Melissa McCarthy Is Obese -- So What?

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 04:  Actress Melissa McCarthy arrives at the premiere of Universal Pictures' 'Identity Thief' at t
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 04: Actress Melissa McCarthy arrives at the premiere of Universal Pictures' 'Identity Thief' at the Village Theatre on February 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In his recent movie review for the newly released Identity Theft , Rex Reed refers to Melissa McCarthy as tractor-sized, humongous, obese and a female hippo. Rex Reed hated the film, tearing apart the screenplay, the direction and even the very premise. He has every right to his opinion on the film as a whole; however, he goes too far when he attacks the weight of one of its stars.

According to the average hippo is 15 feet in length and weighs about 3.5 tons, or 7,000 pounds. Hippos are also incredibly aggressive towards humans making them one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa. I don't know Melissa McCarthy's weight but I would take a wild guess that it is nowhere near 7,000 pounds. I also doubt that she would be considered dangerous or aggressive. The average weight of a farm tractor is 18,661 pounds, or roughly 2.5 hippos, so she is not quite as heavy as a tractor either. His use of the term, humongous is subjective I guess, but it is especially harsh since the origin of the word comes from combining huge with monstrous.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines obesity on a person having a Body Mass Index or (BMI) of 30 or higher. The CDC lists the average weight of an American woman at 166 lb. with a waist circumference of 37.5 inches. I don't know McCarthy's specifics, but based on photos I would have to make a guess that she would probably be classified as obese. The CDC estimates that approx. 35.9% of adult Americans would be considered obese. Since such a significant portion of the population has a BMI of 30 or higher, is it really so extraordinary that an actress of that size appear as a lead character in a film? Wouldn't one-third of the country want to occasionally see someone who represents what they look like on the silver screen?

What does her size matter in this or any film? It is not like she is portraying a personal trainer, runway model or starving refugee. In this movie, her weight is about as relevant as her eye and hair color. If the role specifically needed a slim woman that he might have a point, but in this case her weight might have actually helped her get the part. She is portraying a common thief in Florida, shouldn't she reflect the weight of a more common American? Not every story or character calls for the usual 22-year-old Hollywood waif.

I suspect that McCarthy's gender may have played a role in being ridiculed for being overweight. Eric Stonestreet best known for his performance of Cameron Tucker in the acclaimed hit television show, Modern Family, is hardly svelte. Stonestreet is heavily featured in the film's trailer yet Mr. Reed didn't see the need to call him a beached whale. He didn't even mention him in his review.

Could we just move on from talking the size of any actor or actress? Most actresses in American films are alarming slender. When someone as slim and in shape as the awarding winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence complains about being considered a fat actress by Hollywood standards, clearly the criterion in Hollywood is completely out of whack. Shouldn't it be about talent or finding the best actress for any specific role?

Haven't we had enough already? Isn't the success of the film Bridesmaids proof enough that an obese actress can not only be extremely entertaining but help make a movie into a blockbuster? According to the world-wide gross for Bridesmaids was over $288 million dollars. Somehow I don't think it would have been as successful without the hysterical McCarthy, no matter what her BMI.