The Fat Studies Reader

By Esther Rothblum; Sondra Solovay | Go to book overview

29
Placing Fat Women on Center Stage

JuliaGrace Jester

As much as theatre is a form of expression, it is also a visual sphere in which norms of appearance are obeyed. According to Jill Dolan and others (1991; Feuer, 1999; Mulvey, 1975), theatre has been traditionally designed for the “male gaze,” indicating both the (un)intended audience for theatre and the perspective from which much of theatre is presented. Under these conditions, it seems that there would be no place in theatre for fat women, who are neither objects of attraction nor traditionally considered beautiful (Callaghan, 1994). It is not that fat women have not had a place in theatre; it is merely that they have been relegated to the roles of the old, the ugly, or the comical. This also means that roles that do not specify the character's weight will rarely be given to fat women.

In mainstream theatre, women are often used exclusively in reference to others on stage (as mothers, wives, daughters) or they are sexualized in ways that cater to male fantasy (Dolan, 1998). Under this form of patriarchy, women can identify with the weak female (masochism), or identify with the male character and be complicit in their own objectification. Fat women are faced with slightly different options, as they can choose to either identify with the thin lead who will never really represent them, or they can choose to fight this misrepresentation of the “female.”

The concept that thin is beautiful, and that fat is not, is not an innate aspect of human culture. As Richard Klein (2001) points out, in times of famine and food shortages, the desirable shape of a woman's body was large because a larger size indicated a position of wealth and power. Icons like Marilyn Monroe and Mae West, who were considered to be among the most beautiful and desirable women of their time, would be considered fat and undesirable by current standards of beauty and size (Risch, 2003).

Although the ideals of feminine beauty have changed over time, there is no doubt that in today's society being thin is the expected norm (Cramer & Steinwert, 1998). As Millman puts it, fat women are “stereotypically viewed as unfeminine, in flight from sexuality, antisocial, out of control, hostile, and aggressive” (1981, p. xi). So what does this mean for fat women who want to find a place to express themselves and be represented in the theatre?

Hartley says, “To the extent that the fat body has been vilified as marking a woman who refuses to accept the prescribed construction [of the female body], a place must

-249-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Fat Studies Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 365

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.