‘Don’t let me near the refreshment stand! Take my money away from me! I’m not hungry! I’m not hungry.’
But looking at Jamie Donnelly’s actual frame at the time, she is as petite as Dina Manoff or Stockard Channing, who plays the Pink Ladies leader Rizzo.
The line calling Jan fat was deemed so problematic, it was taken out of a 2016 Live rendition of Grease, with the script replacing ‘fat’ by ‘weird.’
Her obsession with dieting, however, still made the cut.
Martine McCutcheon as Natalie in Love, Actually, 2003
In the 2003 movie classic Love, Actually, the weight of Natalie, the Prime Minister’s love interest played by Martine McCutcheon, right, is a running joke throughout the story.
The weight of Natalie, the Prime Minister’s love interest played by Martine McCutcheon, is a running joke throughout the story.
Several comments are made about her size, including a snide remark from an ex-boyfriend who told her: ‘No one’s gonna fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks.’
Although Martine put on 10bs to play the role, her real-life size has fluctuated between a size 10 and a size 14.
Several characters comment on Natalie’s supposedly problematic weight in the movie, with one coworker calling her bottom ‘sizeable’ and her thighs ‘huge’
The theme is reprised by other characters, including Natalie’s supervisor, who refers to her as ‘the chubby girl,’ and notes her ‘sizeable a*** and huge thigh.’
Meanwhile, Natalie’s father calls her ‘plumpy’ and Hugh Grant, who plays David, the PM, jokes she ‘weighs a ton’ when he lifts her up as the movie reaches its climax.
In 2021, Instagrammer Alex Light, who is a body positive voice and counts 461,000 followers on the platform brought up how the treatment of Natalie’s image did not make sense.
‘First off, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Natalie was not fat. By any means. I mean, granted, she’s not, like, TV-thin, but she’s definitely not fat,’ sje wrote.
‘So this narrative doesn’t really make sense – so much so that there are threads on Reddit asking for explanations as to why she is constantly called fat (I know because I googled it too),’ she added.
She went on to say; ‘Can a film or TV show not be funny without a dose of fatphobia and comments about the way a woman looks?”
Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett in I Feel Pretty, 2018
I Feel Pretty starred comedian Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett, right, was called out for fat shaming when it was released in 2018
I Feel Pretty starred comedian Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett, a 30-something woman who is crippled by her negative body image and hates the way she looks.
In the movie, Renee makes the wish to be beautiful and, after an accident in spin class, wake up thinking she looks extremely attractive, even though her looks have not changed.
Convinced she has the body of a supermodel, Renee gains in confidence, but people have called out the fact she is the only one, apart from her love interest, who seems to think her self-confidence in valid.
The movie also make snide jokes at Renee’s appearance – she’s handed a ‘double wide’ shoe size at the gym – which had many viewers thinking it was fat-shaming Schumer.
In the movie, Renee makes the wish to be beautiful and, after an accident in spin class, wake up thinking she looks extremely attractive, even though her looks have not changed.
In a review titled ‘Is This Amy Schumer Comedy Fat-Shaming Away the Funny?’ Rolling Stone called out the movie for making jokes at the expense of the actress.
‘Blaming society and its corrupt emphasis on physical perfection for the way Schumer and her friends are treated doesn’t get you off the hook for begging laughs at their expense,’ it read.
However, viewers also noted that while the joke is that Amy Schumer is not thin – a scene where she enters a wet T-shirt contest sees her win over sniggering men who comment on her looks – she is far from being fat.
On Twitter, viewers said the fact Amy Schumer, who is a US size 10-12, was portrayed as a fat woman was offensive and dangerous.
‘I’m just really tired of Amy average body Schumer trying to push this idea she’s fat. I feel she’s doing more harm than good by trying to tell people with average bodies that they’re fat,’ one person wrote.
‘What am I supposed to take from I Feel Pretty> That I’m hideous to society and need brain damage before I can believe in myself?’ another asked.
Schumer addressed the controversy around the movie at the time.
‘I heard a lot of, “She doesn’t have a right to feel bad about herself because she looks however she looks”,’ she told Vulture in 2018.
‘But first off, it’s not about an ugly troll becoming beautiful, it’s about a woman who has low self-esteem finding some,’ she added.
Mae Whitman as Bianca Piper in The DUFF, 2015
In the 2015 movie The Duff, teenager Bianca Piper, played by Mae Whitman, discovers she is her friend’s DUFF – their Designated Ugly Fat Friend
The promo around the movie was particularly focused on making clear Bianca was the least hot friend, which pushed one Vox review to read: ‘It felt like Hollywood basically creating a movie called Body Image Issues: The Movie’
In the 2015 movie The Duff, teenager Bianca Piper, played by Mae Whitman, discovers she is her friend’s DUFF – their Designated Ugly Fat Friend.
The teen is made to feel she is less pretty and less worthy of attention than her two best-friends, who are conventionally attractive.
The promo around the movie was particularly focused on making clear Bianca was the least hot friend, which pushed one Vox review to read: ‘It felt like Hollywood basically creating a movie called Body Image Issues: The Movie.’
The poster for the movie saw ‘Had enough of being the DUFF’ splashed across a picture of Whitman in baggy overalls.
While the movie’s message makes it clear that being a DUFF is just a state of mind – and that everyone is someone else’s DUFF – armchair critics still felt calling a petite actress like Mae – who is 5’2 and 8st 2lbs – was extremely problematic.
‘They didn’t even cast a fat person for the role of the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend,’ one wrote on Twitter.
