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Impeachment: American Crime Story is further proof that fatness remains a costume in Hollywood

  • "Even as the conversations around body acceptance and positivity have advanced – and representation of people of all body sizes has increased through the years with shows like Shrill, This Is Us, and others – fat suits are the one thing Hollywood refuses to shake," says Kylie Cheung of Sarah Paulson's use of a fat suit to play Linda Tripp. "Impeachment is clearly conscious of rampant American fatphobia and pressures to be thin, especially in the 1990s. The series makes a point to show Lewinsky and Tripp frequently bonding over their experimentation with varying weight loss regimens and trends. The show opens with Monica exercising furiously at the gym, just before being apprehended at the mall. The casting of Beanie Feldstein, a heavier, notably not rail-thin actress who's vocally criticized the ways society conflates 'thinness with goodness,' as Monica Lewinsky shows that Impeachment cast Paulson despite clearly knowing better. Just as Feldstein delivers a brilliant, unrepentantly human portrayal of one of the most maligned women in modern American history, a fat or plus-size actor could have made for a brilliant Linda Tripp, too. The representational disappointments of Impeachment are especially frustrating, considering how much the show gets right. Through its nuanced storytelling of gendered power dynamics and political intrigue, Linda Tripp emerges as a three-dimensional person beyond the vile, treacherous, even sexually perverted caricature of her that we've long been fed. She remains a power-thirsty gossip who plays a not-insignificant role in ruining a young Monica Lewinsky's life. But she's also been betrayed and slighted herself, all while struggling with loneliness, boredom, professional disappointment, and the challenges of being a single mom to teenage children. Sarah Paulson is a brilliant actor — yet, if it was so important for Impeachment to portray Linda Tripp with this body type, it's clear Paulson wasn't the right fit. As the twisty, melodramatic thrills of Impeachment continue, a fat suit-clad Paulson hangs like a dark cloud over its otherwise commendable feminist overtures."

    TOPICS: Impeachment: American Crime Story, FX, Sarah Paulson, Body Portrayals and TV