Opinion Piece: The Need for More Fat Heroines

Recently, a couple articles surfaced about how plus-size figures influence young women. After the “fat Barbie” article, the internet started spitting venom about this being a terrible idea. Most people argued that Barbie is a figure to be idolized, and by creating a fat version, it encourages girls to be fat. Barbie or no Barbie, fat girls and boys exist. It’s time the media gives these people a voice.

The main reason the media, specifically television programs, need more fat heroines is because girls and women need to be deprogrammed about their bodies defining them. Movies, books and television shows encourage these ideologies by their lack of body diversity. The 2013/2014 television season took a major step towards diversifying the racial images on TV. Most major shows picked up for full seasons contained at least one lead character that was a minority. This change deserves praise and admiration, but it’s not enough. Of all the shows on American television right now, I can count a handful with plus-sized main characters. We need more of them.

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From my understanding of the television world, several reasons prohibit shows from banking on a plus-size lead. The first is lack of appeal. The studio heads don’t believe many people will tune into a big girl falling in love, dealing with life or just being normal. We’ve seen endless amounts of reality shows that cast pretty people over interesting ones. Many shows even lack characters who wear more than a size 2-dress. But shows with plus-size leads have proven very successful in the past.  Ugly Betty aired for four seasons.  America Ferrera did slim down through the course of the series but the show’s premise was an “ugly” girl trying to make it in the fashion world. Right now Lifetime’s Drop Dead Divas is preparing to air its sixth season. Then we’ve seen how Melissa McCartney has become an America sweetheart due to Mike & Molly.  But the success of these shows seems more like the exception rather than the normal for producers.

In 2010, ABCFamily attempted to create a show surrounding plus-size teens. The show entitled Huge didn’t last a full season. There were many problems with this series, but it doesn’t represent the appeal of a show following a plus size teen. The UK show My Mad Fat Diary has huge cult following that includes American viewers. It’s becoming one of the few teen shows to unite people of all cultures.  It seems that plus-size characters do not discourage viewers, it’s badly written storylines and terrible marketing that do.

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A second factor that stops producers from creating more plus-size friendly programming is they feel it’ll be too controversial, or it will encourage teen girls to be fat. This argument is crap. Not only has television become more racially diverse, it’s been more sexually diverse. Almost every show has (or will have) a gay character. Now even more shows are adding transgender characters. Many religious extremist argue this encourages homosexuality. Yet people still add these characters. Why? Because they represent real people who need their voices heard and seen in the media to incite change.  Then what makes being fat so taboo for the television industry?  A fat girl on television doesn’t cause people to be fat, just like seeing a gay person on TV doesn’t make someone gay. I personally believe people are born gay. It is beyond their control. People aren’t born fat, but they shouldn’t be shamed and disregarded for it either.

By showing more variety, it helps women and girls build confidence, because they see bodies similar to their own. If anything, this can be an opportunity to educate. Too often, things are written about plus-sized women or girls that rely heavily on stereotypes. We need more shows not afraid to show society’s cruelty towards them.  We need shows that humanize plus-size individuals. Many TV programs have these characters just as someone to abuse for comedic purposes. This needs to stop. A plus-size or fat person is not synonymous with a clown.

ugly Betty

Isn’t it time for America to include more plus-size women and men on television?  Why not develop a show that doesn’t ostracize them, but one that shows their struggles? One that doesn’t feel the need to constantly say, “You’re fat, so you’re worthless.” Why must all the shows with fat reality characters be about their weight loss?  We as a nation don’t just need plus-size Disney princesses or Barbies, but plus-size romantic leads, political figures, superheroes, best friends, etc. We just need more plus-size humans on television shows, films,  and in books.

Pop Culture Pains: The Love Triangle

Pop Culture pains are the things in television shows, movies or books that make me want to pull my hair out. 

You find yourself invested in a television show or a movie. You’re loving all the characters. Then you see two characters who seem so perfect together. But wait…someone else enters the picture. Then you scream with horrible. No, no, no. It’s a love triangle.

The Vampire Diaries

I hate television show love triangles. I hate movie love triangles even more.  The ones in movies are huge disappointments. They usually end in one side of the triangle revealing themselves to be a horrible person.  Therefore, wasting viewers’ time, because they take the easy escape route in the end. The ones on shows just cause unnecessary drama. But the main reason I hate love triangles in television shows and movies are love triangles are so unrealistic.  How many people do you really know in a love triangle? And if this person is in a love triangle, how much does that make you dislike them? It makes them seem really slimy, because what kind of person keeps people strung along while they figure things out. It’s the ultimate sign of a selfish person.

So how are we supposed to like characters too fickle to decide who they want to be with? I think most people aren’t torn between two people. Their relationship problems are more internal. Their insecure about themselves and/or their partner. They argue too much.  Their kids are killing the romance. Very rarely is a relationship broken up because someone is conflicted about who they love. So why should we accept this in our television shows and movies? I would much rather see relationships have conflict because there are so many internal things hurting their romance. Take the other people out of it.  They just cause fangirls to argue over who’s hotter.

