A Weighty Issue

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This is hilarious! I was going to write this post before I saw this article featuring an incredibly slimmed down Jennifer Hudson.

Namely, I started reading Precious yesterday. Hilariously, I have the movie tie-in edition, so the cover says “Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire” but the book is indeed Push by Sapphire and hasn’t been changed a lick.

Having seen Precious already, I am a tad disappointed in the book so far. Not because it isn’t good – it is – but because the book and the movie are so intrinsically linked, almost nothing in the film stands apart from the book so far.

But this isn’t a Precious post, it’s a Gabourey post. Basically I was thinking about Gabourey as I read the book, and all the articles I’ve read about how finding the character of Precious couldn’t be done through a casting agency.

The fact of the matter is, plus-sized girls are the exception to the rule in Hollywood, and although they may have breakout roles, the possibility of a long-running career is questionable (Queen Latifah being the ultimate exception). The fact of the matter is, everyone celebrates these voluptuous ladies, but throws a freaking parade when one of the slims down.

At the Oscars, Queen Latifah looked amazing – curvy for sure, but toned and fit and healthy. And people kept on saying she’s never looked better, throwing in a comment about her weight and fitness.
As per the link above, we have Jennifer Hudson who has slimmed down considerably, despite being loud and proud and round just a couple of years ago during her awards streak.

Other famous examples include the likes of Sarah Rue, Kirstie Alley (in a constant battle), and well, any star that takes the Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers spokesperson role on.

Now, I hope Gabourey doesn’t succumb to pressure to be the next quasi-waifish starlet. I don’t think she will. But at the same time, it seems like these women (in particular, although Jason Alexander stands out as a male example) are simultaneously celebrated for their differences only to face an insurmountable dilemma: drop the pounds and become another generic starlet with a tabloid-worthy body. Or, hold out for the occasional role that comes your way and always be known as “that girl who starred in Precious”.

Jennifer Hudson obviously chose Option A after her one and only role post-Dreamgirls, a generally disliked part in the first Sex and the City movie. Will her new svelte shape lead to new roles? Maybe. Or she might end up on Dancing with the Stars, who knows.

Ultimately though, it sort of irritates me when stars, as so often happens these days, are vaulted to superstardom after one star-blazing part, but their differences set them apart from Hollywood to speak to what a major awards sweep should speak to: a long-running, viable, profitable, bankable star with a solid career behind and in front of them.

Will we ever see Jennifer Hudson or Gabourey Sidibe nominated for another award? I don’t know. Those girls were tailor made for their parts, and with Hollywood’s general love affair with these unique stars, followed by a morning after that would break any girl’s heart, it’s hard to imagine the kind of career longevity an Oscar nod – or win – should entail.

On the flip side, the argument could be made that these girls are trailblazers for Hollywood making more of the type of movies that feature unique exceptions to the movie star rule. Would Precious have been made without stars like Queen Latifah, Mo’nique, or Jennifer Hudson in the industry? Possibly not. If their success paved the way for a great talent (so far) like Gabourey, then I fully support it. But if Hollywood plans to steamroll these people after the general buzz has faded away, then we need to take a serious reality check, before the world becomes one walking waif.

- Britt’s On

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