Yeah. That one. As it turns out, the three of us had seen the original together when celebrating my birthday three years ago, and we felt like it would be a fun way to celebrate this one. So we went, expecting the raunchy, guilty pleasure, who-cares-if-there's-a-plot movie that we watched the first time around. And it was all that...and it wasn't.
Actually, it was, if you can believe it...a lot better than the first one. For one thing, as one of my friends pointed out, the movie really focused on the friendship between the male characters. In the first one, it was all about Mike getting the girl. In this one, it was about him reconnecting with his friends and exploring his talent (and boy, does he have talent...and it's not acting talent). But what I wanted to talk about here is the way that the movie portrays women, particularly women of size (or fat women, or plus-size women, if you prefer). Shockingly, amazingly, it treats us like actual humans. And not just like humans, but sexual creatures.
I truly couldn't believe my eyes. For those of you who may not be aware, there seems to be some kind of mental block that occurs when people write parts for larger women on the screen. As Margaret Cho has said, we are usually reduced to the "best friend with a heart of gold but still a wildebeest character". The chubby girl isn't the one who gets the guy, and isn't the star of the show. Or she ends up being super gross and hilarious, like Melissa McCarthy's character in Bridesmaids, or the funny one who recognizes that her fatness may be an issue for people and confronts them up front (but follows stereotypes like not exercising), like Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect. And then there's the fact that some people can't wrap their heads around fat women having sex, or being sexual beings. Seriously, if another Huffington Post article about "fat sex" pops up on my newsfeed, someone is going to die.
Anyway, I say all of that to explain my thought process when I saw the first plus-size woman on the screen. Here we go, I thought. They're going to make fun of her. Or act like they like her and then laugh about it when she's not around. I was ready for it. That's what I'm used to. And then...it didn't happen. She was just another woman. The movie went on, and in scene after seen, I kept seeing them. Women of all shapes and sizes. Beautiful, sexy. And since this is a movie about
Walking out of the theater, we couldn't stop talking about how great the movie was. How encouraging and empowering to see women being treated like queens, like the special people they are. How wonderful to see women that truly represent the general population on the screen, and, moreover, how surprising that all of this came from a movie about stripping. I can only hope we'll be seeing more of that in the future. Until then, treat yourself to a fun girls night featuring Magic Mike XXL.