After losing some regulars last season—Abby Elliott, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Jason Sudeikis (maybe)—Saturday Night Liveannounced the three new cast members who'll be joining the show's 38th season. One of the three is Aidy Bryant, a Second City alum who just happens to be fat. Though SNL has long showcased the work of funny fat men like Chris Farley, Horatio Sanz, and Kenan Thompson, Bryant is the show's first-ever fat female hire. Hooray!
Outside the world of runway models, a degree of fatness is desirable--but only in certain places. We talked about desirable fat body configurations, but what about that gray area dividing thin women from fat known as "voluptuousness"? Society is willing to accept fat body parts, but distribute it throughout your entire body and watch folks retreat.
Sometimes it seems like we're bombarded by study after study telling us fat girls that unless we fit a certain body type, we're doomed to be relegated to the "unattractive" bin. If your fat happens to settle into an "hourglass" or "pear" shape, your fat is more likely to be seen as "OK" by the dominant culture.
A little over two years ago, "World's Fattest Man" Manuel Uribe married his fiance Claudia Solis to the clucking dismay of fat haters everywhere. How could she be sexually attracted to someone so fat? How do they even have sex? When the answer to the latter question came in, you could almost see the horrified faces: His friends constructed a "sex ramp" that enabled him to consummate his marriage. The idea of fat people having sex has long been a source of asshole-ish commentary and thinly veiled (if you're lucky) disgust. And yet, we fat people keep going on and getting it on.
Fat women's sexuality is often joked about, and when it's not being joked about, it's being vilified. As fat women we get the cultural messages that convince us no one would want us sexually in the state we're in; mass media reinforces these ideas by portraying fat women's sexuality in a mocking way or as distasteful and unappealing. The almost violent pushback against any positive image of fat female sexuality is at once disturbing and also understandable. Understandable because in a society that views fat women's bodies as disgusting and their selves unworthy of love, any media that challenges that deeply ingrained belief is dangerous and can be the source of much cognitive dissonance if the portrayal happens to stir some kind of sexual attraction in the consumer.