Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Drop Dead Diva- helpful or hurtful to big girl stereotypes?

There is a show on TV called Drop Dead Diva.
It focuses on the main character Deb who is an aspiring model (tall, thin, blond), but in the first episode, she dies unexpectedly. However, lucky for her, whilst up in heaven she presses a button that sends her back to Earth, but of course into another body: Jane's. Jane is a plus-size lawyer who was just shot and is lying in the hospital unconscious. So, conveniently, Deb gets to live, but the catch is that she is stuck in Jane's body.

This show is well written and the acting is good enough. However, the entire premise of the show kind of urks me and I will tell you why.

Jane is a big girl, but quite attractive (played by actress Brooke Elliot). However, it isn't until her body is inhabited by Deb that she starts to actually put effort into her looks (clothing, make-up, etc) and begins acting like a confident pretty girl.

Basically, before being taken over by Deb, Jane was just a frumpy fat girl. She played into every stereotype about big girls: always eating junk food, didn't put effort into her appearance, lacked confidence. My problem with this is that it makes it seem like it takes the mentality of a model (Deb) to make Jane confident and girly. It's as if no big girl could ever actually act/ feel this way on her own, she'd have to be taken over by a dead model first. It makes me wonder if the show would be successful or believable if the audience didn't know that Jane was actually Deb, which apparently justifies her confidence and extremely feminine demeanour.

As someone who has struggled with my weight and the stereotypes that go along with it for many many years, I just find it insulting that a beautiful plus size woman on TV can't be represented as confident and feminine without first being taken over by a model. I would estimate I am about the same size as Jane and I like to think I am just as attractive in the face. I think my mentality and behaviour is similar to that of Jane/Deb and I didn't need a model to take me over first!~

Now, to be fair, they also represent Deb as a total bimbo. It isn't until she takes over Jane's body (and apparently gets all of the memories/knowledge that Jane had too) that she is actually able to act intelligent, or at least recall intelligent facts that Jane retained from law school.

While I understand that in society, unfortunately a lot of bigger girls do lack confidence and sometimes give up on their appearance for various reasons, there are also a lot that embrace their size and still dress well and wear make-up and act girly and have the confidence of a model without being a size 2. I would just love to see a show that has one of those women as the main character, without needing the model takeover of the body.

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