From Victim to Vixen
If there is any organ of the media that is even more gallingly anti-plus than the fashion industry, it is, of course, Hollywood--by which we mean the film and television industries.
At least the fashion industry is graced by the presence of some plus-size models, suppressed thought they may be.
But Hollywood doesn't even have that. The only notable instances of characters on television who were as attractive as plus-size fashion models, and were written to acknowledge the fact that they were gorgeous, were Blair Warner on The Facts of Life and Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women. And both of those exceptions only manifested themselves because the actresses in question began their careers by being underweight, then unexpectedly blossomed into curvaceous goddesses.
For that reason, we found the discovery of a casting notice for a forthcoming TV series titled Good Christian Bitches [sic] to be utterly thrilling. Prominently featured in a supporting role in this series is a character named Sharon Peavey, who is described as follows:
One could hardly imagine a more exciting character sketch. To see the words "beautiful" and "full-figured" linked together in a Hollywood description is singular; indeed, almost unprecedented. And the specification that Sharon is "very full-figured" suggests that she will not merely be faux-plus but genuinely full-figured, in the manner of a Judgment of Paris favourite. The observation that she is a "compulsive eater" is extremely enticing, for it suggests that she will exhibit indulgent tendencies that neither Blair Warner nor Suzanne Sugarbaker were ever permitted to voice. That Sharon is "super-sensitive about her weight" is not necessarily a negative characteristic, because it suggests an attractive vulnerability on her part. And the fact that her athlete husband is "still in shape" indicates a Mars/Venus character to their relationship, with both the GQ spouse and his soft-figured wife embodying the respective Classical ideals of male and female appearance.
So far so good.
Unfortunately, however, it all quickly goes wrong, as the storyline descends into intolerable Hollywood cliché and stereotype:
The "Amanda" in question is, as you might have guessed, the ostensible star of the show and the protagonist. Even before you encounter her character description, you likely know what's coming:
Groan. Of course Hollywood would rig it this way. Of course the husband of the full-figured beauty queen will be presented as straying towards the "slim," "smart," "strong" careerist. This sounds like a script out of Feminism 101: the triumph of the puritanically self-denying woman over the self-indulgent woman, of the masculine "strong" woman over the feminine soft woman. Moreover, true to Hollywood cliché, Sharon will be played by a blonde actress and Amanda by a brunette.
Hollywood never tires of regurgitating this trope. As Melanie astutely observed in our thread about Shannon Marie's tear sheet in Seventeen magazine a few seasons ago:
In none of the films that Melanie lists is the blonde antagonist full-figured, but in every other way the blonde/brunette rivalry in these movies conforms to the Good Christina Bitches character contrast.
Mind you, Hollywood did not originate this cliché; it merely codified it. The trope has its roots in the Victorian Era. As we observed in our post titled "The Victorian Vixen Redeemed":
The same resentment-based psychology that underpins the world-view of female Victorian writers who depicted thin, androgynous, intellectual brunettes implausibly triumphing over voluptuous, feminine, coquettish blondes, lives on in Hollywood, with Good Christian Bitches as its latest manifestation. Its antecedents include Jane Eyre's Villette and Kate Chopin's The Awakening.
However, at least Good Christian Bitches represents an advance over other Hollywood incarnations of this rivalry, in that the blonde antagonist will be presented as being "beautiful but very full-figured." Thus, the show will acknowledge that it is possible for a woman to exhibit both attributes, to be both beautiful and plus-size, and that one quality is not exclusive of the other, but rather, that the two go hand in hand. Even the Victorians acknowledged this fact, but Hollywood has attempted to suppress it. Until now.
For those of you who may be wondering, the provocative title of this series comes from a book of the same name, Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin. Although it is out of print and thus hard to obtain, we secured a copy and found it to be one of the most annoying, insufferable novels that we have ever read.
Riiiiiight. It's just the sort of thing that a high-school outcast always fantasizes that her cheerleader enemies are secretly saying about her.
The Sharon Peavy character of the book is, like Amanda, single, and the plot has the two women competing for the same man (with Amanda, naturally, winning). Most disappointing of all, Gatlin's Sharon isn't even described as being particularly full-figured, simply buxom and with a disinclination towards exercise. Although those are both attractive qualities, the Hollywood character sketch is far more appealing.
But why does the book carry the title Good Christian Bitches? If you haven't guessed, Sharon and her friends are portrayed as hypocrites who espouse Christian beliefs but do not adhere to them in their behaviour, while Amanda is (of course!) presented as a true Christian, in that her behaviour is beyond reproach, and the cosmos simply undoes her enemies' schemes and rewards Amanda for her amazing goodness.
This Christian-hypocrite angle confirms why anti-Christian Hollywood was interested in the property in the first place, despite its literary shortcomings. As actor Robert Davi explained in an interview in the must-read book Primetime Propaganda, the mantra in Hollywood is that
In the television industry, the clichés and stereotypes run deep.
Having the plus-size blonde beauty as the antagonist of a forthcoming television series is not at all unfortunate. If anything, the role of a somewhat villainous vixen is more exciting than that of a dull do-gooder. However, Hollywood still betrays its bias by rigging the conflict in such a way that the politically-correct, "slim, smart, strong" brunette implausibly triumphs over the full-figured former beauty queen.
Re: From Victim to Vixen
I have to agree. I am utterly stunned by the beauty of that photo. It's beyond thrilling to encounter a never-before-seen image of Shannon.
There never has been and never will be any model who can equal Shannon Marie in beauty. Her face has that exquisite, babylike softness, but her expression is so penetrating, so thoughtful. It's a fascinating blend of effects. There's so much depth of character in her gaze. A goddess beyond any other.
Re: From Victim to Vixen
I have to agree -- the picture is truly gorgeous. Even at this site, where I see stunning women on a daily basis, Shannon Marie stands out as a goddess without equal. Not even the most anti-plus-biased individual could deny that she is an exquisite beauty who comes along once in a lifetime.
I also love the natural feeling of the photograph, with the sea in the background, the coastal wind wafting her hair, and the deep, searching gaze. It's a very romantic image. It has an almost epic feeling, as if she were looking beyond the ocean toward where her soulmate were fighting in a great battle, his fate unknown.
But above all, it's the fullness in her face -- the round cheeks, the plump lips, the soft neck -- that makes the image a masterpiece of timeless beauty.
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