Fat Suits Turn Ordinary Actors Into Overweight Characters: What’s the deal with the Oscar-winning The Whale debate and why we need real representation of overweight people
The film drama “The Whale” won two golden statues at the Oscars 2023: one for the best leading actor Brendan Fraser – one for the best make-up and hairstyling.
Oscar film “The Whale” reaped criticism for its body image
However, there was considerable criticism of the drama directed by Darren Aronofsky in advance. It’s because of the fat suit that turned Brendan Fraser into the character Charlie. The fat suit, a suit usually worn under an actor’s costume to make her/him appear more weighty, transformed Brendan Fraser into a college professor in The Whale who died after his partner’s suicide battling depression and gaining immense weight.
Multi-weight acting colleagues criticize fat suits
Various voices then criticized the portrayal of overweight bodies in the Oscar-winning film – including “Girls Club” actor Daniel Franzese, who dem “People Magazine” explained that it was a problem that an actual feminized and/or homosexual person couldn’t have been cast in such a role: “Finally having the chance to be in a prestigious film that tells stories about people who look as we? This is the dream. But when they keep casting people like Brendan Fraser for fat and queer roles, that’s actually hard for us fat and queer actors to take!”
Being fat is not a human error
The journalist Roxane Gay also commented in the “New York Times” was critical of the portrayal of overweight characters in the Oscar film The Whale. Instead of casting, however, she focused more on the story of “The Whale” itself: “It was clear that Mr. Hunter (screenwriter) and Mr. Aronofsky (director) saw being fat as the ultimate human failing, as something abominable , which must be avoided at all costs,” commented Roxane Gay.
The fact that the film was honored at the Oscars, despite such well-founded and wide-ranging criticism, makes one wonder just how serious Hollywood is about ensuring that people from underrepresented, marginalized communities are represented fairly — high-weight individuals included.
In fact, neither the use of fat suits nor the depiction that “fat” means “unhealthy” is new to the film and television industry.
Should standard-looking actors represent people with more weight?
Almost every one of us has probably already seen a film or a TV show in which an actor wears such a fat suit. In addition to Brendan Fraser, Emma Thomson also recently wore one for her role in the musical remake of Mathilda. And you probably don’t even notice it negatively anymore, you’re used to it that people who are normally beautiful in real life – i.e. who are considered “slim” according to the prevailing social norms – portray multi-weight characters.