Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"The Shrinking States of Toni"

We are coming upon the season finale of the new Showtime series, “The United States of Tara.” For those of you aren’t familiar with the show, it follows the trials of a woman with multiple personalities, and how it affects her family. Toni Collette is the main character and does one fantastic job. But let me take you back 15 years to when we were introduced to Toni in a movie called “Muriel’s Wedding.” It definitely had your share of “cheese,” but she played a beautiful, curvy woman with insecurities, trying to find friendship and love. I was drawn to her realness and beauty from here.

Fast forward to “The Sixth Sense.” She was Haley Joel Osment’s mom in that one —yeah, even my mom didn’t believe me on that fact — and I felt she was downplayed for the entire show. Fine, that’s a stepping-stone role to the mainstream, so I guess I understood. Then, push the button a little farther to her next memorable turn, “In Her Shoes,” with Cameron Diaz. In this film, she plays a successful, curvy (or, shall we say, “real-sized”) woman, and we observe her relations with her skinny, flighty, undependable sister. One step forward for curvy girls! But in the back of my head, the whole time, I was thinking to myself, “Well, they keep calling her fat, but she’s really not that big…” and, it’s the Diaz character who’s allowed to grow and develop.

Now, with “The United States of Tara,” I have noticed an extreme shift in Toni’s weight. She has definitely become an "actor” with this show, but why does it seem that this notoriety comes with the shedding of pounds? The weight of any talented actress always seems to drop when she starts to become “noticed.” Kate Winslet, anyone?!?!?!

It seems as if a curvy actress needs to start off being plus-sized, and portray herself in such a way — take the back seat and the brunt of a bunch of jokes — but before she is regarded as a “talented actor,” she must shed a bunch of pounds and fit the mold of the typical Hollywood waif.

I guess it makes me feel that success in the entertainment industry is all that more unattainable. So, what? I not only have to hone my acting chops to a razor’s edge, but I must attain an underweight body type, as well?

I’m not bitter. I’m just confused.

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