Melissa McCarthy: Powerful Women Fight Back Against Fat-Shaming

by Maggie May Ethridge
Originally Published: 

“Are you the one who wrote I was only a good actor when I looked more attractive and that my husband should never be allowed to direct me because he allowed me to look so homely?” she asked the critic. “Would you say that to any guy? When John C. Reilly—or any actor—is playing a character that is depressed and dejected, would you say, ‘Well, you look terrible!’?”

McCarthy asked the reviewer if he had a daughter. When he replied that he did, she responded, “Watch what you say to her. Do you tell her she’s only worthwhile or valid when she’s pretty?”

Women who rise to real influence and power in the U.S. are routinely confronted with criticism about their looks, criticism they can either swallow or openly address. Let’s take a look five awesome responses from powerful women whom critics tried to body shame:

Hillary Rodham Clinton

From the buttons a vendor sold at a Republican Party event that read “KFC Hillary Special: 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts … left wing” to the whining about her matronly hairstyles, Hillary has received more than her fair share of body-shaming. If we could get ahold of her as she runs to be the first female president of the United States, we could ask her how many fucks she gives.


Oprah pulled the rug from underneath her body shamers by taking the media and money to be made off her weight loss and body image struggles and making it what it is—her own. Let us imagine, if we could find Oprah underneath her piles and piles of green, what she might say to a snide comment about her weight losses and gains, in that mighty, iconic cry: Who giiiiiives a shiiiiit!!!

Lena Dunham

Oh, Lena. Thank you for being bold and brave. Is she a firefighter, a soldier, a peace warrior? No, but she is making a dent in the culture of this country where my two daughters have to grow up, a country where you are only allowed to be openly sexy or sexual if you have the acceptable body parts (hence Hillary’s hater buttons above). My favorite quote from Lena comes from the frenzied reaction to her showing up at an event in a shirt-dress: “If Olivia Wilde had gone to a party in … little shorts, she might have been on a ‘weird dressed list’ or been told her outfit was cute. I don’t think a girl with tiny thighs would have received such no-pants attention. I think what it really was … ‘Why did you all make us look at your thighs?’ My response is, get used to it because I am going to live to be 100, and I am going to show my thighs every day till I die.”

Amy Schumer

Amy’s first movie, Trainwreck, hasn’t even been released and she’s already being called “too chubby” to star as a sexually adventurous young person. Oh, you silly fat-shaming fools. Amy’s brilliant short “Last F**kable Day” shows us how uncowed she is, how little power she gives to this impotent criticism dished out by others.

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