Being Fat

Ok. So, having talked to a couple of people who reckon it’s a bit unusual I thought I’d open this out to the web.

I am playing a fat character in one of the role-playing games I’m in. She would describe herself as plump, but to be honest she knows she’s lying to herself. (She’s a bit like Melissa McCarthy would be if she plumped up two dress sizes). So I wanted to play a character who was body-wise wussy, my usual tactic would be to make myself skinny and pale and bookish but my thought process went, I’m playing an American… hmm… lets make her a fully paid up member of the ‘super-size’ culture. She’s still bookish and pale… just big.

Is it actually that unusual to play a big character? It’s been opined that fat is more socially unacceptable than pale and skinny, does this hold true?

5 thoughts on “Being Fat

  1. Well, my angle on it was that I was surprised I’d played characters who were both male and female and who – in terms of body shape – resembled anything from me, to a notch below female body builder, and downright anorexic. Yet, I’ve never played anyone who could be described as obese.

    My mind carried on this little pondering after I dropped you off, and for me, the answer developed into something fairly straight-forward. The characters I play tend to have backstories or lifestyles that simply wouldn’t *allow* them to be overweight. They’re either so crippled by magic and consumed in their studies to actually feed themselves that they descend into weird, almost sub-human frailty. Or, at the other end of the scale, you have a traditional ranger in the wilds, hunting and leaping from trees. Even the middle ground consists of people who, for job reasons (an FBI field agent, for example), demands a certain level of fitness without excess.

    The character you’re playing is within the Silent Hill-verse, and as such has no direct demands placed on them for health and wellbeing and may never have even been in a situation in her life where she’s had to jog for a bus, let alone run screaming from faceless monstrosities.

    For me, the body shape thing is pure practicality. A plus-size WFRP assassin just doesn’t make sense – it wouldn’t be practical to play and would probably turn into more of a running joke than a character I could take seriously.

    The next game I’m in where I could play a "citizen" whose background or present situation wouldn’t require a certain level of health, or dictate a certain type of *un*healthiness, I think I’ll try the larger model just for the sake of variety!

  2. One of the things I keep coming back to is the idea of playing a super-sized techie (Think of the tech guy from Jurrasic Park) but I’ve never quite gotten the right opportunity to play it. I like the idea of playing characters with obvious flaws because it gives you a handle on how they react and what they would do. Let us know how it works out Mish, that sounds really interesting.

  3. One of the default assumptions seems to be that a character will in some way reflect an idealised form, which would account for a lot of the surprise. Considering how many characters I’ve seen and played in LURPS who have one handicap or another, or one other issue or another with their physique, it’s not particularly remarkable – but it’s unusual, if that’ makes sense?

  4. I can only recall one character of mine who was supposed to be fat – mostly because I swiped the concept from Nick of a morbidly obese man with control over gravity, which is the only reason he’s physically capable of moving. I’ve played a guy who was described as ‘tubby’ – he was also a chain-smoker and the universe’s worst-dressed man – but his weight wasn’t *that* high.

    *Shrug*. Part of it, in my case, is that it’s hard to call someone fat without sounding insulting, even if that person is fictional.

  5. I’ve never played a fatty, I don’t think…

    Most of my characters tend towards the average – the notable exceptions being Michael Palmer (modelled on Michael Chiklis) and Alex Griffin (who was meant to be a buff superman, later modelled on Gerard Butler).

    I think my metagamey practice of making sure that characters are at least roughly average in physical stats (so they don’t die too soon), regardless of their actual specialism, is a part of it.

    I guess my (one and only) female character, Elizabeth Murray, was unusually slender, but that was because she was based on Mina Murray as presented in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels.

    Medieval fantasy games (including WFRP) tend not to allow obese characters unless they’re extremely wealthy, and even then, the lifestyle of the adventurer – which is commonly the theme of games – doesn’t allow unfit people to survive.

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