Unlikely Allies

Let’s talk about three things:

  1. Hollywood is notorious for lack of body diversity, because somewhere along the way, the men in charge decided that pretty much one female body type (thin) is good/worth looking at/worth being.
  2. Finding body-positivity allies is the best.
  3. There aren’t a lot of body-positive allies to be found in Hollywood, because see #1.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I went to see Magic Mike XXL this weekend, and I found allies. Body-positive allies. About women’s bodies specifically. I know, I’m as shocked as you are!

Geared up to fight for body diversity!
Geared up to fight for body diversity!

Now, there’s not much body diversity in the men in the movie, except maybe in terms of height, hair style, and number of prominent abs. But that’s okay, because while it pretends to be a shallow, (extremely attractive) buddy road-trip romp, this movie is all about feminism and the female gaze (read more about that here). So male readers (if you’re out there), please excuse us while we have a moment that’s for the ladies (or, as Rome would call us, queens).

In the first Magic Mike, there was one awful scene were Joe Manganiello picked up a fat woman, and acted like he’d thrown out his back when he put her down. Har har, right? So when the first fat woman popped up in the sequel, I braced myself for the worst. And then… nothing bad happened. The scene carried on. The fat women in this movie – and there are several – are just there. They aren’t singled out or made fun of because they are fat. The crowd scenes show women of such color and size diversity, I have to assume the people who made this movie slipped these scenes under the radar of the Hollywood body-police. And I’m so glad they did. I would love to hear from the producers of this movie, to know if they were aware of the importance of what they were doing.

One of the only crowd scene shots I could find.
One of the only crowd scene shots I could find.

I never imagined for a moment that I would find allies in a movie about male strippers entertainers. I never imagined that the part that would have me swooning the hardest would be when Matt Bomer sang passionately to a fat member of the audience, and it wasn’t played for laughs, or pity, or anything other than what it was: the most handsome man in the world, singing to a woman who deserves his attention, who will thank him by stuffing dollar bills down his pants. Ha!

Matt Bomer, and a little bit of thigh diversity.
Matt Bomer, and a little bit of thigh diversity.

I left that movie feeling exhilarated, not because of the scenes of super attractive men taking off their clothes (truth: those parts didn’t hurt), but because women who looked like me were present, and accounted for, and just… part of the world. Allies! You never know where you’re going to find them.