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Finally, a plus-size character on TV whose story isn't about her weight.

'There has not been one line in this entire show for the entire season that addresses my weight.'

Plus-size representation on TV needs a lot of work.

It's rare to see characters who aren't thin in lead roles. But even when we do, those characters are often defined by their size, with stories revolving around weight loss struggles ("This Is Us") a continued barrage of fat jokes ("American Housewife"), or thin actors wearing fat suits in flashbacks ("Friends," "New Girl").

This is one reason why Paula Proctor is so damn awesome.


Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW.

If you missed the memo, Paula is the hilarious paralegal BFF to the series' star, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), on The CW's critically acclaimed musical romcom "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." Every week, the character, portrayed by Broadway alum Donna Lynne Champlin, challenges a status quo that says plus-size characters aren't deserving of the same complex, nuanced storylines their slimmer counterparts receive.

In an interview with Bust magazine in 2016, Champlin opened up about why playing Paula has been so refreshing.

On the show, viewers have watched Paula struggle to balance family commitments with law school, iron out relationship woes with friends, and get swept off her feet by a man that's (gasp!) not her husband. She's also one of few characters on TV to have had an abortion and not be punished or shamed for it. A storyline we haven't seen unfold, however, is one involving Paula's weight.

As Champlin explained to Bust:

"There has not been one line in this entire show for the entire season that addresses my weight. And we're always eating real food — donuts, burritos. We're always drinking. That's a huge thing for us that we're really eating. We're not sipping [cups] of shit that have nothing in them."

Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW.

"My type is middle-aged woman, not thin," Champlin said. "I look like the average American middle-aged woman. The only TV roles I've ever had were for the secretary, the cop, the nurse. The acceptable nonsexual place for a middle-aged woman to be on TV. They would be 1-2 lines and that was it, and never be a series regular. That was unheard of."

Thanks to actors like Champlin and roles like Paula, we've seen progress on plus-size representation on TV. But we have a long way to go.

Actors like Champlin or Melissa McCarthy — now a true, money-making Hollywood star — have certainly helped open doors for other women who aren't a size 2 or 4 or 6 or even an 8. The average American woman is a size 16.

Even when those doors are open to plus-size actors, however, we still "treat them like crap," Jezebel pointed out. Comedian Rebel Wilson's career has taken off in recent years, for instance — but her weight is often the butt of her jokes. Chrissy Metz worked her way into the hearts of millions starring in NBC's "This Is Us," but her character's opening scene was her staring quietly at a sweet treat in the refrigerator, fighting the temptation to take a bite.

That's why Paula's presence on "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is truly making a difference to viewers of all sizes.

Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW.

When Paula donned a fitted, red dress in one musical number, the power of representation spoke loud and clear.

"The internet exploded with plus-size women saying, 'Where the fuck did you get that dress? It’s amazing,'" Champlin told Bust.

GIF via "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."

"What I loved about it, is it was tight. There was no apologizing me and hiding me. The boobs were up, and the dress was tight, and that thing sold out online in a matter of minutes."

If TV writers are smart, they'll not only include more plus-size characters in their shows, but they'll also swap those tired fat-shaming, weight-centric storylines for more powerful, fearless, red dress scenes like Paula's.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Here, have a round of joy. It's on us.

Alexas_Fotos/Canva

Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights.

When headlines and social media seem to be dominated by the negative, we all need reminders that the world is full of wonderfulness. Joy connects and inspires us and can be found everywhere—if we keep our eyes open and look for it. One of our goals at Upworthy is to make that search a little easier by telling stories that highlight the best of humanity and sharing the delights, large and small, that unite us.

Each week, we collect 10 things that made us smile and offer them to you to enjoy and share with others. We hope this week's list tickles your heart and brings a smile (or 10) to your face as well.

1. Tico the parrot is a master vocalist. Not even an exaggeration.

@ticoandtheman

On a dark desert hwy, cool wind in my hair…

We've shared some delightful parrots in these roundups before, and each one somehow seems to out-entertain the last. I did not see Tico's vocal skills coming, though. The intonation! The vibrato! Even my music major daughter was blown away by this singing bird.

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A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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