Let’s play a game!
- Name men who do not fit “traditional” or socially-acceptable male beauty standards but still feature in TV shows, movies, and the like where their roles revolve around something other than their weight. Men like, say, Seth Rogan. Or Chris Farley. Or Jack Black. Or Danny DeVito. Or John Beluschi. I could go on.
- Do these guys get a “hot” girl despite their appearance or flaws in their personality? Because man, I can’t tell you how many times something like Knocked Up has happened to me in real life. You know, where my gorgeous, successful friends have sex with some asshole with no job and no motivation and decide to stay with him despite the fact that he’s a child in a man’s body.
- What does that hot girl look like? Seriously. Think about it.
- Now, name women who do not fit “traditional” or socially-acceptable female beauty standards but still feature in TV shows, movies, and the like where their roles revolve around something other than their weight. Queen Latifah. And she’s had roles that revolve around her weight, but at least she’s also had roles that don’t. Anyone got someone else? Anyone?
- Do these women get a “hot” guy despite their appearance or the flaws in their personality? And more importantly, is he genuinely into her? And I’m not talking about the farce that was Shallow Hal, where they strapped Gwyneth Paltrow into a fat suit and had Jack Black’s character fall in love with her inner beauty … while he couldn’t see her outer self (which, in my opinion, was still beautiful). The message there is that men need to be convinced of a fat woman’s worth, like it’s this huge shocker that she’s beautiful AND fat.
Beyond that, there is a much wider variety of socially accepted male beauty than there is for women. Women, to be considered worthwhile and “hot,” have to be a certain weight. It’s not even about breast size or hair color anymore — it’s entirely about weight. Women like Emma Stone and Christina Hendricks are considered equally beautiful by mainstream culture (as they should be!) while women like Nikki Blonsky and Gabourey Sidibe are commended on their bravery or their boldness if they wear a sleeveless dress.
Men do not experience the same kind of body policing that women do. They just don’t. A woman’s weight is seen by American culture as an outward manifestation of her personal worth. If she is overweight, she has failed as a woman. If a guy is overweight… he’s dorky and cute. I’ve never seen any pictures of Seth Rogan in a bathing suit on the front page of a tabloid with giant letters deploring his “beach body.”