Whether you know her as Sookie from Gilmore Girls, Susan Cooper from Spy, or Megan from Bridesmaids; Melissa McCarthy is a comic and social force to be reckoned with. From her subtle scene-stealing antics to insanely perfect delivery, McCarthy creates characters that go beyond caricature to real heart, and she is just awesome about life to boot.
#1: There’s funny…and then there’s FUNNY
I will never forget the first time I saw Bridemaids. Always a little iffy on Kristen Wiig, I was in the theater for Maya Rudolf, Chris Dowd, and the handful of talent that was smattered through the film. I really didn’t know much about McCarthy until her amazing dolphin story and man-eating tendencies came through on film and I was hooked. She has a punchy humor with a physicality that not many comics can pull off. She says everything in a look or with just two syllables. The drunk tape scene from The Heat was priceless (who hasn’t done it—seriously?), and the way she sparred with Peter Dinklage in the The Boss was everything. She plays women I want to be, but maybe in smaller doses. Okay, maybe not smaller doses.
#2: She’s like the natural juicy peach on the vine to Hollywood’s preservative-full, mass-produced unreal character mill.
MelMc (this is my BFF name for her and yes, we will be BFF’s) keeps it real. She takes the opportunity to create real characters that do not usually get attention on the silver screen. Her characters are big and loud at times, but have real vulnerabilities and backgrounds that manifest them. I have never seen MelMc play a flat character even if I don’t love every character she inhabits.
This part is going to get personal, so excuse me while I gush. As a curvy, plus-size woman, we don’t get much screen time in Hollywood, and we sure as hell rarely get identified as sexually attractive. We are often left sitting on the bleachers, pinning for the gorgeous man in our office, or are the butt of sexual encounters. Can I tell you a secret? In the real world, we have real, passionate, uninhibited sex (Shhhhhhhh…don’t tell anyone) that isn’t the result of a bet, binge, or blackout. One of my favorite things about McCarthy’s characters is she gives them sexuality; not as a quick joke or to validate self, but just because it is part of being a woman. It’s authentic and time the world gets the memo.
#3: She is the absolute right kind of body positivity model.
One of the unfortunate things about the world we live in is an obsession with how (specifically, but not exclusively) women look physically. So naturally a successful comic and actress with a not-size 2 body is constantly asked about her body, dieting, and physical appearance challenges. My question? Why does society assume that just because you don’t fit into the (ahem…completely ridiculous) standard of “beauty,” that you should give a (put your favorite explicative here)? Why is it everyone’s business? And the woman is gorgeous anyway, just look at her.
When asked about recent weight loss, the unflappable MelMc said this: “I have [lost weight], but I’ll be back again,” she said. “I’ll be up, I’ll be down, probably for the rest of my life. The thing is, if that is the most interesting thing about me, I need to go have a lavender farm in Minnesota and give this up.” BOOM. Drop the mic. She put it in perspective in a clear and non-defensive way; my weight is not the most interesting thing about me. Can’t we all take a page from that book?
#4: While she is a woman for all women, she didn’t forget about her curvy sisters
If you are a size 16 or higher, finding fashionable clothes to wear is somewhere between a Herculean labor and Sisyphean task. Over the last decade and a half it has become easier, but until I lose the requisite weight I will not be able to squeeze into Prada or Chanel (and even then I wonder if my Amazonian curves will be contained). While that is probably stopping me from selling my organs for dress money (thank you, Brownie Brittle), every woman wants to wake up in the morning and feel great about what she is wearing.
I was thrilled when McCarthy came out with a line of clothes at Lane Bryant that reflected some parts of her style in an affordable medium. While I didn’t love the whole line, there were pieces I definitely loved and purchased. But for me, it was the thought that counted. She did something about an underserved market she herself had been a part of.
I am super excited to see what MelMc does next. Astronaut? Politician? Or just that rumored Paul Feig film script that allegedly has a “crazy” plotline about Jon Hamm becoming obsessed with her after a hook-up and falling in love. Because asteroids hitting the earth, ghosts invading the streets, and a writer in New York who can afford a Manhattan apartment and $700 shoes whilst partying the night away is more realistic. If anyone can make it happen, I know it’s my girl Melissa.
Photo via Today