So, Rebel Wilson is awesome. That, I won’t deny. From her hilarious turn as Kristen Wiig’s roommate in Bridesmaids to her cameo as a juggalette on Workaholics, everything I’ve seen of this lady, I like. And I’m not alone—see: Sandy Cohen’s HuffPo post from earlier this month, titled “Rebel Wilson: Is The ‘Bachelorette’ Star Hollywood’s Next Leading Comedienne?”
Yes, the Industry seems all in a tizzy over its latest discovery—but not, I would argue, for all the right reasons. Indeed, journalists seem incapable of writing about this talented woman without somehow calling attention to her size, even if only to praise her for her “fearlessness” at performing “unselfconsciously” despite it (HuffPo again). It’s like that recent spot-on Onion headline, “Magazine Article About Mindy Kaling Fails to Mention She’s a Woman”—the joke being, of course, that none ever would.
What bugs me most about this particular brand of hype is its sheen of self-congratulation—that we seem to be patting ourselves on the back for deigning to appreciate someone with slightly more body than would grace the average magazine cover. Not only do I find it patronizing and more than a little disingenuous, but also, even if I were comfortable naming a poster-child for our newfound acceptance of zaftig actresses, Wilson seems to me an odd choice, given that she signed on as a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig in 2011. Since then, she’s been touting her weight loss success, even reassuring us she plans to lose more.
To be clear, I’m not upset with Rebel Wilson. Not in the least. Her body is her business, and especially if she’s “Happy? Not really,” as she states in the first entry on her Jenny Craig blog, then sure, by all means, she should go for it. Still, I’m bummed that, in that same entry, she describes herself as “fugly,” as I think she’s far from it (and I suspect this notion of herself as a “marshmallow girl” stems at least in part from societal pressures). Also, I find it particularly aggravating that the start of her “weight loss journey” coincided with her increase in visibility—the inescapable implication of which is, “If we’re going to look at you more, you’d better fit into smaller pants.”
I mean, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before. When breakout star Jennifer Hudson took the stage to accept her Oscar in 2007, we couldn’t get enough of celebrating a “real woman” making a name for herself in the biz. Cut to 2012, where a shockingly lean Hudson hawks Weight Watchers on bus sides, when not promoting her new autobiography, I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down.
I’ll stress once more that my intent is not to judge these women for “caving” or anything of the sort. However, my intent absolutely is to call attention to this frustrating trend of rising stars slimming down. I think it’s vital to recognize the extent to which Rebel Wilson’s success is not necessarily a giant leap for mankind as far as body image goes, nor even really a small step. We as a society are still knee deep in our hateful and damaging “fat = bad” ideology—as Hollywood, far from diversifying, seems to have sucked us all into perpetuating its standards, stripping even the most rebellious of their non-conformist traits.