Renee Zellwegger wearing fat suit is an insult to curvy women – & as bad as pretending to be black, says Vanessa Feltz

WHEN I first saw the pictures of Renee Zellweger wearing a fat suit for a new TV role, I was outraged.

The Oscar winner must be a svelte size 8 in real life, but for her portrayal of 62-year-old convicted killer Pam Hupp, a woman considerably larger than her, she has worn a heavy undergarment to give the impression she is fuller figured.


Renee, 52, is a good actress and I’ve got nothing against her personally, but for heaven’s sake, why can’t a plus-sized actress be hired to play a plus-sized character? It’s like we’re stuck in the dark ages.

This has got to stop — it is really insulting to everyone. It is the equivalent of putting on dark make-up and pretending to be a person of colour in the theatre.

People think, and quite rightly too, this is an absolutely dreadful thing to do, so why don’t we feel the same when someone wears a fat suit?

These days there would be a huge public outcry if you did anything but hire a Chinese actor to play a Chinese role and the same for a black actor for a black role, or a Jewish person for a Jewish role.

Renee isn’t the first actress to act as a large woman, and I’m sure she won’t be the last, but why haven’t we moved on? It’s so dated.

In 2001, Gwyneth Paltrow, 49, starred in the movie Shallow Hal and wore an unflattering fat suit. It got blasted at the time for being fatphobic, and Gwyneth even later admitted that it was a total disaster.

And I wholeheartedly agree.

They should use someone bigger and beautiful like Melissa McCarthy, 51, to play a role like this, or Chrissy Metz who stars in the TV series This Is Us.

She is exactly what it should be, a large lady playing a large lady and you can tell she plays it so well.

So, why hasn’t Hollywood put a stop to it? It seems like it’s down to pure laziness or an unwillingness to broaden the net and to look beyond the dozen or so actresses they always think of for every single part.

I don’t know if it even occurs to casting directors that finding an actress who is a bit more substantial to play the part of a larger woman would be so much more convincing.

Fat suits are a pathetic insult to all voluptuous women

The thing about fat suits is that they are prosthetics which don’t have the same movement as a real person and are very unconvincing.

They are stiff, unyielding and don’t look anything like a large person. It’s like walking on stilts — certainly not how people really walk.

Wouldn’t it be better to cast someone who will play the part properly and in a way the public can relate to?

When you see the way Gwyneth walks and talks in Shallow Hal, you see a total lack of expression. It’s just like a caricature. It is a pastiche of being fat.

Fat people are being made the butt of the joke, and are not being taken seriously enough.

Take Monica, played by thin-as-a-pin Courteney Cox, 57, in Friends when she wore a fat suit, for example.

In season two, Monica’s backstory hinges on her being overweight since childhood. In the flashbacks she is seen sloppily eating in ill-fitting clothes while the audience laughs at her.

She is portrayed as a figure of derision, a total embarrassment and nightmare to herself. How awful is that? And terribly cruel.

Fat suits are a pathetic insult to all voluptuous women. However big or small you are, you are exactly the same person on the inside and your heart, soul and feelings are the same.

I remember on one of the numerous occasions I lost a lot of weight when I was yo-yo dieting, people would make some really hurtful comments.

Fat people are being made the butt of the joke, and are not being taken seriously enough

They would say: “Underneath all of that, I can see what you really look like.” Or, “Once you’ve shed all that fat, I can see you’re actually very pretty.”

A larger woman is just as real as a slim woman. It’s also this idea that being thin equals happiness. But I have been at my absolute happiest when I have been my largest self, a size 22.

When I was relaxing and heartily tucking into some food, I was my real self.

These days I am relatively thin — probably a size 12 — but I only got there by having a gastric bypass in 2019, which is a pretty drastic operation to have.

So did having a gastric bypass reveal the real me? I am just as much me now as I was before.

My feelings haven’t changed, I still like the same things as I did before.

You don’t suddenly become more yourself when you lose weight.

Gwyneth said that no one would make eye contact with her when she wore the fat suit, and that they were really dismissive.

It is true, people spoke to me after I lost weight as if they now wanted to be my friend, or even ask me out on a date as if it was supposed to be some kind of compliment.

It was rude as hell.

Getting actresses to wear fat suits feeds into the notion that fat people don’t have real feelings because the real person inside of them is the thin person and the fat one is a mistake

But the truth is, some people shun those they think are fat because they believe they are unproductive or not disciplined.

Try telling that to Adele, 33, who until she lost all this weight seemed to have done pretty well at a larger size.

Getting actresses to wear fat suits feeds into the notion that fat people don’t have real feelings because the real person inside of them is the thin person and the fat one is a mistake.

Even Sarah Paulson, 46, has spoken out on how she regrets wearing a fat suit in her recent series Impeachment.

Sarah should feel embarrassed by what she has done. She has taken work away from other actresses who deserved it.

Actors should only play parts where they share the same physical attributes as the character.

A larger woman is just as real as a slim woman. It’s also this idea that being thin equals happiness. But I have been at my absolute happiest when I have been my largest self, a size 22

If you are casting someone with a disability, find someone who has one.

Casting a gay character? Get somebody who is gay to play them.

And, of course, you should get somebody of a specific race, background or heritage to play a role that is based on those attributes.

It is acting, and to some extent pretending, but authenticity will always shine through.

AS TOLD TO YASMIN HARISHA




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