Stranger Things fans are currently stressing over whether their favourite character – such as Robin, Eddie, or heaven forbid Steve – is for the chop in the season four two-part finale. But we must also remember the fallen, such as Billy, Bob, and one of the most shocking – Barb. Nancy’s best friend didn’t get much screen-time, leading to cries of ‘Justice for Barb!’ when the jaw-dropping season one death happened.
Now, Shannon Purser, who played Barb, is calling out Hollywood’s anti-fat bias. It seems that not a day goes by without a new movie or TV show being announced or coming out that features an actor in a fat suit. Tom Hanks wears one in Elvis, Chris Hemsworth controversially wore one as ‘Fat Thor,’ and the latest ruckus is because newly-released images reveal that Emma Thompson wears one to play Miss Trunchbull in the upcoming Matilda musical.
Purser has addressed the issue by tweeting; “they’re not hiring fat actors for iconic fat characters because they want a ‘big name’ star. There are almost no fat ‘big name’ stars because fat actors aren’t allowed upward mobility. We aren’t allowed upward mobility because the industry sees us as two-dimensional set pieces.”
Hollywood actors, especially women, who fall outside a particular size and shape are few-and-far between, particularly when it comes to headlining a movie. Melissa McCarthy is the only one who immediately comes to mind, and even then, it’s rare for her to branch outside of comedic roles. Comedies tend to be one of the few places you do find fat actors, and they can often be the butt of the joke.
As long as fat suits are a thing still used in movies and television shows, they will continue to court controversy, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s also related to traditionally attractive actors like Colin Farrell donning heavy prosthetics to play The Penguin, or Jared Leto becoming unrecognisable in the House of Gucci. If more actors who aren’t conventional-looking had more opportunities, maybe they would get these roles instead.