As I sat in the cinema awaiting the latest Hollywood romp, two women who have been on my mind lately appeared in the previews; Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson. McCarthy is currently starring in the Hangover Part III and The Heat. Wilson was recently seen in Pain and Gain, and will soon be launching a new sitcom Super Fun Night for the ABC. Both these women have seen their star rise in recent years and are now well known for the comedic prowess (think; Wilson hosting the 2013 MTV Awards and her much applauded role in Pitch Perfect, or McCarthy in Mike and Molly and both actresses in Bridesmaids). I have often thought about these two comedians with a good deal of frustration and concern for the ‘lot’ of the fat actress. It is neither a new or insightful reflection; women who do not conform to Hollywood ideals of beauty have limited starring potential and are often cast as the deluded or goofy sidekick.
In particular, it has seemed to me that both Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson have made a name for themselves playing irrational, socially challenged, and sometimes *lower*class characters than typical headline stars. For instance, Wilson wrote and starred in an Australian show called Bogan Pride– bogan being a quintessentially *Aussie* word for the lower class. Watching these women become popular has only reminded me that despite their growing stature, they will most likely remain locked out of the roles played by Anne Hathaway or Jennifer Lawrence. Many of us have probably thought, ‘why can’t women like this play the main love interest or the hero?’
However, on further reflection, it should be said that there is in fact something quite subversive about the fat actress. In the manner in which Hollywood has codified and normalised *woman*, the fat actress stands beyond the boundaries; boundaries clearly defined by the alleged superior aesthetic seen in the thin woman with anglicised features. As she who is therefore *not quite woman*, the fat actress may offer a counter performance. This is not to suggest that there is nothing problematic with space outside the boundaries – and that the typecasting of the fat is necessarily unoppressive – but it does raise questions about what woman is and why we (I) want all women to behave according to the Hollywood norm. In the same way that Foucault argues that the instantiation of norms is a consequence of the modern forms of power required to cope adequately with proliferating and fractured populations, the movie screen woman is a result of the Hollywood machine attempting to deal with proliferating and fractured notions of womanness, especially in relation to the supposed ethnic diversity of actresses in the global market. That is, in an era in which the idea of woman could be complexified by a multiplicity of contested images, Hollywood has battened down the hatches to exercise power over the true form of woman. More than ever, woman is tightly controlled and locked within the parameters of Hollywood norm productions (or, ‘sure you can be a Black actress, just as long as you are thin, get a nose job and straighten your hair’. Something Oprah has recently explored here ).
Because the Fat actress is not quite a women, her roles allow her to subvert the nature of women, and in particular, to be embodied in a way the Hollywood women would never allow. The fat actress can initiate sex in unexpected ways (which McCarthy and Wilson’s role nearly always point to) and fulfil sexual desires without being confined to the rigours of ‘acceptable reasons a woman might end up having gratifying sex’ rules that Hollywood narratives entail. The fat actress can inhabit the realms of ordinary bodily functions and reactions without the obvious shame potential such indecency would inflict upon Hollywood women (so, when McCarthy’s character in Bridesmaids has food poisoning and shits herself in the sink, she, and probably only she, can cry out ‘it’s coming out of me like lava’). And the fat actress can pass over the kind of disciplinary practices that shape the Hollywood woman’s body in its most literal sense. For instance, in Pitch Perfect, Rebel Wilson’s character (‘Fat Amy’) can ignore the demands for exercise and casually suggest she was lying down and doing horizontal running instead. Indeed, the fat actress seems to invert all the assumptions made about Hollywood women; the gal who is entirely normalised through the appearance of body. What we find in the Hollywood woman, is a woman hardly embodied at all. It is only in the fat actress that such embodiment is possible, and therefore only in the fact actress that a genuine ‘embodied woman’ emerges. The Hollywood woman is entirely caught up in the ‘double bind’ of subject production; or as John Caputo describes it, the modern exercise of power on Foucault’s account ‘produces individuals precisely in order to block of individuality’. 
The fat Actress certainly remains problematic, and in a most obvious way. She neither exercises an original subversion nor does she invent new tropes or gestures in her response to the ‘real’ women of Hollywood. But if Butler, for example, is right, then the performance of the fat actress is still important for its political and ideological subversion. What then, does it mean for me to desire the fat actress be normalised; to see Melissa McCarthy or Rebel Wilson playing the Jennifer Anniston role? Surely this is part my own identification with the production of Hollywood woman; a reflection of the inner tension I have with the production of gender norms. Perhaps even more so, it reflects my own rejection of embodiment, or at the least, my own confusion about what to *do* with this woman’s body.
 A phrase used in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rainbow, Michael Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983).
 John Caputo, “Madness, Hermeneutics and the Night of Truth,” in Michael Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience, ed. James Bernauer and Jeremy Carrette (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 128.