Sarah Paulson’s Fat Suit Problem

Image Text: Excellent fat actors struggle to get good roles, so we don’t need thin actors wearing our bodies like a costume and cosplaying fat people.

In the upcoming series “”Impeachment: American Crime Story” Sarah Paulson plays Linda Tripp, wearing a fat suit. (Many of those defending this are calling it a “prosthetic” but, as Shakespeare once said, a fat suit by any other name would still be some harmful, fatphobic bullshit.)

David Oliver wrote about this in a piece for USA today in which I and several other fat activists are quoted.

When you give a quote for an article like this (in this case via email) it’s extremely common that they pull parts of it, break it up, etc. so for posterity, here is my full quote:

I’ll start by saying that I have been a fan of Sarah Paulson and I think she’s incredibly talented, I also know that there are equally talented fat actors who will never have the opportunities that Sarah Paulson has had, because there are so few roles for which they will be considered. I want a world where actors of all sizes get to play the lead, the romantic interest, the hero etc. but in the meantime, at the very least, I think that instead of having thin actors wear our bodies like a costume and cosplay fat people, fat actors should be cast in fat roles. This role should not have been offered to Sarah Paulson and, when it was, she should have said no and used her power and privilege to advocate for a fat actor to be cast.

You can read the full article here!


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5 thoughts on “Sarah Paulson’s Fat Suit Problem

  1. What’s really bizarre about this is, as Paul Campos elaborates on in The Obesity Myth, fatphobia was central to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Fatphobia was what the media used to portray Lewinsky, a grooming victim, as an insatiable and desperate seductress whose out-of-control appetites were destroying the poor innocent president. Fatphobia was used to code fatness as the weak point that made Clinton susceptible to the evil fatty siren’s seduction. And now fatphobia is being used to… pardon my lack of a better term… thin-wash the retelling.


    (It’s weird enough to watch younger people try to piece together stuff you lived through. It’s downright depressing to see what their biases are causing them to change, omit, or just plain not notice about those events. See: how many people say “fat people should be treated just like smokers!”, apparently unaware they’re suggesting we should all be given huge cash settlements for all the harm the diet industry KNEW its products and services caused us but actively concealed to stay in business and the public’s good graces).

    1. True. At the time, not only were there snickers about Linda Tripp’s plus-size figure, many people were astonished that the president would have found Monica Lewinski attractive, as she, too, was perceived as being slightly plus sized. I was in an elevator in NYC when some businessmen were joking about it, incredulous that Clinton would waste his time with her.

  2. So, when am I going to get my fat-pay?

    I think what they mean is shame them out of their bad behavior.

    And the money would supposedly come from, what, soda companies and Hostess, cause we know fat people ALL eat these things and thin people don’t.

    So, just the shame them. Oh, no, they want to fat tax, raise prices on “sin-food”, forced gym attendance, etc.

  3. Also noteworthy was some coverage of this by Bloomberg News that called out the casting for this as being fatphobic, and seemed to take a position in favor of casting fat actors for fat parts. They also quoted Sarah Paulson as being sympathetic with that view, but she of course stopped short of turning down the role.

  4. SAG needs to set guidelines for this. It can’t be up to the individual actors to refuse roles that are unethical, that’s what organizations like SAG are all about.

    1. If you’re being cast for a role and they ask you to wear a fat suit, NO, they should cast someone who has the look they need.

    2. If you’re returning for a sequel and the plot requires that your character aged and got fat, then OK

    3. If the fat suit is being used as a disguise plot element (Mrs. Doubtfire), still OK since it’s misdirection.

    The second one is OK because you don’t want to force writers to never write such a sequel plot element (to preserve the actor’s job),and second, you don’t want the actor to have to gain weight on purpose for the role. There are enough demands on actors to look a certain way already.

    Any reason why 2 or 3 would not be OK? Honest question.

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