I hardly knew what to do with myself while watching the Oscars last night. At least four women around my age graced the stage and (GASP!!!) they weren't thin! In fact, they weren't even close to what is generally considered “healthy” by today's media.
Because, you see, “healthy” has become the new buzz-word when discussing the unacceptable largeness of women who the media feels have no business being all uppity and successful. Within the next week, several so-called “nutritionists” and “health experts” will appear on various TV shows and news casts all discussing how the larger ladies of the Oscar evening are all going to convince young girls to stop caring about how they look and eat whatever they want. I mean, heaven forbid! Can you imagine a world where women grew up to like themselves and are focusing on something other then their outward image?
Queen Latifah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Latifah) will get the least of this criticism. American movie culture first recognised black actresses in roles of the stereotypical “mammy” character of the Old South. Because of this, there have always been roles for larger black women. Additionally, she is a lesbian and popular culture assumes that this means that a woman who likes other women doesn't have to care how she looks.
None of this really matters, because Queen Latifah is fabulously talented and incredibly confident. The only thing she is in danger of convincing young (or any age) women of, is that being strong and self-assured is a great way to go through life.
Octavia Spencer has made the best of the roles offered to her in her career. In fact, in spite of a long list of being type-cast (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_Spencer) she has still managed to take such roles and receive critical acclaim for her work.
I loved her dress at the 2013 Oscars. It's the kind of dress that many large women, growing up in small towns and cities would have loved for their graduation dress but wouldn't have had any luck finding 20 years ago. The young women watching Octavia can look at her and see that anybody can be glamourous.
Melissa McCarthy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_McCarthy), like Octavia Spencer, has taken the roles offered to her and made them her own. She's carved out an impressive career in the movies and on TV and doesn't apologize for who she is. Aside from her busy career as a comedian an actress she is a wife and mother. I looked up any health problems and all I could find were articles predicting that she would someday have health problems. Recently, a movie critic (I can't remember his name, because he's a movie critic and who gives a shit) reviewed McCarthy's latest movie by only discussing her weight. She has elegantly defended herself and had plenty of back-up from colleagues and fans.
Adele (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adele_%28singer%29) has just added another impressive award to her already long list of accolades. The new mum, as usual, looked fabulous and I'd be lying if I said I didn't completely envy her hair. She was radiant and confident, not only on the red carpet but on the stage. Her acceptance speech (because she's not just a singer, but a songwriter) was humble and real and when interviewed she was her usual down-to-earth self.
However, in the days to come, there will be the usual ridiculous articles about her flitting about the internet. It seems that the massive marketing machine that tries to put people in neat little categories can't compute what has happened. “But... you can't be outside of our standards and be successful like that... you just can't!” Those who get rich from consumers are terrified. They don't know how they will make money if women like themselves. It's never occurred to them that a confident women will buy even more for herself because she believes that she's worth the little extras in life. I wish someone like Adele would have been on my radar when I was a teenager. Because I didn't think that I could compete in a world of women, I tended to try and fade into the background with no make-up, baggy shirts and mens' jeans.
Can you imagine a man not buying a new toy like a boat or a motorcycle because he didn't look like the male model in the ad?
It's taken me a long time to like the person I am. Women, like Queen Latifah, Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy and Adele have helped me to realize that size means nothing if a woman has confidence and likes who she is. Seeing them on the Oscars, last night, gives me hope that the teenagers who don't fit the mould, don't care and are just happy to be themselves.