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Body Positive Narrative on ABC Family

When I was finishing my master’s thesis, there were a lot of late nights with the Disney Channel on for background noise. While I’m ashamed at how many episodes of Hannah Montana are now permanently lodged in my brain, I had a little bit of secret love for That’s So Raven (in part because Raven Symone’s personality has always reminded me of our very own Sarah’s).

Symone has a new show on ABC Family, State of Georgia, and since my love of cheesy shows doesn’t just stop with the Disney Channel, I watched it.

In the show, Symone plays Georgia, an aspiring actress in New York City. Six minutes into the pilot, as Georgia auditions for the role of Lola in Damn Yankees, this scene happens:

Casting director: You’ll never be a star. Listen, honey, no one will buy you as a seductress because in Damn Yankees, when they talk about the “big seduction” scene, they don’t mean the size of the actress.

Georgia: What do girls say when you say stuff like that to them? Do they get scared? Do they cry? Not me, sir. And you ought to be ashamed of yourself, speaking to a lady like that. And it’s not “honey,” it’s Georgia. With a “G.” Georgia. And, trust me, you won’t forget it.

(Dialogue begins at 5:20)

About this, I have feelings.

It’s frustrating that the plus-size issue is addressed right out of the gate. How much nicer would it have been for Georgia to not be defined by size, but rather have it a point so unnecessary for discussion that it isn’t discussed? For example, one of the (MANY) reasons I love Gilmore Girls is that the character Sukie’s weight is never brought up. There was no special episode where she struggles with her body image and comes to love herself ““ she already does and, as such, it’s a non-issue.

On the other hand, well done. Well done for writing a dimensional character who uses that moment to stand up for herself with conviction. I hope this representation of self-love and pride will continue to be a theme throughout the show. Granted, there’s a later scene involving some very disturbing “food seduction,” but I can forgive them that.

P.S. The shows music is by Liz Phair! The 13 year-old angsty grunge wannabe within me feels all warm and fuzzy (while still being jaded and misunderstood, of course).

Editor’s note: This post originally ran on Interrobangs Anonymous, who are lovely, kind, and beautiful souls who share their content with us.

3 replies on “Body Positive Narrative on ABC Family”

I haven’t seen this, but have heard mixed reviews that put me off. However, the body positivity is a good thing (although I understand she loses a bit of weight after the pilot; when I saw promo pics I didn’t understand she was supposed to be “plus” sized).

It’s worth mentioning that it was created by Jennifer Weiner, whose Good In Bed was a revelation and a turning point in terms of fat positive narratives in popular fiction.

I think ABC Family is a generally pretty progressive, good network. I didn’t watch Huge, but I heard good things, and one thing I’ve liked a lot about Greek is how open and non-slut-shamey they are about everyone’s sexuality. The female characters have casual sex! Sometimes for bad reasons! And it’s just a thing they do, not an opportunity for a moral about slutty whores. So generally speaking, I appreciate the network’s approach.

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