As many of you know, Gertrude Yorkes is probably one of my favorite Marvel characters of all time. And as many of you also know, I am strongly in favor of the nuanced representation of overweight people in media.
But before I get into why I’m so annoyed with Marvel and it’s representation of people who are fat, I will say that none of my ire is directed Ariela Barer as a person. She is a talented extra, and I don’t begrudge people taking a job they earned.
That being said, I’m pretty disgusted that one of the major parts of Gert’s personality is the fact that she is overweight and doesn’t give a fuck… in fact, no one does comment on it unless they are clearly being portrayed as a villain in the series.
For those of you who are not familiar, she is usually drawn with varying amounts of weight, but this to me is the best representation of Gertie:
What bothers me is that Ariela Barer is not even a little overweight… and it offends me that a casting director would cast someone of her stature as Gert. So many chubby teenage girls could have a role model in her, and I feel like we’ve been robbed of that.
I’ve gone over my reasons why “fat representation” is important in my article about Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, so I’ll let those who want to go more in depth about my feelings, do so by clicking on the link.
For everyone else, the TLDR is this: too often, overweight people are made to feel inferior because they have a different body type. They don’t see themselves represented, and when they do, it’s more often than not in a very negative light (they are portrayed as lazy, greedy, and over-eating, which is frankly not really the case for most). So when I see an overweight character get cast as a clearly thinner person, I feel like I need stand up and say “What the hell?” because seriously… what the hell?
I may never understand our society’s gross relationship with body image, but I do know that the best way to fix it is through representation. So, hey! Marvel! I don’t want anyone to get fired or anything, but maybe let’s think about that next time when you cast a person to play one of your overweight characters. Oh, and maybe have more body types in the comics too while you’re at it, that would be cool. If comic books are supposed to make your everyday, average Joe feel extraordinary, maybe start with actually giving us actual everyday, average Joe characters instead of feeding us impossible standards.