Forbes Says Hollywood Should Push More "Mixed Weight" Relationships And The Comments Are Wild

A writer for Forbes recently complained that there aren't enough "mixed weight" romances in movies and television. The internet was quick to respond.

By Carmen Schober2 min read

Virgie Tovar's bio says that she's one of the leading "weight bias experts" in the nation.

In her recent Forbes article, she speculates that too many consumers are beholden to "fatphobia" to appreciate the beauty of "mixed weight" relationships. She builds her case on a complaint from an overweight woman who shared her distress on Instagram that some people thought the romance between Penelope Featherington (played by actress Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (played by Luke Newton) in Bridgerton was unrealistic.

"One thing I know for 100% certainty, is that fat people have and always will be loved & lusted after," concluded the complaint.

Tovar argues that the latest Bridgerton plotline "creates friction around the socially acceptable limits of desire and desirability, doing what Shonda Rhimes does best – unveiling unsettling truths about human relationships. In this case, the truth is that thin people (yes, dare I say, even straight men with cash and cachet) desire, love and marry people who are larger than they are all of the time."

The season was popular, suggesting that many Bridgerton fans weren't overly concerned about "mixed weight" ideology and just wanted to get their Regency romance fix. However, some critics disagreed with Tovar's claim and identified the depiction as a modern female fantasy form of subversion.

"Coughlan is an actress of great value, and might be adored, but she is simply not plausible as the friend who would catch the handsome rich aristocrat Colin Bridgerton’s eye in that way," Zoe Strimpel for The Spectator wrote in an article titled "Bridgerton’s Big Fantasy."

"She is not hot, and there is no escaping it," added Strimpel. "As I was reminded recently when she graced Harper’s Bazaar’s cover in a fabulous outfit that still did not change her not-hotness. She’s not shapely – which can work as sexy even in Hollywood; she’s fat. There’s nothing wrong with fat – it’s hardly a moral shortcoming – but a zest for equality and diversity (and in this case good acting) just isn’t enough to make a fat girl who wins the prince remotely plausible. In the cruel visual semantics of the screen, poor plump Penelope may be set up to win her man, but will she win her audience? The jury, dear reader, is still out.”

Tovar claims this perspective is rooted in "fatphobia," and that more overweight people need to be coupled with thin people to break down oppressive power structures.

Responses on social media were mixed, with some praising Coughlan as a beautiful "fat icon," while others disagreed with the call for more performative activism in film.

"Mixed weight? what is this, the UFC??" read one comment.

"They are just making up as they go along now," wrote one person. "It's the weight gap," wrote another."

Others pointed out that "mixed weight" relationships have already been normalized in television and film, but it's more common for the man to be the overweight one.

Some claimed this pattern is because of "sexism," while others countered that it's simply a more common occurrence in real relationships. Alternatively, some suggested that it's just an equally problematic reversal of an equally unrealistic fantasy.

"Average, overweight men securing relationships with beautiful women is now being flipped to average, overweight women securing relationships with beautiful men," explained one person. "Regardless of which fantasy you prefer, neither one is the norm."

Maybe the best response isn't for producers to push ideologies or fantasies through relationships but rather to tell such good, edifying stories that viewers don't even notice who weighs what.

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