On Wednesday, Aussie actress and Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote her 2019 rom-com, Isn’t It Romantic. While discussing the importance of displaying body diversity in romantic comedies on the big screen, Wilson stated, “I’m proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy.” The declaration didn’t settle too well with some, and it set an important debate ablaze on social media.
The issue that many took with Wilson’s edict is that she’s not the first fuller-figured lead in a rom-com. Other Hollywood power forces, notably Queen Latifah, Monique, and Ricki Lake, starred in rom-coms of their own. In fact, Queen Latifah was nominated for a Teen Choice Award as choice movie actress for a romantic comedy for her role in 2010’s Valentine’s Day. Many pointed out not only the inaccuracy of Wilson’s comment but how it also exposed another pitfall of Hollywood: the tendency to erase the efforts and trailblazing impact of people of color.
Wilson tried to defend herself in a tweet, saying, “it was questionable as to whether: 1. Technically those actresses were plus size when filming those movies or 2. Technically those films are catorgorized/billed as a studio rom-com with a sole lead. So there’s a slight grey area.”
Even so, other popular films, such as Netflix’s recent release Sierra Burgess Is a Loser and 2007’s Hairspray, starred women with curves and discussed the importance of body positivity. Although fuller-figured women are underrepresented in Hollywood, especially in the rom-com scene, they aren’t completely nonexistent, and many Twitter users were quick to address that while others tried to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt.
Read some of the mixed reactions to Wilson’s proclamation, and her attempt to justify it, ahead.