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Fat Actor or Simply an Actor?

February 13, 2012
by

I don’t have time to watch television very often these days. I am not complaining; feeling more wistful than victimized. I am fortunate that I am busy with activities that bring me, and hopefully those whose lives I impact, pleasure, knowledge, healing and support.  My work as a blogger, author, and “Walkie Talkie” therapist fill my days with meaning and passion, and little time for marinating in front of the tube.

I love television. It amazes me that I may have difficulty remembering where I left my keys or put my glasses, yet I can still remember my Saturday morning lineup from 1961 which began with an American Flag waving in the breeze, me singing the Star Spangled Banner, followed by watching Modern Farmer. Trust me, if a show about tractors and carbines could absorb a five-year-old girl’s attention, I must have REALLY loved television.

Other days I walk into a room and forget what I went in there for, but I can still sing every word of the theme song from Do Do the Kid from Outer Space and flawlessly mimic the English horn melody that introduced Davey and Goliath.

My parents must have also loved television, especially on those Saturday mornings from 5-9 a.m., as they savored the extra sleep provided to them by Crusader Rabbit and Sonny Fox’s Wonderama. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized the television kept going even when I wasn’t watching it. Typical of the magical thinking of a little kid, I assumed that when I turned off the TV, the programs stopped. And when the announcer said, “We now pause for station identification,” I thought he was saying, “station identivacation, and the whole show packed up their little suitcases and went away for five minutes and then came back to finish the program.

My awakening occurred circa 1964, when I awoke “in the middle of the night” (it was probably about 8:30 p.m.) from a nightmare and ran into my parent’s room where they were watching television. I couldn’t believe my eyes! There were shows on even when I wasn’t watching!?! How many shows were there? How long did a day’s programming last?

I crawled into bed with them and pretended to fall asleep while watching Perry Mason, That Was The Week That Was, and Candid Camera. Why do I remember that???!!!

I was in heaven. In heaven to the point where I believe I scared the wits out of my parents as I feigned nightmares several times a week in order to slip into their bed so as not to miss a new episode. When I overheard them talking about taking me to the doctor because they were worried about me, I knew the gig was up. Many years would pass before I was allowed to watch those “late night shows” on my own.

Like so many others in my generation, as time elapsed I witnessed the evolution of television in so many ways:  color TV, the increase of ads, the fads of sit-coms, doctor shows, cop shows and reality television. I lived through the injustices of great shows being canceled after one or two seasons, like Firefly, The Tick, and Chicago Code, while less-engaging shows like The Jersey Shore and The Biggest Loser, return season after season, like an irritating Energizer bunny.

One of my recent television fixations was the show, Lost. Yes, I was one of those people checking out the entries in “Lostpedia” and couldn’t wait to get back on the Island to see what would happen next. Even though I am among the group of fans who was disappointed by the final episode, I hold a special place in my TV heart for the series.

So when I saw that a new show by J.J. Abrams was being aired, I was intrigued. I was looking forward to weekly excursions to another island and, because I live in the Bay Area, I was even more excited because this time the island is Alcatraz. For Lostians who watch Alcatraz, there are “Abramsonian” touches immediately noticeable. The eerie smoke monster-like sound track noises, the time jumping sub plot, and Hugo (aka, Hurley). Yes, Jorge Garcia is back in a lead role in Alcatraz, and I couldn’t be happier.

For those of you who do not know who Jorge Garcia is, he is an actor (obviously), talented (in my opinion), originally from Omaha, Nebraska, born in 1973 (I had stopped sneaking into my parent’s bed by then), and oh, he’s fat.

There weren’t many fat characters on the Lost Island, and those who were, their fatness was not part of the plotline. The only times I remember Hurley’s weight mentioned during the series were in a flash back when he is shown eating a bucket of fried chicken while watching TV and his mom was telling him that he would never find a wife if he didn’t get out of the house; and after a few weeks living on the island, he mentioned that he needed to add a hole to his belt. But what could have developed into LOST ACTOR LOST WEIGHT… or… HUGO, NOT SO HUGE-O… or HURLEY LOST MORE THAN HIS WEIGH… never weaved its way into Hurley’s Island experience.

