By Ekta Rajagopalan
“You are the main character in your own life. Start acting like it right now.” – Sarah Grant
How many times have we all seen movies and TV shows where the “fat girl” is destined for a role as the supportive best friend who is solely there to hype the conventional pretty best friend? Whether it be Monica from Friends or Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect, or Barb from Stranger Things? Did Barb really need to die for #JusticeForBarb to trend on social media?
Sarah Grant dives into the treatment of plus size women in movies and TV shows in her latest novel, Fat Girl Best Friend (FGBF).
We live in an age of body positivity and “love who you are,” but we rarely see that reflected in the cinema, or on television screens. Plus size women are portrayed as the “bully victim,” or the “empty, sympathetic, and disposable best friend.” In ten chapters, Sarah breaks down popular movies & TV shows such as Bridget Jones Diary, Bridgerton, Friends, Gilmore Girls, Hairspray, Matilda, Schitts Creek, Stranger Things, and many more in how they treat plus size women. She also gives shoutouts to the movies and shows which disregarded body size and gave characters depth and personality that went beyond their waist size.
“What I realised when writing the book is that the problem is not the characters, it’s
that the tropes keep those characters penned into a tiny little box in order to keep telling the same story over and over again.” Both on the silver screen and on OTT platforms, the “fat best friends” are simply there to provide comedic relief and enhance the spotlight on their “thin popular best friends.” In the world of the Kardashians and Victoria Secret, do we also need film and television to make women feel defined by their size?
When asked if there were any movies about plus sized women that impacted her positively Grant said “Sadly, I don’t think I have a film or tv show that really shook me out of the FGBF mindset. Sure, there have been some great examples like Just Wright, Orange is the New Black, Booksmart and My Mad Fat Diary, but while these had some lovely refreshing characters in them, nothing has been the door-kicking-down calling all fat girls to action films I’ve wanted for years.” By calling out these unwarranted and frankly, unpleasant tropes, she hopes that we will break free of the cop out stereotypes, and give plus size women the representation they deserve.
FGBF is not a book that screams “love yourself, you’re worth it.” It is a book that makes you feel you aren’t alone, and that there is a reason you feel this way, whether that be films & TV, or simply society. In each chapter, she addresses a film or a TV show, breaks the stereotypes through an in depth analysis and talks to you like a friend, someone who’s rooting for you and who believes that YOU are the main character.
When asked what her dream project would be in this space, Grant said “I would simply write a TV series and stipulate the character would be fat. There would be no side plots about her confidence, no moments of self-doubt about her attractiveness, her body would never be an
obstacle personally or professionally. I would go into the project as if I was writing Happy Valley or Gavin and Stacy or Game of Thrones or anything I wanted to, and the main character would just happen to be fat.”
We can’t wait to watch that series, and see fat girls shed their best friend roles and be the main characters like they should be! In the meantime, grab Sarah Grant’s Fat Girl Best Friend and go live your main character life!