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The Romantic Comedy Movie Genre Is Still Failing Fat Women


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The Romantic Comedy Movie Genre Is Still Failing Fat Women


This isn’t a new trope; one of my favorite romantic comedies ever, The Last Holiday from 2006, stars the legendary Queen Latifah as a shy department store saleswoman and aspiring chef who is mistakenly diagnosed with brain tumors and told she’ll only live a few more weeks. This jump-starts her dream life: she quits her job and spends her savings on a trip to a five-star resort in the Czech Republic. She splurges on spa treatments, extravagant clothing, ski lessons, and food prepared by a famous chef she idolizes. Like the others, she also learns how to be confident in herself and eventually lands the guy (LL Cool J) when he turns up to inform her that her diagnosis was incorrect all along.

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Even when plus-size women in romance movies aren’t being magically transported to the land where they’re desirable, the stories of their romances still tend to revolve around their weight or negative self-images that result from their weight. Netflix’s Dumplin’ (another favorite of mine) is a story about a fat teenage girl played by Danielle Macdonald who enters a beauty pageant as an ironic act of protest, only to discover that she was worthy of the title “beauty queen” all along. Throughout the movie, she consistently pushes her tall, lanky love interest — a coworker at a local fast food joint — away out of disbelief when he makes sincere attempts to date her.

Somewhat similarly, Phat Girlz, released in 2006, stars Mo’Nique as an aspiring fashion designer who struggles to find love in herself and with others due to society’s unrealistically thin beauty standards. On vacation, she meets her dream man in a handsome Nigerian doctor who finds both her body and personality sexy as all hell. Their relationship wavers throughout the movie because she is convinced someone as conventionally attractive as he could never genuinely want her.

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Most of these stories would make just as much sense with a straight-size lead. In this strangely specific genre of romance, self-loathing is normally the key…



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