+Size Matters – Body Positive vs Offensive Narratives

This  year marks the first time that I’ve made a point to have a Netflix account. It started with me opening what must have been my eighth account under a different email address for another free trail and after I ended up getting charged for one month since I forgot to cancel it, I figured I might as well give this service a try for a year. Thus I too have taken to binge-watch sessions after work well into the early hours of the morning of many shows and movies.

For the most part I’ve taken to watching anime and catching up on shows that my friends were raving about years before, like Sherlock. Yes,  I’m “tardy to the party” but hey at least I’m here now, haha. Anyway, I say all this because Netflix originals were on the very bottom of my “To Watch” list and with shows like Insatiable being  produced by the service, I feel that I was right in not going that route with my new streaming binge-watching habit.

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Image Credit: Spoiler TV

Honestly, when the online petition reached 100,000 signatures back in July I believed that the show would never be an option to be streamed on Netflix but obviously this didn’t stop production. Sure this is old news by this point but it still warrants a bit more discussion as it demonstrates the significance of narratives that are presented to an audience – well, at least I think it does.

The basic plot of the show is as follows: a formerly overweight teenager turned beauty queen sets out to get revenge on everyone who tormented her when she was bigger. According to the creator, the show is meant to tackle major social issues attached to weight and fat-shaming through comedy and satire. She has even gone on the record to say that the backlash the show got at the release of its trailer was nothing more than a form of censorship. [Insert eye-roll here] Continue reading

Aggretsuko-inspired Summer Casual

 “Aggretsuko” or Aggressive Retsuko is an anthropomorphic red panda who is the namesake and protagonist of the the Netflix anime that premiered this past spring. She is a socially awkward, office worker in her mid-20s taking on the corporate world who is also a death metal enthusiast. As a Sanrio mascot she is as cute a character as the ever popular Hello Kitty, however, this “kawaii” appearance is a major contrast to her love of metal, and her affinity for using death metal karaoke to vent her frustration with her career and culture norms/expectations. The show wasn’t even officially announced by Netflix when I first started getting messages from friends on social media saying, “OMG! Its you!” They weren’t wrong, it really is.

“Underneath this smile I’m metal til I die!” 🤘🏽

And when I saw her redesign for the 33rd Annual Sanrio Character Ranking competition back in June, I fell in love with her outfit because it is totally something I would wear myself. It was simple and inevitably cute, yet it had a subtle feminine edge to it that suggested her metalhead past times. (And before you ask, even with her rise to popularity with her Netfilx show,  Retsuko only came in 20th place for the official ranking competition. I agree, she was robbed. But there’s always next year.) Continue reading

+Size Matters : Fat Monica & the Reformed Fat Friend Trope

When I started my blog back in January of 2015 I did so with half of a notebook full of  potential post titles, and blog topics I wanted to cover. These topics included race, fashion, life in NYC, beauty routines and dating, however, even with all those note-filled pages only only one item was underlined, and highlighted under a section I had entitled “+Size Matters” — Fat Monica. It was a blog topic that I had been pushing back discussing because it is a problematic aspect of a popular character from a beloved 90’s sitcom. However, once 2018 started I decided to start the year with another entry to the +Size Matters series. Why? Well we are just finishing off the third week of January which traditionally is when the pressures of diet culture reaches its zenith due to the  weight loss resolutions pushed at the start of the new year. So its basically the perfect time to look at  the very damaging  trope that Fat Monica embodies, that  of the “reformed fat friend” which perpetuates diet culture and the “value” that is attached to thinness especially when it comes to women’s bodies.

To be clear, I know that this particular “Friends” character has pretty much been analyzed to death and for good reason. “Friends” was and still remains to be a popular series, even with its problematic lack of a diverse cast though set in New York City, but it is definitely gaining some strong criticisms  at the moment since it is now streaming on Netflix. People are doing a double take at the sexism, homophobia, stereotyping and fat-phobia/fat shaming that is present in almost every episode. Continue reading

+Size Matters: Shrek Franchise

It’s been a while since I’ve done another media-literacy study of plus representation in media but after this unplanned hiatus I’m back with some new content for this ongoing series. So for this come-back I thought it was only fitting to finally deliver on a promised post – my review of “Shrek.”

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Image Credit : DreamWorks

Yes, the “Shrek” franchise received it fame for being  the most anti-fairy tale family film ever conceived though it does play with many of the tropes, many of which were created by Disney, in order to make fun of them. However,  the franchise is noteworthy for depicting a very real relationship in an animated feature with characters that are visibly plus. (Now as an adult I can’t help but wonder if this is meant to convey that only “average people” have relationship problems that need solving, but that is a discussion for another time and place.) Continue reading

Q & A With Journalist & “The Souls of Black Girls” Documentary Producer, Daphne Valerius

thesoulsofblackgirlsLast November I had the privilege of attending a screening of a documentary involving the representation of black women in media entitled “The Souls of Black girls.” Featuring Regina King, Jada Pinkett-Smith, the late Gwen Ifill,  and Rapper Chuck D to name a few this film presented hard truths that are often ignored even now, ten years after it was produced. The screening and the discussion that followed left me wanting more so I reached out to the creator and producer, Daphne Valerius for some insights as to her film and the planned sequel that is in the works. 

Host, Producer and Entrepreneur Daphne Valerius

Check out my talk with her below.

Disclaimer: Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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