There's a storyline on Glee involving Puck, the hot, mohawk-sporting bad boy of the school, and Lauren Zises, a quippy smartmouth on the wrestling team who doesn't really hang with the popular kids. On the surface, the relationship doesn't sound "hilarious," "weird" or "uncomfortable," but that's how it's being described. Because Zises is played by Ashley Fink, a decidedly full-figured actress, or BBW, if you prefer. She's not the type typically cast on teen-oriented shows about high school; no one is over a size four on Gossip Girl, 90210 or even Skins. Yet she does have a body type you might actually see in an American high school.
In an interview conducted before the relationship got more serious, TV Squad said to Fink, "We hear that Puck might be more into Lauren than he thought he would be." The subtext of the question: How do you feel about the hot guy being a chubby chaser? Fink answered: "Well, Lauren is pretty irresistible… How could you resist Lauren?" And added: "I think there's a really hilarious chemistry between Puck and Lauren. I think he's a badass, she's a badass. I don't know, I think they're funny together. There's something about the two of them together that I like."
Since then, Puck has aggressively wooed Zises, causing a minor commotion among Glee enthusiasts — and fat people. Rosie O'Donnell said:
"It really, really strikes a chord with every overweight woman I know… Every woman I know who's heavy has strong feelings about that storyline. They're like, 'Can you believe that? I think that's horrible. That never happens in school… That character is so unlikable. Why didn't they get a pretty heavy girl? They should've gotten someone beautiful like Brooke Elliot.' I'm like, 'Every story deserves to be told. And the way that you're relating to it means that it's doing its job. It's evoking a lot of emotion inside of you.'"
Fink responded with a level head, saying: " I love Rosie and I respect her opinion, so all I can say is that some of her comments were strange to me. But she was supportive originally, and I think she's still supportive."
Click to viewThe two eventually made up via Twitter, and when Fink was on Extra with Mario Lopez on Wednesday, she told him that she and Rosie were planning on going to karaoke together. (Definitely click and watch the video — Ashley Fink is ridiculously charming.)
But the fact remains: Some people can't wrap their minds around the idea that a fat person can be sexy. On TV.com, regarding an episode in which Puck and Zises talk about making a sex tape, Seth Abramovitch writes, "There was something really gross about this plot to me… why does Puck and Lauren's relationship always make me want to hurl?"
And this issue isn't only Glee-related, of course. A recent blind item on Gawker read,
"This actor, known mostly for his great hair and good looks over his acting ability, might surround himself with stick thin supermodels at times, but we're told he has a ‘big girl fetish.' He scours the internet for listings and photos of lovely, big, and curvaceous women and hooks up with them whenever possible!"
Is the "shocker" that this man likes some cushion in the pushin', or that he feels he has to hide it? One commenter rightly pointed out: "a fetish is a sexual interest in something non-sentient, like an object or a certain body part. Being attracted to larger women is not a fetish." Another noted, "So 60% of Americans are considered clinically obese but it is considered a fetish when someone wants to boink a fat chick?"
Writer Tasha Fierce is tackling some of these issues on the Bitch website in a series called Sex and The Fat Girl. She recently declared:
In real life dating, as in pop culture, fatness is often treated as something a person has to overcome in order to be considered an acceptable romantic partner. The trope of the fat girl with the "great personality" ("great personality" being a common code phrase for "ugly" or "fat") who triumphs over dating adversity and finds a date who is able to see past the fat is commonly used in movies, television, and pretty much any other form of entertainment.
But on Glee, Puck isn't into Zises despite her body — he's into her body. Oh, it didn't start out that way — at first he was repulsed by her; he once mused, "I could have any girl I wanted… and the only girl I've got my eye on is a whole lot of woman." But now, the fact that she's "a whole lot of woman" is what he likes about her. Finding someone who is fat sexy is not a fetish. It's not weird. It's not even uncommon. it's just that we usually don't see it on TV (unless, you know, it's a chubby guy and a ridiculously hot woman! Then it's your average sitcom.) Although our culture often treats it as such, fat is not a punchline, a flaw or even an obstacle. As Ashley Fink herself says:
"I dated the cutest guy in high school. I had mad swagger!"
Is It Okay to Find Glee's Plus-Sized Character, Lauren Zizes, Gross? [TV.com]
Ashley Fink Dishes To Extra About Her Hookup On Glee [Extra]
Rosie O'Donnell Vs. "Glee"‘s Ashley Fink [The Frisky]
"Glee" Star Ashley Fink Talks To The Advocate About Her Connection To Gays And Rosie's Harsh Comments [Greg In Hollywood]
Which Actor Is Into Plus-Sized Women? [Gawker]
Sex and the Fat Girl: She's Got a Great Personality [Bitch]