Danielle Savre as Brianna in Bring it On: All or Nothing, 2006
The Bring it On: All or Nothing movie stars Hayden Panettiere as Britney Allen, who confronts a cheerleader named Brianna about her weight after a team member calls her a ‘cow’
As far as cheerleading-centric movies go, Bring it On: All or Nothing has definitely not aged well.
The movie stars Hayden Panettiere as Britney Allen, a pretty, white and wealthy Californian cheerleader who has to transfer to a public high school after her father loses his job.
At her new school, Britney learns to fit in with the crowd of predominantly black and Latinx students, and has to choose between remaining loyal to her wealthy white friends or to make a new beginning.
Early on in the movie, Britney is pushed by her frenemy Winnie, played Emme Rylan, to confront one member of the team about their weight.
In a cringe-worthy scene, we hear that the girl, named Brianna, who is shown eating crisps, has gained weight over the summer.
‘If there was ever an argument for bulimia, it’s Brianna’s a**,’ Winnie says, before adding: ‘Pacific Vista has never had a fat cheerleader.’
While she admits Brianna has gained a bit of weight, Britney refuses to confront her fellow cheerleader about it, which pushes Winnie to say ‘Are you kidding me? The girl’s a cow. You have to talk to her.’
Eventually, Britney talks to Brianna and tells her that she has to lay off the snacks. This confirms Winnie’s argument that Brianna indeed looks fat.
But viewers strongly disagreed with this view, with some saying:
‘Nowadays she’s considered THICK. Brianna’s body was nice.
‘The casting director did this girl dirty by calling HER fat, even shoved food in her pants to show us she eats too much. No real person does that,’ another said.
Rachel McAdams as Regina George in Mean Girls, 2004
In Mean Girls, One of Cady’s stratagems is to get rid of Regina’s ‘hot body’ and making her look ugly
In the 18 years since its release, Mean Girls has become a cult classic when it comes to teenage movies, thanks to its brutal humour.
Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, dedicates her time to ruining the life of her love rival and high school Queen Bee Regina George, played by Rachel McAdams.
One of Cady’s stratagems is to get rid of Regina’s ‘hot body’ and making her look ugly.
Banking on her rival’s obsession with losing weight, she begins to feed Regina Kalteen bars, which athletes use to bulk up, passing them up as weight-loss snacks.
Eventually, Regina begins to put on weight, to the point where she is fat-shamed by a shop assistant in a store called 1, 3, 5 – named after the only sizes they sell.
Eventually, Regina begins to put on weight, to the point where she is fat-shamed by a shop assistant in a store called 1, 3, 5 – named after the one sizes they sell
When the tiny dress she planned on wearing at her prom does not fit her anymore and she asks if it runs in a bigger size, the shop assistant retorts ‘We only carry sizes one, three and five. You could try Sears,’ implying she’s too fat.
One cathartic scene sees her bump into a much larger girl in the canteen who tells her: ‘Watch where you’re going, fat a**!’
However, as one critic noted for Culled Culture, even with a few extra pounds on, Regina was by no means fat.
Speaking of the supposedly enlarged butt of the character, they wrote ‘it is, of course, only “large” for the standards expected of a white girl in Hollywood.
Similarly, in 2018, Vice noted how it is implied Regina should be ‘shamed’ for her bigger butt.
‘Pop culture often uses fat suits to communicate that weight gain should be a source of shame,’ they wrote.
Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones’ weight gain in Sex and the City Movie, 2008
In the 2008 Sex and The City movie, everyone is horrified when Samantha shows a little bit of a belly, in spite of still showing a great frame
The rest of the characters make a huge deal about Samantha’s gut, even though her frame is still very healthy
As Samantha Jones, the actress Kim Cattrall did her fair share of physical comedy for the Sex and the City series on HBO, a trend that continued in the 2008 movie.
Living in LA and struggling with monogamy in her relationship with Smith, Samantha turns to food to fight the urge to cheat on her partner.
But when she visits her friends in New York, they are horrified to find she has developed a gut.
While her skin barely spills out of her top, Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, cannot erase the shock from their face as they realise their friend has gained weight.
Meanwhile, brutally-honest gay character Anthony simply screams: Mother of god, what’s with the gut? Well, she’s eating something up there.’
This leads the four friends to discuss Samantha’s weight, with Carrie asking her how she could not notice she had packed on the pounds.
Discussing the moment on Reddit, viewers were not impressed, with some calling the scene ‘farcical.’
Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin in Pretty Little Liars flashbacks
In the Pretty Little Liars series, viewers noted that while she was made to look ‘hefty’ in flashback, the character of Hanna Marin was no bigger than a regular teen
The actress was dressed in large clothes and padded up to appear bigger, but still looked relatively normal
In the Pretty Little Liars series, one of the main character arches around Hanna, played by Ashley Benson, is that she used to struggle with bulimia and binge eating.
In order to portray this, the show decided to film flashback scenes with Benson portraying the ‘bigger’ Hanna with a fat suit or baggy clothes.
However, some fans revisiting the series noted that Hanna was no bigger than a teenager of normal size in these scenes, and that it conveyed a dangerous message.
Speaking on Reddit, one fan wrote: ‘Does anyone else think they’ve not done a very good job of making her “fat”?
‘In these scenes she is just a normal sized girl…I feel like its presenting a really bad message to a lot of young girls that watch the show,’ they added.
Another said; ‘The show acts like she was obese before but she isn’t even over weight or close… I bothers me so much.’