I wish I could say the same was true off camera. If you google Jorge Garcia, the second suggested search option is “Jorge Garcia weight.” If you click on it, you are directed to a website completely devoted to how much actors and actors weigh. I am not kidding.

Why is our culture so obsessed with what people weigh? Jorge Garcia is a wonderful actor and I am enjoying his role in Alcatraz as much as I did when he played Hurley in Lost. In fact, one of the aspects I am enjoying about Alcatraz is that Mr. Garcia’s weight has not been used as a plotline or referred to in any stigmatizing way. With three episodes under my belt, I am hoping that J.J. Abrams continues to maintain this weight neutral stance that pays tribute to the fact that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that who a person is is NOT about what a person weighs.

When I went to Mr. Garcia’s website, I found a photo of him as a child.

Jorge Garcia

I know it is blurry, but the minute I saw it, I couldn’t help but think about the Georgia Billboards with the fat kids on them over shaming captions. Jorge Garcia, was clearly a fat kid, and he is a fat adult. Yet, along the way he continued to pursue his passion for acting and was not deterred by fat shame or fat prejudice.  It leaves me wondering what his take on the Strong4Life campaign would be? I am tempted to write him a letter, asking for his support in opposing the billboard campaign that Atchka, Ragen Chastain, and Marilyn Wann are promoting so vigorously. But I have reservations.

I am wondering if doing that has me crossing into the territory that I am so happy the script of Alcatraz isn’t doing, which is labeling him as a fat actor rather than an actor. It’s a bit of a conundrum, and one that is bound to attract many opinions, pros and cons, which I am curious to hear.

But while I am making my decision, I am going to finish this blog post, catch up on my emails, start my newsletter, update my client folders, ship out a few books, and then, maybe, if I’m still awake enough, hunker down and watch some good television.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2012 9:53 am

    While I understand your hesitancy at contacting him, I also think that fat people have a vested interest in knowing about public “health” campaigns that would affect them, had they been born today, rather than 30 or 40 years ago. But I don’t think we should only target fat celebrities… anyone who expresses support for respecting body diversity should be contacted, which we will focus on this week.

    And that site that tracks stars’ weights? The entry on Gabourey Sidibe says, “We estimate her weight to be 105kgs or 231.5lbs.” Wow, that’s some precision estimating!

    Peace,
    Shannon

  2. February 13, 2012 11:20 am

    Really precision, and your point is EXCELLENT Shannon, thanks for the perspective!

  3. February 13, 2012 11:31 am

    And I just “renoticed” the scarred 4 life icon and it really is totally priceless!!! Shannon, was that your brilliance???

  4. Allison Dickson permalink
    February 13, 2012 12:08 pm

    I love Jorge! And I too am watching Alcatraz because of him. He is fantastic. I also think it wouldn’t hurt to contact him. We need all the help we can get in this area, really. Society is still against the idea of size diversity, particularly in the entertainment industry. He is a wonderful example of someone who can have a fruitful career despite social stigmas.

  5. Duckie Graham permalink
    February 13, 2012 12:38 pm

    Ragen, another bit of size-crap that was in lost was when the sarcastic con guy character (sorry the name is eluding me) would call him nicknames that were referencing Hugo’s weight…but though it was annoying, it wasn’t so bad because the con guy called everyone names and it really just showed what an ass he was being…so the name calling clearly reflected badly on the bully in that case.

    Also, there was Hugo’s food hoarding early on in the series. That kind of bothered me a bit more. I mean, what’s it saying about fat people, Hugo being the fat character…that we’re selfish, greedy, gluttonous…maybe planful for the long run? As I recall, he eventually shared, but only after pressure from others who found out about it.

    There were also some hints of size issues when Hugo had the romantic interlude…took a picnic to the beach and stuff…it was presented almost as if that was an unbelievable episode, like of all the guys on the island, how could this chick choose the fat one?!? I’m really glad it went that way and was a pure kind of love-crush in the end, but it certainly had a twinge of look-at-how-abnormal-this-is-ness.

    I agree that JJ Abrams is amazing and I had some fun with Lost, but I wanted to make sure our glasses weren’t too rosy here.

    • Duckie Graham permalink
      February 13, 2012 12:47 pm

      Sorry, just realized I addressed that comment to Ragen …sorry I forgot what blog I was reading – my bad and eternal apologies to Dr. Deah!

