I don’t watch Glee. I’ve listened to the music and quite like it. From what I’ve seen during the adverts they vastly under-use some of the voices at their disposal but that’s mostly subjective I feel.
Required background knowledge: Glee club is a non-religious choir-type group singing, with melodies and harmonies etc. One of the cast members (the only PoC in the group I believe, but I may be wrong) is a fat black girl. She is a confident, bubbly young woman with a fantastic strong voice. Seriously, it pours out of her like vomit. Awesome, musical vomit, but I’m sure you get the picture.
The thing I want to discuss is an advert I saw recently. The group was at some sporting event as cheerleaders (it was indoors – basketball? Unimportant, anyway) and the aforementioned girl was singing Beautiful by Christina Aguilera. For those who don’t know, the song is about inner beauty, I guess, and feeling beautiful despite other’s opinions. For example, the chorus:
I am beautiful no matter what they say
Words can’t bring me down
I am beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring me down, oh no
So don’t you bring me down today
Now, yes this song sends a powerful message of self-worth and confidence and self-acceptance. And from what I’ve seen of the adverts, she is a confident lady who is comfortable with herself. But I can’t help but feel cynical about why she was chosen to sing this song.
Is it another: fat women – especially fat women of colour can’t possibly be found to be beautiful by ‘conventional’ means. She must feel beautiful despite what others say because no one would ever findher beautiful.
I must admit I always find myself worrying if I’m reading too much into things when I find fat hating, racist, misogynistic messages in entertainment, but this message seems so obvious without being overtly hateful at the same time.
It’s times like this that remind me how we’re swimming in this kind of imagery. And its disturbing to say the least.