Fatty and the City
Oh, Carrie… what silly adventures are you and your three thin and fashionable friends up to this time? Cheating spouses, sexless marriages, and being stood up at the altar, oh my! You also have to comfort Samantha, who struggles with her weight and gets fat-shamed, and you hire a fat personal assistant, who seems to be the only fat person in all of New York. Oh, how easy life would be if everyone were thin, rich, white, and knew how to match colors.Let’s set aside the fact that the Sex and the City quartet are rich, white women who have fabulous careers and enough money for designer labels. What we have been told since the show’s inception as a cable TV program is that they embody what a woman should strive to look like: thin.
Should one of the characters gain weight, she is shamed into conforming with the other three and loses the weight. We see examples of this throughout the TV show, but in the film it is Samantha who is shamed by gaining what looks like an extra three pounds.
She comes to visit the girls in New York and arrives wearing a shirt that shows off her mid-section. The tight pants she is wearing causes her stomach to very slightly pour over the top of the waistband. One of the guests they meet at a party exclaims, “Mother of God, what’s with the gut?! Well, she’s eating something out there…”
Honestly, if that character hadn’t pointed out her “gut,” I wouldn’t have even noticed it. I had to rewind the film and then pause it at the close-up of her stomach (and then squint my eyes really hard) to see this so-called gut. The girls then call a meeting to discuss how Samantha could have let herself go like that. Samantha says, “I guess I didn’t realize how big I was until I saw it on your faces,” with which Carrie replies, “How, and I say this with love, how could you not realize it?”
Maybe she didn’t realize it because it was only THREE POUNDS!!! A kitten weighs more than that! Seriously people, can you just back off and leave her and her extra three pounds alone? I think she looked better with the extra weight and I only wish she had gained more.
Carrie finds herself in an upside-down sort of life, and decides to hire a personal assistant to help her get organized. After several interviews, she settles on a fat African-American woman who tells her to “stick with me” and she’d get Carrie’s life all straightened out. Maybe it’s just me, but this reminded me of the archetype of the Mammy character.
Mammy was always portrayed as a fat, black woman who cared for white people by either cooking for them, raising their children, cleaning their homes, and/or running their households. I was kind of shocked by the racism of the situation but this is Sex and the City, after all, a show not known for it’s sensitivity to racial issues.
Carrie’s assistant, Louise (who is played by a pre-Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson) is an absolutely gorgeous woman who dresses fashionably and is proud of her attractiveness. She is a true “fatshionista” who rents her designer handbags and knows labels as well as any of the other women do. She whips Carrie’s apartment and website into shape, and fusses over her like a mother hen… or a Mammy. Although never once in the film was her weight mentioned, the audience understands that she is a small character, not to be taken too seriously, and added for a bit of optimism, comic relief, and maternal love.
I have to admit that I’ve never really been a fan of Sex and the City. It’s hard for me to get excited about clothes I will never be able to wear, apartments I will never be able to afford, men I will never have sex with, and people I will never be allowed to party with. I don’t agree with the standard of beauty set forth by the show and the film, and I don’t agree with the methods the characters use to make sure they all conform to that standard.
Sex and the City: The Movie is a racist, classist, sizeist, and, to some extent, sexist film. I cringed most of the way through it and felt a little ill and offended as I watched the credits roll. This was definitely not the film for me.