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Michele Deradune

Close Shots: "Women in TV and Film Show American Bondage to Stereotypes"
by Michele Deradune

February 2002

We see it all the time, in casting notice after casting notice: slender, attractive woman in her twenties to play the lead; slender, attractive woman in her thirties to play the slender, attractive lead's mother. Where have all the BBW (Big Beautiful Women) and mature (over thirties) women gone? That's simple: they never got there yet, at least not much, in American film. It's well-known that Hollywood movies have "formulas" for their plots, and similarly they have formulas for who can be the lead actors - unless of course it's a psycho woman, such as KATHY BATES' famous role where she was totally demented.

QUENTIN TARANTINO, the Director and Screenwriter of "Pulp Fiction" and Screenwriter of "True Romance," two of my favorite movies of all time, made a public confession on Ricki Lake's show a couple years back that BEFORE she lost weight he had a huge crush on her. I have this to ask Quentin: Where's the plump ladies in your films? You said you wanted a fuller figured and more mature woman for "Jackie Brown." But what you came up with couldn't have been more than a size 14. Of all people, I thought YOU had some balls! More movies are yet to come, no doubt. Let's see some FAT girls, QT!

While we're on the subject, one of my pet peeves is big women who make it big in film or TV while they are big and then, after success, go on diets to conform to the thin hype. Look at OPRAH. Winfrey was an enormous success BEFORE she lost any weight. People loved her just the way she was. But no, she had to go thin-crazed on us. She dieted and exercised down to a size 10 and flaunted it. Now she can't gain back ten pounds without the media splashing it around like a major headline. And remember JACKEE, the full-figured and sexy woman on Marla Gibbs' TV series "227"? She too let the thin hype get her down. I don't blame these women, not really. We have lived with that tape all our lives from friends, family and media: "Nobody loves a fat woman" is something my own father said to me at the tender age of eight. I am happy to say my Daddy was not always right. As a matter of fact, I had many boyfriends both before and after becoming a BBW. In great part it is the men who prefer big women that I have found to be the most loving - as well as the most sexy - even though my own preference for men has remained the same. I prefer thin men. But there are women who admire fat men, too. To them I say, "Good for you!" I don't know about anybody else, but I think the world would be an awfully boring place if everyone was the same size. Kind of like a B movie, haha.

It never has been so easy for big-sized women to make it in film and TV in these here United States. Not so in some other countries. I remember reading in The University of Texas's "Daily Texan" newspaper a few years back about the top three female superstars in Egypt: all three were BIG beautiful women. And guess what? The top star of the three was also the biggest! For centuries around the world large, curvy woman has meant a sensuous, attractive woman. And even today there are scores of men who not only accept, but even prefer, large women. Here's a small collection of quotes from 21st century men I picked off the net just last week:

"I'm just your average twenty-sumthin' male from good ol' Ireland who has a passion for REAL women. By real I mean a gal with curves! Voluptuous curves that drive men like me'self wild!!"

JW had this to say:

"For as long as I've had wild oats to sow, I've had a lust for Big Beautiful Women (BBW). Sadly, I kept my attraction to myself. Even worse, when my imagination and my hormones demanded that I take the plunge, for years I would venture out of the "closet" and connect with a BBW on purely sexual basis. But all the while, felt somewhat embarrassed to "be seen" or "caught" with one. Why?

"Don't get me started on the Hollywood and Madison Avenue image-makers and the ways in which standards of beauty are shoved down our throats...or on the negative stereotypes that condition us to act and think in accordance with what's in vogue. The bottom line is that it wasn't "politically correct" to be a FA [fat admirer]. I've long since come to my senses and don't give a wet rat's ass what the narrow minds in the peanut gallery think. I find BBW to be very sensual, sexy, and erotic lovers...and beyond the physical attraction, most have done some soul-searching, and know who they are, are comfortable with themselves (to the extent that ANY of us are)! And the best part is that now I'm able enjoy -- in public and in private...intimately and/or as friends -- the pleasures of being with a BBW!

"Now, I have friends who lust after BBW -- as sex objects -- but would never be "caught" with one in public."

