Things I Hate About TV: Sara Rue gets skinny
by Joel Keller, posted May 3rd 2006 5:24PM
I was watching Less Than Perfect last night (yes, it's back on ABC... yes, I thought it was cancelled, too), and the first thing I noticed was that Sara Rue had lost weight. A LOT of weight. Not that this is the first time I've seen the skinny Sara (I think I saw her skinny self on an episode of Ellen or something), but I had forgotten just how much she had slimmed down since her sitcom started four years ago.
But here's the thing: I don't understand why she had to lose the weight to begin with.
I've always thought Sara was cute; curvy and vivacious, it seemed like she was very comfortable in her own skin and loved the fact that she wasn't the usual Hollywood bean pole. In the classic sense of the word, she wasn't even overweight; stories about her around the time of Perfect's premiere said she was anywhere from a size 8 to a size 14. Considering the average dress size of American women these days, it seemed like Sara was either average- or well-below-average-sized. Nothing wrong with that.
But because she wasn't between size 0 and size 2, almost every article that came out about Sara used the words "plus-sized" or "full-figured", which is Hollywood code for "fat". I remember at the time that I'd get pissed off when I read those descriptions; I mean, there was nothing I could see of Sara that suggested she was overweight, yet many jaded entertainment journalists were able to get away with calling poor Sara a fattie right there in print.
Even Sara was sick of the name-calling, as she told both TVGuide.com and USA Today. "It's confusing to me. In real life, I'm normal. In fact, I'm less than normal. I'm smaller than a 12. I don't want to say what I am, but I've been called everything from an 8 to a 14. People just decide. People will label you something whether you say it's OK or not. The bottom line is I'm healthy, and this is the way I want to be," she said in that USA Today article (which, by the way, described her as "slightly overweight"). In the TVGuide.com article, she went on to clarify that she was a size 8. Size 8! Millions of women would kill to be a size 8, and many guys would be perfectly happy if their women were size 8.
I felt bad that Sara had to defend her weight in the press, but I was happy to see her fight back and tell people that she was a normal, healthy woman and that Hollywood's obsession with stick-figures was ridiculous; I was sure that Sara was going to stay normal through the run of the series.
But I guess Hollywood got to her. About a year ago, she dropped a bunch of weight, and of course, the entertainment press couldn't help but gush over Sara's "new bod". But here's the problem: Sara went from a woman that viewers could identify with to just another too-skinny Hollywood actress. She had a nice niche; her presence on network TV told women that you could still be sexy and confident while being normal, that you can still be hot even if you enjoy the occasional cheeseburger. Now she's just like the rest of the Hollywood clones.
And I'm sure it's all the "full-figured" talk that finally compelled her to lose the weight. It's the same mentality that creates sitcoms that give chubby guys like me the false hope that we're going to marry hot, skinny wives. It's not real life, it's "network real life", and it's starting to make me ill. If it can get to someone as seemingly strong as Sara Rue, then I wonder what it does to people with less hearty constitutions.
No wonder why everyone's switching to cable...