  6. February 13, 2012 12:55 pm

    It’s a compliment to be confused with Ragen! 😀 (At least from my end not sure how she would feel). I think you were talking about Sawyer, and yes he put everyone down for everything, so in that case there was equality in victims of his sarcasm. And you are right, I had forgotten about the food hoarding part, although, Sawyer was also hoarding and so was Jin..but Hugo was specifically food hoarding…that’s true. Glasses less rosy now…but holding out hope for Alcatraz! Thanks for writing!

  7. LittleBigGirl permalink
    February 13, 2012 1:09 pm

    I am loving how stars like Adele and Kelly Clarkson are coming out and saying they are happy with themselves the way they are, I can’t imagine how hard it is to not get neurotic under all that pressure and scrutiny. Kelly is my new hero because of this quote from People magazine: “Everyone’s like, ‘You’re a pop star, you should be smaller,’ ” says Clarkson, who’s dealt with expectations to be thinner since Idol. “But I’m the pop star. I’ll make the rules. I’m rockin’ this body right now. I love it.”(http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20559430,00.html) That last line just….*squeal* Awesome! 😀

    Apparently there was some hoopla (that I missed bc I don’t follow celebrity stuff that closely) about Kelly giving and interview in Self magazine and then they photoshopped her pic on the cover and ppl lost their damn minds. Oy. But she is keeping it so real and down to earth despite everyone else freaking out about her size. Total strangers freaking out about other people’s size – I just can’t get my head around the phenomenon (as pervasive and all-consuming a past time as it seems to be).

    I think S.A. isn’t just about fat people standing up for themselves (as important as that is), it’s about anyone and EVERYone, standing up and saying “Geez just chill the heck out guys. We come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no standard. People are different. Get over it.”

    HAES is different from SA/FA but they are connected. Acceptance means *everyone*. Even though the general public seems to struggle with the fact that fat is included in the “every” of “health at every size”, IMHO in the interest of solidarity we should try and get support from anywhere/anyone we can. I find it interesting that some people who are supportive of HAES or SA/FA online make it a point to identify themselves as *not* fat – like they’re an anomole or they feel they have to correct the assumption that fat people (or former fat people or people with fat friends/family) are the only ones interested in Health At Every Size, Self Acceptance or Fat Activism.

    You don’t have to be black to support the civil rights movement, you don’t have to be a woman to support feminism, you don’t have to be gay to support gay rights…I think the only criteria for supporting human rights is being human. 🙂

  8. February 13, 2012 1:32 pm

    Brilliantly put! Thank you for such a sane perspective!

  9. Bess Emanuel permalink
    February 15, 2012 5:02 pm

    Great post and Adele and Kelly are great role models for fat girls everywhere. Made me remember an acting class I took when I was ten. The final performance for parents was about the careers we wanted as adults. I was assigned the role of ‘cook’ with a bowl and wooden spoon as props – go figure! Re TV, I’m fixated on a reality show called “Dance Moms”. The director is a fierce woman called Abbey Lee who is a fat woman. Though the show is like watching a train wreck and the kids are treated like little dance machines, I can’t help loving the way Abbey Lee embodies the powerful presence of a fat and fabulous body. I want to see more people like her on TV. Totally unapologetic about her size and focused on being successful. Love her! also love this blog and the Scarred 4 life icon. Hilarious but oh so true!

  10. February 15, 2012 6:10 pm

    Thanks Bess. And I agree with the icon, it really nails it!

  11. February 15, 2012 7:35 pm

    What a kick! This blog post just got mentioned on the Jorge Garcia fan page with a link to this site. Who knows, maybe it will traffic to the site…and in Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, maybe it will bring Jorge to the site! (I can dream can’t I?)
    http://www.jorge-online.com/

  12. July 16, 2012 9:33 pm

    I ran across this post while poking around doing research for my own FA piece on Hurley, and now I feel like I should drop a mention of the fact that there’s this awful thing in his backstory where, as a kid, he walked out onto a deck, already overcrowded and way past its rated load, and it collapsed, and two people died. Hurley blamed himself for it and felt awful for the rest of his life. I’d call that pretty fat-hating.

  13. December 11, 2012 2:49 pm

    jorge garcia is an amzing actor especiaally in lost ur my role mode;

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