The Bigger the Cushion...
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 thing.
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.
Obviously, television 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.)
*Actually, there's also Kathy Najimy from Veronica's Closet, but she's obviously only there so Kirstie Alley won't feel like the "large one."
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Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.