Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
Representation is important. From LGBTQ characters, to characters of color, and to characters with disabilities, there’s a need for more representation across the board. Now, as an overweight comic book fan, it’s hard not to notice a lack of great overweight characters to look up to.
It’s even more frustrating, when a fantastic, overweight woman of color like Amanda Waller is portrayed by Viola Davis. For those of you who aren’t aware of the massive industry known as superhero movies going on the past couple years, Amanda “The Wall” Waller is a character from the upcoming DC Comics movie Suicide Squad. As great as it is to see a woman of color with a significant role, it’s disheartening not see someone with the physique that can match “the Wall” herself.
As such, here’s a look at our picks for some of the best overweight characters in all of fiction.
5. Wade – Kim Possible
Call me, beep me, if you want to reach me, says Kim Possible. What she doesn’t say is that the brilliant mind behind all her gadets, like the Kimmunicator itself, was made by one of the funniest and effective characters ever to grace animated television. His quirkiness, like never leaving his room, or hacking anything and everything, made him one of the most endearing in a cast that was already strong. Wade was so integral to the team, it’s unfortaunte that he was only a side character. One of the best moments of the entire series was the last season, when Team Impossible overloaded Wade’s system, finally letting us see Wade in action.
4. Fat Amy – Pitch Perfect
“You call yourself ‘Fat Amy’?”
“Yeah, so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back.”
It took just that exchange for Fat Amy to claim her spot on the top overweight characters ever. The writers did a fantastic job with this character, letting her be funny, confident, sexy, and human with her moments of insecurity and rage. From the get-go, Fat Amy made herself known as a major player in the Bellas and would take her seat at the table whether people liked the way she looked or not. It was refreshing to see someone demanding respect and not letting her looks define or detract from her capabilities, especially as a singer. Though the Bellas are desperate enough to recruit her, they all come to see who Fat Amy really is: a valuable asset not to be messed with. We’re looking at you, Bumper.
3. Rae Earl – My Mad Fat Diary
Not only is the representation of overweight characters important, but also the representation of mental illness. My Mad Fat Diary does both with Rae Earl, who—from the get go—emerges as one of the most real characters we could ever hope for on television. If you haven’t seen this British E4 Series, definitely check it out, because you’ll be hooked by the first episode with this great character. The teenagers of the show, especially Rae, go through real things: depression, self-harm, being self-conscious about their bodies in more ways than one, and struggling with finding out who they are. Rae and My Mad Fat Diary earns their spot on this list because they don’t shy away from the topic and make it central to Rae’s character development—they acknowledge this is a big part of her identity and the struggles that come with it and that allows people who don’t experience what it’s like to live overweight a chance to empathize.
Note — My Mad Fat Diary is based on the nonfiction book written by Rae Earl.
2. Amanda Waller – DC Comics
That’s right—the character that inspired this article isn’t number one. For those of you who don’t know, Amanda “the Wall” Waller is one of the most ruthless, powerful, and successful government agents the United States government ever employed. She’s a woman of color who isn’t afraid to let people know she’s in charge, and in charge she is, whether she’s staring Batman down or firing lasers at a rogue Lex Luthor. Though her moral guidance is questionable, Waller always has the American people’s best interests at heart, and it’s so fun to see someone so unlikely to be in such a powerful position. Everyone should aspire to be like Amanda Waller, regardless of her size.
Unfortunately, in her most recent appearances—in Arrow, DC Comics itself, and now Suicide Squad—she’s been portrayed by thinner, more mainstream attractive actresses. Again, while it’s nice to see representation beyond straight white male, it would be great to not give up one of the few fat women of color who can still go toe-to-toe with anyone and everyone.
1. Tracy Turnblad – Hairspray
If someone dared you to find a more positive character, despite the obstacles she faces because of her weight and size, you’d probably fail. Hairspray is probably one of the most important musicals, period, because we finally see a overweight heroine who’s happy, loved by her friends, and can rise above any hate that people throw her way. And while she does it all, she inspires those around her to love themselves. Not to mention that she gets the stereotypical attractive guy, proving that maybe there’s more to people than just their looks on both sides.
As you can see, there are kick-ass overweight characters, who can be just as successful as everyone else. Overweight representation is important, too. It’s good to remember that, especially when characters like Amanda Waller are slowly being lost, leaving no one who feels inadequate about their weight characters to look up to.
Updated: Corrected information about My Mad Fat Diary to reflect that it’s based on Rae Earl’s nonfiction book and is on E4.