The Thin Girl Gets The Guy (aka The Lie)


James-Marsden-in-27-Dresses-james-marsden-16713028-1067-800I went to see Book of Mormon on Broadway and during the performance I realised something: We’ve been sold a lie. Not the lie you’re thinking (although I’m not sure the musical did great things for the Mormon faith) but a different lie, one not present in musical theatre. The lie is a simple one: the pretty, thin girl gets the guy.

It’s a pretty easy lie to believe when it starts so early on. With fairytales, cartoons, Disney and Barbie. Then on to teen shows, shows we all watch wishing we were like those characters. Dawson’s Creek, 90210. Shows that reinforce the view being pretty and thin means you’ll get the guy.

I remember doing my hair the way they did, wearing the clothes they did, thinking if I bit my lip when I talked or stood a particular way I’d be able to win over the guy too. I was far too old when I realised that girl isn’t even getting the guy. She only gets him because that’s the way the story goes. I always knew it was scripted, but it was a long time before my subconscious admitted it.

We take it in without even realising. We absorb it. We believe it.

DawsonCreek-002Yet in musicals, on Broadway, there doesn’t seem to be the same standard. The main girl in this one wasn’t a size 8. She had a bit of a belly. Another was much bigger, and it wasn’t part of her role or somehow used as comic fodder. It was never once acknowledged. She just was.

It was half way through the first act I realised how refreshing it was for the way someone looked to be completely ignored. And only a few seconds before I realised how sad it was that was refreshing.

There is so much out there telling us the same thing over and over: to be loved, to be worthy, you have to look a certain way, be a certain thing.

But you don’t. We’ve been sold a lie. And we buy it. Over and over again. We believe this construct that has been created purely to sell us things. To sell us makeup, clothes, hair dye, diet products. To make us believe if only we had that or were that, we would be worthy. We would be able to be loved.

But it’s bullshit.

You are beautiful. You are worthy. You don’t need to buy the lie.

What lies do you believe? Have you ever changed the way you did something because of a movie? 

Images: 1, 2

  • iamevilcupcake

    Oh how I want to agree with you on this. Unfortunately it’s not a lie. Well not in my case. Even if you take the media and entertainment out of the picture, you are left with real life, and to be honest it’s no fun.

    People are so prejudiced against overweight people. I get laughed at, whispered about and insulted daily. It doesn’t matter that I have a pretty face (I think I have a pretty face, but whatever), people can’t get past that I’m fat. Society says that fat = ugly so therefore I’m hideously ugly, and I’m worthless.

    Society tells me I’m unworthy of love. Not the media, not entertainment, not commercials. The everyday people I come across. Those who point and laugh at me. Those who tell me not to bother with dressing up and wearing makeup because it’s a waste. Those who tell me I’ll never find love again until I’m thin. And you know what? They are right. I’ve been single for almost 4 1/2 years.

    Ugh. I hate people. They are horrible.

    • Tamsin Howse

      I hear what you’re saying, however I believe society got it from somewhere. It wasn’t that long ago, evolutionarily speaking, that being overweight was considered a sign of great wealth and great fortune.

      Society as a whole has been sold the lie. And no matter how many people try to enforce it on a daily basis, it still isn’t true.

      • John James

        Yeah, it’s true – this idea that thin is beautiful is largely a 20th Century invention… all you need to do is look back at all those classical nudes of woman… they are voluptuous and round, not thin… the 20th Century has a lot to answer for when it comes to body-image…

        • Tamsin Howse

          Agree with you completely. I will add, however, that there’s another reason nudes are very rarely thin women – large women are a LOT easier to draw and a lot more pleasing to the artistic eye.

          • John James

            I wonder if photography has something to do with it… maybe the camera loves thin people more than painting? It seems to me, this change in body-image ideals coincided with the invention of photography….

            … and then the invention of the Size Zero coincided with the invention of photo-shop…

    • John James

      Cuppy – I know this won’t help, but I do want to point out that being lonely is not just the preserve of the overweight – or any body-type for that matter.

