Hollywood is an industry built on body image. We all know this. But who defines which body images should be praised and which images should be ridiculed?
According to a recent study, which was featured on RunWayRiot, weight is mentioned in more Hollywood scripts than you would think. These statistics from Bulimia.com, whose staff read though 1,223 scripts that spanned the last 90 years of film making. They scanned each script looking for mentions of weight, size, and any characters whose names had to do with their body type. The study discovered that out of 1,223 film scripts studied, “707 contained at least one of the following terms: fat, fatty, chunky, big boned (combined with big-boned), chubby, husky, obese, overweight, plump, portly, and stout.”
That puts 707 size mentions out of 1,223 scripts right around %58 — that's more than half of every script they read. The study also broke down which films mentioned weight the most, with “Drive Angry” coming in at 31 mentions in its 104 minute script. That means weight was brought up every three and half minutes. Isn't that movie about cars and not body size? “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” came in second, which makes sense, considering the presence of a character named “Fat Bastard”.
They also categorized which film genres discuss weight the most, and comedies came in number one. Why is fatness so funny anyway?
Lastly, they ranked all of the actors who had lines in those scripts, and totaled who said the most about body size. These results may surprise you. Billy Murray ranked the highest, with an average of 7.67 weight-related mentions per script. Brian Cox came in at 6.71 weight references, Tom Sizemore made 6.33 mentions, and Tom Cruise made 5.83. The most shocking part about these statistics is that I don't remember a single time any of these actors made references to obesity, fatness or any kind of body size. Does that mean it happens so often I have become immune to its frequency?
Bulimia.com concludes their study with some closing thoughts:
“Regardless of gender, weight, and body image, one thing is clear: The big screen simply serves to magnify the weighty conversations that occur in everyday life. It may be a common reality, and indeed we draw humor from it regularly, but it”s fundamentally tragic – not comical – that anyone would feel compelled to joke about their weight to dodge public scrutiny and derision. In many of these instances, people are clearly masking pain – pain that in some cases may spur development of disordered eating, potentially leading to conditions such as anorexia. Others may turn to compulsive exercise, and other purge behaviors associated with bulimia.”
Do you think Hollywood has a body image problem? Do you think weight is something that should be mentioned, addressed, and possibly made fun of in films? Or do you think it's silly to even care if a movie makes a fat joke? One thing is for sure — Hollywood worships aesthetic — body image, body type, body color — when that changes, we may actually become a much more well-rounded (pun intended) society.