Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beautiful, Hilarious Aidy Bryant

[Content note: some discussion of fat shaming stereotypes and weight loss]

Something kinda awesome is quietly happening on SNL right now. Since Fall of 2012, Aidy Bryant has been a cast member. If you don't watch the show, here she is:

[Image text: Bryant standing at a formal event in a black and blue cocktail dress.]
Her addition to the line up immediately caught my attention. I was overjoyed for a lady cast member who is bigger than a size 10. I mean...I can easily think of many fat dudes in the show's history (John Belushi, Horatio Sans, Chris Farley, and currently Keenan Thomas.)

But big ladies? I can't think of any...have there been others besides Bryant?

So I was rooting for her, and she didn't disappoint. Many of her skits have been the highlight of my viewing experience lately. But there's another pitfall of ladies on SNL, which I will call the Melissa McCarthy effect--where they are too often written into skits as kinda disgusting weirdos frequently obsessed with food. (That's not to say I don't love McCarthy's times hosting the show because she's hilarious, but the content does make me kinda sad.)

But this isn't happening with Bryant, and that's the quiet amazing thing that I'm watching. To my observation, Bryant is being used in a body neutral way. Sometimes she plays someone absurd, but other times she plays someone who is sexy, just like any of the other ladies. (I wish this didn't feel revolutionary to me, but it does.) And because she's hilarious and kills it nearly every time, she keeps getting more and more prominent roles.

I first got an inkling of this last year during the music video skit "(Do It On My) Twin Bed." In it the female cast mates are talking about bringing home their boyfriends to their parents house for the holidays and the weirdness of having sex in their childhood bedrooms. Bryant is there with the more conventionally attractive cast mates and it's no big deal.'s actually not, ya know? Us fat ladies actually DO have healthy sex lives too.

This theme continued during this season's opener, which featured Bryant in a skit about a sexual medication called "Cialis Turnt." Again, the joke here isn't Bryant herself, but rather the ridiculousness of the content. I'm sure other fat ladies like myself know exactly why I find this so interesting. For us to not be caricatured as the hypersexual, but intended-to-be-seen-as-repulsive figure is rare.

The best thing about Bryant's role in the season opener, is that she was cast in a skit about flirting opposite Chris Pratt, who is widely considered as a Hottie McHotterson lately (due to his extreme weight loss...if you ask me he was just as attractive before, but that's a blog post for another day.) And again, it's no small thing that the joke of the skit is not that SHE is flirting with HIM, but HOW they are both flirting. And if anything, her "big fat ass" isn't a point of shame, but pride: thanks, Nicki Minaj! (And it's worth nothing that Bryant has also appeared in another skit last year which at least partially embraces the term "fat" as a self-descriptor. On national television. Who else does that?)

I just love it. I mean, I'm not saying I love the content of all of these skits...but I do love her place in them.

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