On Sunday night, I found myself loosely following Oscar results, not out of any major interest in which films/people won but because I was a bit bored. When Tilda Swinton won for her work on Michael Clayton, I stumbled across an interview with Tilda Swinton, which I was going to link to, but the content “mysteriously changed” between Sunday and now. I’ve really got to start taking screen captures.
The main thrust of the interview was discussing the fact that she gained weight for the Michael Clayton role, complete with a witty headline like “Swinton eats her way to glory” or some such crap. She of course expressed delight with being able to eat whatever she wanted (have you heard of intuitive eating, Tilda? It’s pretty awesome, mainly because you can…eat whatever you want), and she went into some of her reasons for gaining weight for the role.
I was most struck by a statement that she wanted the character to “look uncomfortable in her own skin.” Because, you know, obviously fat people are uncomfortable in their own skin. Because being fat is so awful and miserable, how could you not feel uncomfortable in your own skin? And she went on to say “I wanted her to have this sort of itchy feeling about her body so her clothes were always either too tight or her underwear was too tight but her clothes actually don’t fit.” Because we fatties are known for wearing clothing that doesn’t fit.
Maybe it’s hard to explain why her statements irritated me if you aren’t fat. But can you see how they might be kind of…off putting, at the very least? Perhaps she didn’t mean it to come across this way, but I was left with a very distinctive impression: fat people are uncomfortable in their own skin, and they wear ill-fitting clothing. Maybe Swinton didn’t say it, but the implication seemed to be that fat people don’t care about themselves, let themselves go…and perhaps even expect to be loathed by society.
The article emphasized scenes where the character exercises, “striving for something she can’t have,” because of course the sight of a fat person exercising is pathetic and laughable. Which explains why when I’m out on my bike, other cyclists avert their gazes and laugh when I pass by. Oh, wait, they don’t, they nod and smile, recognizing a fellow human being. And fat people never get anywhere when they exercise, no matter what they might think. Nope, I can exercise every day and I’ll still be fat and unhealthy and gross, because of course being fat is, you know, totally awful. As for the morbidly obese, instead of the just fat, why, they shouldn’t even bother leaving the house, let alone exercising.
Every time an actress gains weight for a role, I feel obligated to go look at the before and after pictures, since the media makes such a big fuss of it. Take Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones, looking in my opinion perfectly normal, although a bit puffy around the edges, like someone who gained weight too rapidly and in a dangerous way. After that film? Frighteningly thin. The publicity photos I could track down of Swinton in the film didn’t appear fat; in fact, she looked a bit thin to me.
Swinton may be “ferociously intellectual,” as one review said, but it sounds to me like she’s just as bigoted as the rest of the Hollywood community. Bummer.