Chrissy Metz is redefining the way we see plus-size women onscreen. This started, of course, on NBC’s hit show This Is Us, where she plays a woman, Kate, dealing with painfully relatable body image issues. Kate’s one of the first plus-size characters in pop-culture who’s actually treated like a real person—not some caricature designed for ridicule or embarrassing slapstick humor. She’s nuanced and flawed and framed so empathetically that anyone who’s struggled with weight sees themselves in her. I know I do.
But seeing Kate fully realized onscreen doesn’t fix Hollywood’s plus-size representation problem. After all, her storyline is by and large still about weight, and that, in itself, is an issue. Plus-size people don’t spend every waking moment of their days agonizing over the scale or what they eat; they have jobs and friends and relationships. Some don’t even have an interest in losing weight at all. It’s great that Kate’s weight issues are addressed respectfully on This Is Us, but the next step is having them not exist at all or, at least, talked about less. Granted, this is happening—slightly—on This Is Us season two. Kate does have narratives, albeit minor ones, unrelated to her weight, but the undercurrent of her body issues still exists.
Maybe Chrissy’s new film role will change that, though. Deadline reports that the actress has been tapped to star in The Impossible, which is based on the real-account, faith-based book The Impossible: The Miraculous Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection. Metz will play Joyce, a mother whose 14-year-old son fell through a frozen lake in Missouri and was pronounced lifeless. However, she kept praying by her son’s bedside until his heart (miraculously) started beating again.
That’s all we know about her character for now, but from this description, it appears any weight or body-image storyline is minimal or nonexistent—and that’s huge. For the first time, it feels like Chrissy is being viewed as an actress who happens to be plus-size and not a “plus-size actress.” Her physical appearance is taking a back seat to her talent, which is what we all want at the end of the day: for the world to know that our bodies don’t define us, that we’re capable of doing anything (or, in Chrissy’s case, playing anything).
This role is a long time coming for her, who told Glamour a few months back that she was reading several “really great scripts” but not receiving “a ton of offers.” (We also reached out for comment on this latest news and will update if we hear back.)
“I have to say, there’s not a ton of [movie] offers,” she said. “But, for me, comedy is so important. Obviously, comedy stems from tragedy, so that’s something I always wanted to do. I thought that was really going to be my niche, and then American Horror Story happened and This Is Us happened. So I want to [cover] all the spectrum—from Kate to kooky, really outrageous characters, to heartfelt [roles]. But I have read a lot of really great scripts, so fingers crossed. There’s a lot of really amazing women and a lot of really talented people out there, so I believe what’s right for me is right for me. Hopefully, it will come around, and maybe I’ll just start writing myself. Who knows!”
Hopefully, Chrissy’s casting in this film leads to more diverse body representation in Hollywood too—specifically in rom-coms and action movies, where plus-size characters are virtually nonexistent. And I’m hoping this will give the This Is Us show runners a push to steer Kate’s narrative in a different direction. She’s so much more than her dress size or a number on the scale.
I’m certainly feeling empowered just from hearing this news. Culture has ingrained this warped notion in my mind that, no matter where I go, my body will always be an issue, that I can’t exist at a bar or restaurant or party without my weight being noticed. It’s like my size is the elephant in the room that I must address—or, in most cases, apologize for—before I’m deemed worthy of social interaction. The idea that people who look like me can exist in pop culture without their weight being acknowledged is comforting. On This Is Us Chrissy Metz held a mirror up to my body-image issues, and that was extraordinary. But now she’s doing something even more important with this film role (and the film roles to come): She’s giving me permission to just exist—unapologetically.
Taken from GLAMOUR US. Click here to read the original.
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