Why we need to see fat actors as objects of romantic desire in mainstream films

<span>Photograph: AP</span>
Photograph: AP

Regarding Phoebe-Jane Boyd’s excellent piece on The Whale, I don’t intend to watch the film myself (We’re meant to find Brendan Fraser in a fat suit tragic, not funny. Is that really progress?, 25 January).

My mother had a recurrent lecture series when I was a teenager listing all the reasons why she wouldn’t be sticking around to clean my abscesses when I inevitably grow into a bed-ridden monster. Not exactly affirming, nor particularly helpful, feedback from your primary care giver as a moderately overweight teenager. I’m not sure if I’m really up for an evening of Brendan Fraser opening up that particular wound just yet, despite agreeing that his empathy on the matter seems genuine.

I’ve always thought that the sign of real progress in how fat people are portrayed in the media will be when a fat actor is, earnestly and successfully, the object of active romantic desire by a protagonist in a mainstream movie. Fat people, and the people who love them, live in a world that has taught us that our love is at best niche, at worst hilarious.

I’m a BAME woman, so at this point, add that discrimination to the tab. What’s harder to stomach, however, is the feeling that the world sees my husband as some pervert for finding me attractive. I’d love to see representation of what we have, for him as much as for myself.
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