Plus size women have long been neglected and outright mistreated by Hollywood. Yet, times are changing. Full-figured women are showing up everywhere in movies now and in more three-dimensional roles. While some of the movies on this list are clearly better than others, none of them were chosen for any sort of cinematic genius. They made the list because they handle the issues facing plus size women in a humane way. The characters are real people. They are so much more than just a fat girl punch line. So, grab some popcorn and make it a movie night.
1. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
America Ferrera stars as Ana, a Mexican-American teenager trying to find her way. The story explores family dynamics, ambition, body image issues, and more. Follow Ana as she enters womanhood, searches for identity, and struggles to mesh other people’s belief systems with her own.
2. Shag The Movie (1989)
This lighthearted film set in the Summer of 1963 follows a group of four friends who intend to have one last girls’ adventure before one member’s upcoming wedding. Caroline, nicknamed “Pudge,” is a chubby girl who loves to dance. While her friends run amuck all weekend, Pudge makes peace with herself, finds a guy, and shags ’til her heart is content.
3. Last Holiday (2006)
Queen Latifah stars as Georgia Byrd, a plus size woman who lives life on the sidelines until she discovers that she is terminally ill. Georgia promptly sets out to make at least some of her dreams come true before she dies. She takes the trip of a lifetime, eats with abandon, and gets herself a to-die-for makeover amongst other things.
4. Phat Girlz (2006)
Ah…what to say about this movie? Well, it’s certainly the worst of the bunch in my opinion. The cinematography isn’t great, the jokes are crude, and many of the attitudes expressed in it are contrary to all that I believe in. However, there are definitely some worthwhile aspects. Jazmin, the lead character, is a smart, talented business woman. Her struggles with weight and self-acceptance are very poignant. It shows different cultural beliefs about weight. And all the men are fit dispelling the myth that only fat guys are attracted to fat women. That’s enough good stuff to watch this one at least once on cable.
5. Camp (2003)
Teenagers attend a performing arts camp. While most of the ensemble of characters struggle with figuring out who they are, the stand out for me is Jenna. Jenna’s jaws are wired shut throughout most of the movie, a compromise made to avoid fat camp, but when she finally stands up to her overbearing parents…it’s all worthwhile.
6. Circle of Friends (1995)
This film chronicles the dynamics of a single peer group in 1950’s Ireland. Benny, our curvy heroine, experiences the ups and downs of love and betrayal. She shows strength and poise throughout where others fall incredibly short.
7. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
In this sequel, we see chubby overly analytical Bridget up to her usual antics in dating and living. Funny and heartwarming, this film is worth watching if for no other reason than one scene: Bridget attempts to get dressed under a sheet, fumbling around until her boyfriend tells her that he has “a very high regard for your wobbly bits.”
8. Hairspray (2008)
While the earlier version captivated me, the latest one stole my heart. It’s great to see women who are more than just a little chubby find self-acceptance and happiness. You have to love all the singing, dancing, and plus size pride abound. And you just can’t beat John Travolta in drag!