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It’s 2022, why are we still dressing up skinny actors in fat suits to portray plus-sized people?

I love true crime. It could be because I live in Los Angeles and am surrounded by it, but I love it.

So when I heard about NBC’s new show using a dramatic retelling of a true crime story with actors portraying the real-life people, I was all in. Added bonus, Keith Morrison from “Dateline” was narrating. Hell yeah!“

The Thing About Pam”, stars Renée Zellweger, and tells the “incredibly shocking, ridiculously true story” of Pam Hupp, a Missouri woman involved in several murder cases. Disclaimer, I had never heard of Pam Hupp or the murderers she committed.

It’s 2022, why are we still dressing up skinny actors in fat suits to portray plus-sized people?I love true crime. It could be because I live in Los Angeles and am surrounded by it, but I love it.

Renée Zellweger in "The Thing About Pam"

Renée Zellweger in "The Thing About Pam"

So when I heard about NBC’s new show using a dramatic retelling of a true crime story with actors portraying the real-life people, I was all in. Added bonus, Keith Morrison from “Dateline” was narrating. Hell yeah!“

The Thing About Pam”, stars Renée Zellweger, and tells the “incredibly shocking, ridiculously true story” of Pam Hupp, a Missouri woman involved in several murder cases. Disclaimer, I had never heard of Pam Hupp or the murderers she committed.

So far I have watched the first two episodes and I have been quite entertained. The only issue I have with the show is that in 2022, why are we still dressing up skinny people to play fat people?

It’s a fair question in light of the pushback from the trans community and other communities on the use of straight actors.

Then there’s Hollywood’s constant struggle to appropriately cast actors to play people of any shade other than white. There have been so many times I have had to look up actors to see if they were actually Black they were so fair-skinned.

So why not hire plus-sized actors to play plus-size roles instead of dressing up skinny actors in fat suits?

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I have to admit I was perturbed by executive producer Chris McCumber’s answer to The Wrap on why producers didn’t select an actress who is the same size as Hupp.“

When a two-time Oscar winner calls and says, ‘I’m obsessed with this story and I want to play Pam and I want to produce, you say, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes.’ And our job at that point is to provide Renee and the rest of the cast with all the tools they need to embody these characters.”

McCumber’s answer shows Hollywood really hasn’t changed as much as it wants its audience to believe it has. What if Pam Hupp has been of a different race, would McCumber still have gone out of his way to make sure that Renee had the tools to embody the character?

In the same article, Zellweger agreed that “hiding” in her costume was a bonus.

Renée Zellweger in Santa Monica

Renée Zellweger in Santa Monica

Hiding in a fat suit. What message does that send to the millions of size 14 average-sized and above-average-sized women in America who can’t hide in their boy and take it off at the end of the day?

As long as we continue to dress up skinny women to portray mid-weight and obese women on television and in film, we continue to send the message to women of all ages that skinny is still better. It’s even more unfair since it’s fair impossible to do the opposite.

I don’t buy the argument that putting on a fat suit sets a thin actor outside of their own experience and allows them to inhabit the life of another person any more than giving someone a dark tan or putting on blackface gives them the true Black experience.

We don’t see enough of the average woman cast for roles which leads me to believe that casting directors are still biased against actors over a certain when making hiring decisions. That needs to stop.

Body positivity in Hollywood has to extend beyond the performative social media posts and splashy headlines and into dollars and cents–that means jobs.

Casting fat as fat–even in leading roles–is the right thing to do in 2022 and beyond. 

JC: Jasmyne Cannick