Warning!!!!!! This post contains spoilers about last week’s Glee (the episode named “Home”). You have been warned.
Glee is a show about stereotypical misfits – the obnoxious over-achiever, the girl with the stutter, the kid in a wheel chair, the gay boy, the pregnant teen, and the fat kid.
In the first season, all of these story lines were explored except one – the fat girl. The character of Mercedes Jones as played by Amber Riley.
…and I couldn’t figure out how I felt about that. Was I glad that they didn’t make a thing about her weight? Happy that it was assumed that she was talented and fashionable? Or was I irritated that every other kid got to have an episode of empowerment, but not Mercedes? Frustrated that they would be so unrealistic as to portray that her weight was never an issue in this culture? I went back and forth about this, talked it over with other friends in the size positive community, and I still couldn’t decide.
That all changed last week. It became apparent that they were going to do a story line about Mercedes’ weight. Mercedes joins the Cheerios (the school cheerleading squad) and the cheer coach tells her that she has to lose 10 pounds in a week. Her best friend tells her that Cheerios finally makes them cool and that she needs to lose the weight and not mess it up. She goes on a diet. I get nervous – I love this show and if they handle this in a way that is not size positive I know I will be heartbroken. I hold my breath. Mercedes stops eating and faints. Quinn (the pregnant former cheerleader) reminds Mercedes that she has always been comfortable in her own skin and that she should never let anyone take that away from her. Fast forward to a beautiful scene where she stands in front of her school and gives an incredible speech:
“So most of you know Cheerios is about perfection and winning, looking hot and being popular. Well I think that it should be about something different. How many of you at this school feel fat? How many of you feel like maybe you’re not worth very much, that you’re ugly, and you have too many pimples and not enough friends. Well I’ve felt all of those things about myself at one time or another. Hell I’ve felt most of those things about myself today. And that just ain’t right. And we’ve got something to say about it…”
Check it – a real, live, healthy, active, talented, confident fat character on a television show, being supported by her friends and teachers. How do I love Glee? Let me count the ways!