"The fat best friend" as a stereotype is alive and well in this country but not on our televisions.
As someone who has filled the role of fat best friend for her whole life, I can tell you from experience it is not just a stereotype, but a reality. When the FBF is best friends with another girl, she fills the role of someone who will always be there because she doesn't have a life of her own, someone to talk about boy problems with because she doesn't have a boyfriend of her own, someone to shop with even though she can't buy clothes from the same store you can, and someone who will always be there because where else is she going to be? When the FBF is best friends with a guy, she fills the role as a de-feminized girl, someone you can talk to like another guy but who somehow magically knows about women. Someone who will be a standby date if nothing else pans out. Someone who you never think about in "that way".
Yeah, I sound bitter. Because I am.
I talked to a friend from college yesterday who I have not spoken to in nearly three years. She had been trying to get ahold of me for months but I just never had the energy to engage her in a conversation. But yesterday I picked up when she called and she told me all about her boy problems and how she has gained so much weight and how all of her friends were either married or in couples and how she blamed her singleness on her recent weight gain. And she never once asked me if I was seeing someone. She just wanted me to commiserate with her weight gain and loneliness. Because that it how she will forever see me. Fat and alone.
I racked my brain trying to come up with examples of the fat best friend on television. I came up with Natalie on the Facts of Life and Carmen on Popular. I am guessing there must be more, but I can't think of any right now. (Maybe you guys can think of some). Because the American public doesn't want to see fat people on Television.
But everyone knows that. "TV fat" is when size 8's are made to seem obese next to the size 2 stars, and that is the representation of fat people we get as a reflection of ourselves on television. But I wouldn't have even bothered to write this post if I hadn't stumbled across a clip on youtube (shown below).
I am outing myself right now as a closeted fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. That's right. I'm a huge Buffy enthusiast. Pun intended. I enjoyed seven years worth of slaying, sarcasm, friendship, apocalypses, and hot vampire sex. But I never knew that Willow, Buffy's best friend was originally supposed to be a fat best friend. Sure, she was only TV fat, but she was fat none the less.
I am totally disappointed with Joss Whedon. I really think he could have kept Willow as a chubby girl and made her character even more complex and interesting. Sure, there was nothing great about the girl in the Pilot, but Joss could have stuck with the concept and shopped around for a different better chunky Willow. And to those of you who are huge Alyson Hannigan fans, I have nothing against her. I just like to watch fat people on TV and Alyson's Willow is as wispy as they come.
I know it's strange that I am simultaneously complaining about how much I hate what the role of fat best friend means while at the same time promoting the idea of having more FBF's on television, but I don't think it has to be a contradiction. Joss could have written chubby Willow to have her own storylines. Her own boyfriends and/or girlfriends. Chubby Willow could have been amazing. But she never had the chance.