The nineties and early 2000s were a tough time to grow up if you were a young girl. Gossip mags were at the height of their power and the body positivity movement was far from being mainstream. Actresses’ bodies were dissected in every rag in the supermarket aisle, and entertainment television seemed to cover every pound a celebrity gained or lost. It was a dark time.
One of the strange outcomes of all this is that even very thin women were labeled as “fat” just because they had breasts or a slightly round face. And because everyone kept saying it, it became true in the minds of so many girls, causing all sorts of unhealthy dysmorphic thoughts.
And TikToker Rosey Beeme is trying to lead us all away from that collective trauma by recounting who was called fat and showing us once and for all how cruel and manipulative the media was about it. She’s been going through some very iconic women:
“There was a time in Hollywood when this woman was laughed at in casting rooms — and referred to as ‘Kate Weighs-A-Lot.’ …Joan Rivers even said that they both could have fit on that raft if Kate was five pounds lighter.”
“When I saw that picture of Jessica, I thought to myself, ‘Oh boy! She’s disgusting,’ because I was manipulated by the media… How is this disgusting? This is freaking stunning. You wanna know how big she was here? She was a size four. FOUR.”
“They called her bloated, pudgy, chubby, flubby, everything.”
“Soon, magazines were filled to the brim with images comparing her Sports Illustrated covers to just a regular, fun day at the beach.”
“Alicia played Batgirl. The media called her Fatgirl.”
“I remember looking up to Drew, meaning I also thought she was plus-sized. I don’t know where we got this collective idea. And if she was plus-sized that wouldn’t be a bad thing. She just isn’t.”
“The headlines said, ‘Selena: off the deep end! She’s a mess!’…as recently as six years ago, the media slammed a body that looked like this.”
“At the Super Bowl Half time show, where she showed her very real and very normal stomach… Legions of idiots took to their smartphones to destroy this woman for looking like this.”
Beeme was interviewed by BuzzFeed, who said she started her project of reviewing media’s fatphobia while watching movies in quarantine. She noticed how some of the women she thought of as plus-size role models as a child really didn’t earn the label. Most of them were thin but cast as though they were fat.
“I wondered if this impacted the way I saw myself and other people in bigger bodies, so I started making TikToks exploring this idea. As it turns out, a lot of other people had the same misconceptions,” she said. “Whenever there was a character in a film that was plus-size, she was always timid, naive, or the exact opposite — sexually confident and often abrasive. When there was a woman in the industry who put on weight, she was seen as a trainwreck, as mentally unwell.”
Her thinking has completely changed as she aged and through her own TikToks.
“As I searched through images of Jessica Simpson during the infamous chili cook-off, I was really astounded at how the photos did not match my memory of the event,” she said. “I saw her as a plus-size woman who was around my size at the time — which was 18-20 — and was shocked to see how much thinner she actually was.”
But she doesn’t want people to misunderstand her—if they were fat, that would be okay.
“I think my media could be misconstrued as ‘these people aren’t fat, they’re beautiful!’ The message I hope to convey is that the scrutiny placed on these thin, conventionally attractive people affected a generation of people of all shapes and sizes to scrutinize themselves and the people around them with hatred,” she said.