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Melissa McCarthy Doesn't Want to Be Hollywood's 'Stepford Wife'

In a recent interview with "InStyle," Melissa McCarthy confronted the criticism she receives for playing roles that don't fit within Hollywood's narrow definition of women.

by Danielle Kwateng-Clark
Jan 9 2019, 6:07pm

Photo by Alberto Rodriguez/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Melissa McCarthy is opening up about an interview that she never forgot. In the February issue of InStyle, the comedian talked about receiving negative reviews and opened up about an experience that encapsulated the discrimination she faces as an actress who's not conventionally petite.

"He kept asking, 'Are you shocked that you actually work in this business at your tremendous size?'," McCarthy recalled to InStyle, referring to an interview she had done in 2011 pegged to her film Bridesmaids. "It happens all the time, to the point where it’s fascinating because they don’t do it to men. Not to be a jerk or single him out, but when John Goodman was heavier, did anybody ever talk about his girth?"

Still, it seems that McCarthy has been able to avoid being pigeon holed. In the years since Bridesmaids, McCarthy has played an unemployed, bitter ex-wife in Tammy; a brash extraterrestrial crime fighter in Ghostbusters; and even an extremely successful and ruthless businesswoman in The Boss. While her characters have all had bold personalities, nothing about their size has been the focal point of their storylines.

But the Oscar-nominated actress, who has written and produced many of her own projects, makes a valid point when discussing the thinly-veiled bias Hollywood has toward women who aren't conventionally prim and proper.

"Having two daughters [Vivian, eleven, and Georgette, eight], I think there is a weird layer in the world [for women] where it’s not just about looks but it’s also, 'Are you pleasant? Do you not make trouble?' I don’t want to be around someone who’s a pain in the ass and confrontational, but I also don’t think that you always have to be Stepford Wife-y and can’t have opinions."

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A 2018 report from San Diego State University found that the number of women working behind the scenes in the film industry has marginally improved over the past decade. Last year, women accounted for 20 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.

With change happening behind the scenes, one can contend that narrow perceptions of what women can and should be in front of the camera will evolve.