If television show and movie writers really want to show the problems of relationships, especially young ones, focus on what happens when people who are not completely aware of themselves start dating. Show people who really only love each other, but their past keeps making them do damaging things to their romance. How about even showing someone be unfaithful, and then that person try to repair the pain of that.

I have never watched a show and said “I’m glad there is a love triangle. I love, love triangles!” I have watched a movie with a complicated relationship and admired the depiction of all the stress and pain that comes with love.  So dear pop culture, please stop the love triangles. I don’t care how many people want to rock those stupid team whatever t-shirts.  I rather see complex stories about love that don’t involve someone else coming in the picture.  Love stories are more interesting when they’re realistic. Love triangles are not realistic.

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Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus (Covered by James Arthur)

After hearing Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, I immediately loved it. I’ll admit that the main reason I listened to the song was because of the controversy surrounding it and the video. However,  the controversy does not overshadow the beauty of the song. Yes, it’s beautiful in a simple, pop way. But for a pop song, it’s very well done.

I kept my love for the song a secret. Well, because I didn’t feel justified in loving it. That is until I heard the cover by James Arthur. I have been a James Arthur fan, basically from the beginning. I loathe the American version of X Factor but I love the UK version of it. I know they’re basically the same thing, but the UK one just works better for me. The same applies for The Voice. I love the American version of The Voice, but something about the UK version just doesn’t work as well as it does here.

I watched James Arthur become the champ of X Factor last year, and I have been following his career since. When he posted a link to this cover on Twitter, I finally felt like someone interrupted Miley’s beautiful song correctly. It’s not my favorite James Arthur cover, but it’s raw emotions give the lyrics a life that Cyrus never did.

Listen to James Arthur’s Wrecking Ball cover below. Better than the original? I think so.

The Pilots Are Coming, The Pilots Are Coming!

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Today a lot of networks began releasing pilot episodes of their shows online, through  sites like Hulu. A few returning shows even put their season premiere episodes today. And a couple of, unfortunate, shows got their premiere episodes leaked online. Plus, I’ve been getting all kinds of invites to attend public screenings in my area of the new fall shows.

So what does this all mean? It means I’ll be writing reviews of some of the premiere and pilot episodes of this fall season.  I’ll probably start tomorrow by doing a review of The Mindy Project’s season premiere (which I’m watching now).

Let the fall show season begin!

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Music Monday: A Lover I Don’t Have To Love by Bright Eyes

Often, a part of a lyric will intoxicate our minds. Then the fever sets in, and our obsession grows. We must hear this song. Only then will our fever cease. That is how I feel about ‘A Lover I Don’t Have to Love’ by Bright Eyes today. It’s one of those songs where the lyrics are part tragic and part beautiful.  It’s not quite a pop song, but not entirely rock. Some happy medium. The lyrics, to me, represent the consequences of addiction. I see the song as telling a story about using addiction, whether substance or sex, to mask real emotions.  It’s such a beautiful and haunting song. So this Music Monday is dedicated to the mesmerizing and tragic, ‘Lover I Don’t Have to Love.’

I Ship It: Once Upon a Time’s Neal & Emma-An Argument For Destiny

Recently I discovered that I am usually in the minority of television show couple shipping.  At least that’s how it appears based on vocalization.  For some odd reason, Once Upon a Time fans love the idea of Hook and Emma as a couple. I do not. For many reasons, I do not support this pairing. I do like both characters, just not together. However, I am fully aware that the writers are in the process of creating an Emma-Hook-Neal triangle. I’m team Neal all the way.

Neal and Emma

Many  OUAT fans do not like Emma and Neal as a duo. They claim the couple has no chemistry, they shouldn’t just be together because they have a child, etc. I think we’re watching a different show, because Emma and Neal not only have great chemistry,  but they’re one of the most dynamic pairs on Once Upon a Time.  Personally, I believe television show fans just create silly reasons to make their couple seem better than the next.  We’re all stubborn about our ships. Therefore, it would take a miracle to change someone’s preference about their TV couples. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to make non-believers see the beauty in the Neal-Emma pairing.

Here are the five main reasons I ship Neal and Emma (in no particular order):

1. They’re Destined 

One of the strongest themes in Once Upon a Time  is the idea that everyone has a destiny. And their destiny usually revolves around those who they choose to love.  Hence why Emma and Neal have a destined star-crossed lovers quality to their history.  No matter what, they always find their way back to one another. Not even dimensions can separate them. Their love story parallels Emma’s parents a lot. However, Neal and Emma’s love story is a little more grand, because it  should have never happened. One reason is because they weren’t even born in the same century, yet circumstances occurred to make their love possible.  One of the reason fairytales hypnotize people is because they help create this fantasy that true love is destined. Neal and Emma embody this belief.

