I do not keep it a secret that I love the show Lost. My friends also do not keep it secret how much they they think that’s silly. One’s favorite joke is always “Boom will be hosting a meet-up for Lost fans at the convention, so if you want to hang out with one other person, you should totally go to that.”
It was not really a surprise, then, when a package showed up at my door and I open it up to find a Hugo “Hurley” Reyes doll that my friend Greg bought for me at NYCC.
The Hurley doll, like most of the Lost dolls, is kind of creepy, and not that great at representing his character in any way, as you can see:
Weird as it looked, I fooled around with it like a child does. So naturally, I lifted up his shirt.
The first thing I discovered was the shirt was padded, which made me even more curious. Cautiously, I tugged it upwards to see what’s underneath, and dear god…
Initially, I thought it was pretty funny. But as the implications of his well-defined chest set in, so did the bitter pangs of sadness. The truth was that people like Hurley are so underrepresented that they couldn’t even make a doll for his body type. Instead, they took an “ideal” doll, stuck his head on, and padded out his shirt. Voila. Now we have a fat person.
It was offensive when they did it in Shallow Hal, it was offensive when they did it with Monica in Friends, and it’s still offensive now. Underneath every person is not a skinny thing just waiting to emerge if they just ate more carrots and drank less soda. How about casting actually overweight people and then not making fun of it? Just a thought.
Well fuck that. We need more people like Hurley on television. We need to normalize every kind of body type, because if we think everyone is that ripped specimen he is under his padded shirt, we are in for a whole lot of self-hatred. Not everyone can look that way, no matter how hard they work, and it’s toxic to suggest otherwise.
And trust me, I know all about it.
I am a girl that is constantly hovering on the line of overweight despite eating half the calories of everyone else, and exercising everyday.I even go to a health and wellness counselor to make sure I stay on track. You would think this would do wonders for my body, but it doesn’t. I’m cursed wit hypothyroidism, a slow metabolism, but the ability to probably run faster and longer than you.
Really, I have a a serious illness. It’s called constantly-trying-to-have-an-“acceptable-body type”-when-my-body-can’t.
Truth is, I’m always hungry, and moody, and my energy is so fucking low it’s laughable. I count my calories, and can’t stop looking in mirrors and reflections of store windows to see if I’ve gained weight. I can run 5Ks, hike 14ers, and survive Zumba classes yet somehow people look at me and think I’m not healthy… and it’s my fault. I’m not even obese, so I can’t even imagine what that is like for people heavier than me.
Oh wait. I can. Because I was obese in highschool into college… and that was doing marching band every day, counting calories, and enduring my mother’s countless comments on how she just wanted me to be healthy. It took a severe decrease in calories with the help of dangerous drugs to get me down to just overweight… then I starved for five years before I got a year-long illness that precluded me from exercising, and eating was the only way I could feel slightly better.
I know if someone made a doll of me, it would be the perfect Barbie with a padded shirt. Sadly, that thought makes me want to work out more, and eat less…. which is so goddamn wrong it’s unbelievable I’m still doing it. Some things are really hard to unlearn, and they start as early as the toys you play with, and the people you see on television.
What I’m saying isn’t new. We’ve been talking about how Barbie is unrealistic standard for years, and we hear stories from people about how their doctor’s miss really serious medical issues because the blame all symptoms on weight when it’s fact something totally unrelated.
Don’t believe me? Read Your Fat Friend. She’s my hero.
What worries me is that when we actually have good representation for people who are bigger than the ideal standard, we can’t even make a doll that appropriately represents them.
Of course, I may be too harsh on my Hurley toy. After all, the other dolls in the series are a hot mess.
But then again… Hurley was amazing. If Lost were a game, he won it. He literally is leader supreme at the end, and he can’t even get a proper action figure. It took the poor man three seasons to make the other characters stop making weight jokes about him.
And I look around now that Lost is over, particularly at science fiction shows, and I don’t see anyone like him… and that makes me tremendously sad. Why don’t we see more variety of body types on television, when we look around in our everyday lives, and in the mirrors, and know that they exist?