      I was single between the ages of 22 and 27 – 5 years – I was also at my thinnest between those ages. I was at my loneliest during the time when I was actually at my most physically attractive… it was my personality that was the problem…

      Now one thing I know about you is that you have a wonderful personality… I know it sucks to be alone, but I also have no doubt that someone will fall in love with you one day because …well, why wouldn’t someone fall in love with someone cool like you?!

      • iamevilcupcake

        I know loneliness is not purely linked to weight. But my worth as a person is (not by me of course). People only see my weight. They don’t see that I’m actually doing something about it. They see my weight and make snap judgements, she’s lazy, she eats to much. I can’t eat in public without being laughed at, even if it’s a salad. People who say they are my friends think it’s ok to say tactless comments about my weight “because they love me”. I’m told I’ll never amount to anything. I’m told not to bother trying. While not being in a relationship is a big thing for me, there is so much other shit I have to deal with on a daily basis, purely because “out there” in the real world fat = ugly.

        • John James

          Yep – I don’t want to sound like I was dismissing any of that either – that is awful, that is wrong. :(

        • melinka

          You deserve better friends than those who only see your weight Cuppy :(

          People who know you and value you as a person honestly won’t care. Nor be condescending because “they love you”. Bullshit. You’re fine just as you are.

  • John James

    It’s kind of strange isn’t – when we settle down with our partners of choice, I think most of us (hopefully) do so because we like who they are – sure, sexual attraction comes into play, and we all have our preferences when it comes to the types of bodies we find attractive – but the heart wants what the heart wants – I mean, look at me. I fell in love with someone 17 years older than me. I’m now 47, she’s 65. I still love her as much now as I did 20 years ago. How often to you see my kind of relationship in a Hollywood film? (And no, any film about the sexy cougar yummy-mummy doesn’t count.)

    It’s rare to see love stories in popular media that fall outside the thin and attractive girl meets that tall muscular chiselled boy scenarios… there are some, but they are the exceptions… the thing is, when we do see the exception in a Hollywood film, it’s always marketed as “heart-warming” or “a love that overcomes prejudice” or whatever, instead of just being marketed as being something “normal”…

    When it come to attraction and relationships, there is no normal!

  • Surely Sarah

    I think this lie about what beautiful actually is, is the reason I was so flabbergasted when I met my husband and he loved me. Imperfections and all! I was actually SHOCKED that someone could adore me unconditionally with not only my physical “faults” but my emotional ones too. Amazing when I think about it, and so crazy.

    • Tamsin Howse

      Unconditional love is one of the best things in the world xx

  • melinka

    This by far and away is my favourite post by you T.

    In fact, I think it’s the best thing you’ve ever written on here. Looking the right way (whatever the hell that is) won’t make you happy. Being accepting of yourself, and striving to be a better person, that will bring much more happiness than fitting in to a stereotype.

    And yes, I know that attractive people get treated better, are unconsciously favoured. Doesn’t make them happy – that can only come from the person. Nor am I saying that being a size 8 and being able to fit into some Sass & Bide (hell, being able to AFFORD it ;)) wouldn’t be nice, but it’s one reality and a pretty shallow one at that. The real world always creeps back in and the same old problems are there.

    Looks are nice, but we all age and some ‘attractive’ people become profoundly less so once you get to know them. And vice versa. Short, tall, thin, fat, attractive, plain: it makes no difference. I value kindness above anything – if I can surround myself with people who are kind, who turn their gaze out at the world, and who have a decent sense of the absurd … well… I’d be surrounded by absolute stunners :)

  • Maree Talidu

    I had plenty of male interest and steady relationships when I was a size 10 at over 6ft tall with an enviable rack. When I gained 30kg after an operation, all male attention ceased and I became the ‘funny tomboy chubby girl’ who had heaps of male friends: but none that showed interest in me any further than that. It can’t be a coincidence. I went from underweight to overweight in 3 months (which really screws with your mind) and what do ya know? I somehow went from desirable to the exact opposite. Now I’m back in the healthy weight range, but I still have more to lose, I am starting to get compliments and attention from guys. This annoys me because I was the same person on the inside the whole time. Not interested in guys who couldn’t be interested in a ‘bigger’ me. Rather be single.