2. Their Similar Past

Emma and Neal have a very similar past of abandonment. Therefore, they quickly bonded as teens. When they were younger, they did a lot of shady things. Nonetheless, just having each other made them more open and willing to love. Without each other, they both, in some ways, closed themselves off to true love.  One could argue that Emma shut herself off from love because Neal hurt her, but I’ll argue she did it because he is the only one she felt free to love.

Before Henry entered back into Emma’s life, she was basically a loner. But once she had her child (who is partly a representation of her love with Neal) she is able to let people in again. Neal has  been with Tamara but he is still very much shut off from her, by never fully telling her who he is. Only when united do both embrace who they are and their past.  A past that has scarred them both. However, it also bonds them. Because of their past, no one will understand them as much as they understand one another.

3. They have Chemistry 

TV couple chemistry is more complex than who looks good together, or who you think would have hot sex. It’s in the small things, like how the characters interact and play off one another. One of my favorite episodes of Once Upon a Time (so far) was ‘Tallahassee,’ because of the Emma and Neal flashbacks. From the first second they met in the car, I was sold on the pairing. The small things made them work, like their Bonnie and Clyde nature, the way they looked at each other when they said, ‘I Love You,’ and how small things had significance to them. Their chemistry didn’t feel forced or cheesy. It felt natural and endearing.

4. It’s Complicated

Every great television show pairing has to have some complications, but nothing too unforgivable(ex. abuse, rape, murder, etc), so that it won’t destroy the couples potential.  Neal and Emma have had a lot of couple complications throughout their relationship. Their current one is that she believes he’s dead.  Therefore, she’ll find herself falling for another man. Then, like all shows, she must choose between her past and present. This is the right amount of drama without over doing it.  If they overcome all of their obstacles, they will be a much more satisfying couple.

5. They’re Hilarious Together

Some of my favorite Once Upon a Time moments from season 2 are the Neal and Emma try to parent Henry fails. Everything from Neal not monitoring Henry while he sneaks out the window to Emma having Henry be  the lookout while she breaks into Neal’s place. If we can get great moments like  this from just a couple episodes, imagine the ones to come.

I  love Emma and Neal together. However, I am worried their romance will never fully workout with the Hook and Emma fans being so fanatic. So for now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll end up together when the series ends (or at least have a couple seasons of romantic development). Until then, I’ll just enjoy where the show takes each character.

If you’re not convinced yet about Neal and Emma (Swanfire), then watch this brilliant fan made video by EternalLove55 below:

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Music Monday: Brave by Sara Bareilles

‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles continues my obsession with the songstress.  The song’s concept is not revolutionary; there are many songs telling people to stand up for their rights. But the catchy beat, playful nature and clear vocal talents of Bareilles makes this song a must repeat on my music players.  It is one of those songs that whenever it comes on,  I stop and dance (making the video more appropriate).  I live in a metaphorical box, so I didn’t discover the song until Bareilles’s new album was released last month (which, I highly recommend you listen to ). But now the song is getting a lot of mention recently because of comparisons to Katy Perry‘s ‘Roar.’ I personally think the songs have very different styles, but a similar message. Therefore, to me, the comparisons are ridiculous. However, I am glad that more people are hearing ‘Brave’ because of it.

Take a listen to ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles and try not to dance. You can’t. It’s impossible.

ABCFamily’s The Fosters Rewatch

Leading up to The Fosters summer finale, I am going to rewatch each episode of the show and review it. The reviews will dissect many of the major issues explored in The Fosters episodes. I have decided to do this for The Fosters , because it is a rare show where everything works almost flawlessly. The actors sell their characters’ emotional struggles, the writers tackle important political issues without being too aggressive with them and the directors really understand the complexity of the writers’ work. To say I’ve seen a lot of television shows is an understatement. I’ve consumed more television–both domestic and foreign shows– than many people will their entire life. So I think I’ve seen enough television series to know a good one, and The Fosters isn’t just good, it’s transcendent.

This Fosters rewatch is a playful way for people who haven’t seen the series to learn a little bit more on it, and to encourage others to explore it themselves. Today, It was announced, that The Fosters has received a request for more episodes this season.  Hopefully, this is just the sign of many more episodes to come. So now, more than ever, it is a good time for me to discuss the cultural significants of a family drama/teen show of this sort.

ABC-Family-The-Fosters-620x412To give the show the best farewell until January, I want to review each episode in depth, starting Monday August 5, 2013 and concluding Thursday, August 15, 2013.  I invite everyone who watches The Fosters to do the same. Therefore, allowing a more conversation tone of these reviews.  If you do decide to join in on the rewatch, please link your blog clips on the comment section below.   I hope you will enjoy these analytical looks at each episode of The Fosters as much as I will enjoy writing them.

For now, if you haven’t seen The Fosters, nor have you heard of it, check out the trailer below.