Another man, happily married to a Big Beautiful Woman, stated:
"One of the biggest problems in a BBW admirer's life happens when he meets a wonderful woman who hates her body. Support and reassurance may help a partner get over a negative body image, but it can be enormously frustrating to be involved with someone who loathes the very thing we find most attractive about her."
Many or most of us who are BBW already know all this - that many American men, (I'm guessing a minimum of 50 percent of men) - see big-sized women as sex objects, and that at least half of those are embarrassed to be seen with BBW in public. Why hasn't Hollywood - or Austin independent film, for that matter - cashed in on this? My guess is that it's the people who conform to the old standards that have been in charge, and for too long.

I understand about the social brainwashing. Believe me, I used to buy into that kind of thinking 100 percent. I was one of those women that spends over 50 percent of every day's psyche on obsessing about the "need" to be thin. Never could I pass a reflection of myself without looking at it anxiously to see if I looked thin enough. I dieted and dieted and dieted. Kept down to a size 10, 12 or 14 for many years. Had boyfriends that always wanted me to lose "ten more pounds." One crazy guy even told me, "We could get back together if you would just lose ten more pounds. Then you would be PERFECT." Ugh. Double ugh!! How would you like to marry a man like that, ladies? Not!

But then a funny thing happened in my late twenties. An ex-lover who had remained friends with me over long distance replied when I told him that I had gained a lot of weight - I was a size 14 at the time, and totally mortified about it - told me, "I LOVE fat women!" My response? "You do not!" "Yes, I really do." "You do not." I didn't believe him for one second. I figured he was just trying to make me feel better. At the time I was dieting devotedly to stay attractive to my main local love interest. Until one day I caught him in bed with another girl - and she was FAT! I don't just mean pudgy. I mean fat. My best friend at the time, an absolutely gorgeous, thin and petite girl, in trying to offer me sympathy would say things like, "How can he leave you for that PIG?!" You know what? That made me feel bad, to hear someone being called a pig. As much as I wanted to hate her, it just didn't feel right or fair. Instead I thought to myself, "I must be incredibly unappealing to him if he would leave me for someone so [I thought] unattractive." When I talked to that same guy a year later he informed me that he had married her. Wow.

His name was Alec. Alec, wherever you are, THANK YOU. It finally got through to me then that maybe this dieting thing was NOT the cure for all my problems. As a matter of fact, I started noticing that the dieting thing was a CAUSE of a lot of my problems! For one thing, it required an enormous amount of pumped up narcissism in order to keep myself on a diet: I had to be thinking about it all the time, calculating what I would or would not eat next, glorifying to myself how "great" I looked thin and thinner, and must have looked at my reflection in mirrors, store and car windows fifty times a day. Never mind anything else - my weight was exceedingly important to me. Ugh! Never mind what OTHER people thought about me. I was a narcissistic bore to my SELF. And thus was the beginning of my liberation from the diet sorry-go-round.

Many years and pounds have been added in my life since those days. Nowadays I'm a size 22/24 on top and 26/28 on the bottom half (being pear-shaped), and do you know what? I feel better about myself now than I ever did at a size 8 or 10. Many of the men I have dated in the past decade turn up their noses at skinny girls. To them, a skinny girl is boyish looking. There is zero sex appeal. They demand womanly curves, the sensuality of feminine softness that can never be found in skin-and-bones. I'm not putting down skinny women. There are plenty of guys who honestly do prefer them too, and that is as it should be. What a boring world it would be if all men only liked big-sized women. At least as boring as all the gamut of films that will use only young, slender women for the lead roles.

For all the ladies who are like me - naturally zaftig - here's a good comeback when someone suggests you lose some weight or trying a certain diet: "Oh no, I couldn't possibly do that. I don't want to lose my womanly figure!" And enjoy. So some people think that most men like their women flat? Well, most people used to assume the world was flat, too.

Until next time,

Cheers

Michele Déradune

Michele is an actor in Austin, Texas represented by Liz Atherton at Ciao! Talents. Her credits include a supporting role in "Snake Tales" (winner of Best Independent Film Comedy Award given by the Chicago Institute of Art in the summer of 2001), being videotaped by KEVIN SPACEY in his own unscripted film on the set of "The Life of David Gale" and as an invited regular call-in voice on 96.7 KISS FM's "The Tony Fly Show." Se Michele's online résumé, including a picture of her sensuously plump figure at http://www.Deradune.com/resume.htm.

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