Everything wrong with... Shallow Hal (film) or "romantic movies and the representation of plus-size characters"
|Pic from Filmaffinity|
Last week I watched "Shallow Hal", "Amor ciego" in Spain. I must confess that I fell asleep before it finished but I think I got the message. And even better, I got to discuss it with my friend Bibi, who is also very into body image and how the media deals with it and its consequences to society.
For those of you who don't know about this movie, it was released in 2001, aka the golden years for skinny bodies. (Low rise jeans, Monica and Rachel from "Friends", Britney Spears and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show).
Hal Larsen is a superficial boy who only likes to date supermodel-looking girls. However, after undergoing a hypnosis session by a well-known guru, he will only be able to see (literally) the inner beauty of women. Rosemary, an obese and kind girl, will cross her path and Hal will fall madly in love with her. (FILMAFFINITY)
To say it in a few words, he falls in love with a fat woman only because in his mind she is skinny.
And now is when we start to see some problems with this movie.
It is supposed to tell us that inner beauty is what really matters. Which, in the early 2000s, with all the background we had going on with those super skinny super models, is quite daring to make. (I guess?) Anyway, you wouldn't see this kind of movies at that time.
BUT, keep reading because it only gets worse
1. As I said, in the movie they are actually telling us that he ONLY falls in love with her because he thinks she is skinny.
2. He sees her as a pretty girl because he was hypnotised, otherwise, no man would like to date a fat woman.
3. Everyone keeps asking him why is he dating her, since she is so fat. Like, they keep repeating during the whole movie, "why would like to date a fat girl?".
4. All the time in the movie they keep emphasising the cliché that fat girls eat all the time unhealthy food and that they are so fat that they break all the chairs they use.
So, maybe at that time it was a criticism to the superficial culture that was taking over the new millennium but I don't think it empowered anyone to feel better about their body.