Join Date: July 2005
Ashley Marie Greiner
I don't think many readers here watch soap operas -- and with good reason. Having said that, the daytime soap As the World Turns deserves a nod for featuring one of the few -- perhaps the only -- plus-size 'tween actresses currently in the public eye.
Her name is Ashley Marie Greiner, and unfortunately, there aren't any good pictures of her online. What little is available shows her as a child. (She's now 11 or 12.) But she is a gifted young performer, and she reminds me of Christina Schmidt during the first season of Degrassi, especially because Faith (the character that Ashley Marie plays) is very similar to Terri -- both pretty girls who are acutely self-conscious about being full-figured.
To its credit, As the World Turns has been making the most of this actress. For months, the show ran a storyline in which Faith's mother became addicted to diet drugs -- and this, in turn, led to Faith developing an eating disorder herself.
It was a powerful storyline, far above the usual soap-opera rubbish, because it effectively dramatized how body-image issues can be passed down from mother to daughter. Faith's mother learned a hard lesson about how harmful an example she was setting for her daughter, with her self-destructive actions. Hopefully, any mothers watching the show (and I'm sure that there were many, considering the target demographic of soap operas) realized the importance of creating a size-positive environment at home, both in words and deeds.
There have been several other favourable moments in the show involving Faith and body image since then, including a wonderful scene in which Faith's quasi-boyfriend makes an offhand comment about finding girls with actual figures more attractive than fashion-magazine toothpicks. But the most important thing is that the show is putting a full-figured 'tween actress in the public eye, and giving her solid storylines. Ashley Marie is doing a fine job in the role.
(Of couse, the only way to watch this show is by TIVOing or recording it, then fast-forwarding through any storylines that don't involve Faith. That way, a whole week of programming can be viewed in a few mintues, with the irrelevant bits ignored.)