Rebel, Rebel

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm


A word of explanation is necessary about my column, The Rules, as it appeared in Melbourne’s Age newspaper this Sunday on the subject of the marvellous Rebel Wilson (and which I’ve run in full below).

The M section does a lovely job each week, splashing my column with the celebrity picture and then supporting it with some pics of suggested merchandise to get the look.

These items are sourced and selected by the excellent stylist Erin Munro, who does a brilliant job, with a very short deadline from getting my copy, to when she has to supply the pictures to the paper.

It’s a tricky ask, because the merchandise pictures not only have to be right for what I’ve written, they have be a specific format – flat photos of the garment, not on models – so that the page can maintain its design cohesion from week to week. And the stuff has to be in stock in the shops the day the newspaper comes out.

The thing is, not all brands supply these pictures – and as it turned out this week, it was impossible for her to get a suitable shot from any company that makes dresses over a size 14…

So to all the readers who have protested about us using a picture of a dress that doesn’t go beyond this limited size to illustrate a column about a fabulous woman who is definitely bigger than that – we can only agree and apologise.

And if any of you are connected with Australian fashion retailers which sell larger sizes and have flat lay photographs available at short notice for editorial use – please get in touch.

Now, here’s the column – which runs every Sunday in the Age and the Sun Herald and which you can read online each week here

The Rules by Maggie Alderson


Rule: to thyself be true

How much do I love Rebel Wilson? Words fail me, that’s how much. But I know someone who loves her just as much, if not more: Rebel Wilson. And I mean that in a good way.

I’m not saying she’s a moi, moi, moi and did I mention? moi kind of a girl, but that she’s a grown woman with a healthy regard for herself. She has what we all want for our daughters – high self-esteem, meaning that she holds herself in high esteem. No wonder she was the first actor to be cast in Pitch Perfect – as in the box office name, who would bring the punters in.

From her first moment in the film, when she turns up in front of the stand for the all-girl a cappella group at the freshman activities fair at Barden College, she owns the screen, because she owns the body she’s standing in. No apologies.

She was hilarious in Bridesmaids too – and that was up against fellow funny fatty Melissa McCarthy and she was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA for her performance in that film.

What’s that I hear? Was it the rustle of garments as people flinch in shock because I used the word ‘fatty’? Well, fatty fatty fatty FATTY.

Because that’s what’s so beautiful about these women, they wouldn’t give a flying pork chop to be called that. Wilson is called Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect and doesn’t look she minds any more than the character does.

She and McCarthy own their size, they’re happy with it and if anyone else thinks it’s funny – great. Laugh with me and then hand over that Oscar, thank you. And it is laugh with me. That’s the difference these brilliant, funny, fat women are making.

There has been a long tradition of plus-sized comedic actresses – Hattie Jacques (the matron in Carry On Doctor…) being a particular favourite of mine – but they were more figures of fun, to be laughed at for their body shapes.
Rebel and Melissa – and blazing a trail before them, Magda Szubanski and Dawn French – are in on the joke.

In fact, they’re making the jokes. And by owning the word fat, laughing about it, making it a ‘thing’, they’re taking the hurt out of it. Just as gay men took back ‘queer’ and black hip hop stars claimed the N-word, taking over its power, by making it OK to say – but only for them.

If fat stops being a taboo word, that must be a good step along the road to changing our ridiculously rigid ideas about body shape.

Now I do know Ms Wilson was for a while the spokesperson for a certain prominent ‘weight loss and nutrition’ company, which was a bit disappointing in light of all the above.

But she gave up the – no doubt, lucrative – contract, not long after signing for Pitch Perfect, as part of that deal was that she didn’t lose any weight. They wanted Fat Amy, not Slightly Rounded Amy, or If I Could Just Lose the Last Five Kilos Amy.

She hasn’t shown any sign of losing weight since, but it wouldn’t matter if she did. While no one should be judged for the weight they are, if they want to change it that’s fine too. It doesn’t make them a better or worse person. Just a different dress size.

Dawn French lost seven stone, a couple of years ago, has now put two back on and says she was happy with her body at all the weights. She’s just conscious of keeping an eye on it as she gets older for the undeniable health implications.

So how does Rebel Wilson look in her outfit for the Glamour magazine Awards? Exactly that. Glamorous. She’s working Adele style in a high-waisted Marina Rinaldi dress and updo hair, set off by a very cute pair of pointy pumps which perfectly show case her well-turned ankles.

The only thing I would change is to slightly stronger make up. She’s got the mouth for a pop-out red lippie and I’d like to see a smokier eye against her creamy skin and blonde hair too.

So she looks great – and even better at the end of the evening, when the outfit was accessorised with her Glamour Award for Film Actress. Next, I want to see her on the magazine’s cover.

PS And now look what I’ve found. She is on the cover of Glamour magazine’s July edition. Bloody brilliant!


  1. Column is fantastic as is Rebel Wilson but I just will not buy The Age any more due to its remorseless sledging of Australia’s first female PM. So, good that you’ve published it here but it is a candle holding its light in the midst of the dark wilderness of MSM and its attitudes to women in general.

  2. Thank you for getting it right yet again! It’s all about self-esteem – so, how to foster that? By parenting well. Thank you, Dawn French’s dad, for showing me the way to encourage a good sense of self in my beautiful, neat-as-pin but big-boned 12 year old daughter. In her memoir Dear Fatty, Dawn includes a story of her first real party. Keen to impress the boy of her dreams she shopped, primped and preened like she’d never done before, and when she appeared before the family dressed in a purple suede fringed jacket with matching hot pants – and boots?! – her lovely dad said … she looked absolutely gorgeous and any boy at the party would have to be pretty damn special to measure up. The outcome? She went to the party feeling fabulous about herself and didn’t give a toss about The Boy – and had the time of her life. This was not about her weight, nor her fashion choices, but just about HER – a gorgeous girl.
    Thanks again to you and the late but so aware Mr French.

    • oh what a wonderful story… I must read that book, thanks for the tip.

      There are some men who measure (literally…) women entirely by their dress size, because they need the self esteem boost themselves of having the female equivalent of a Porsche on their arm – and I say that as someone who actually loathes Porsches. I don’t think they are beautiful cars at all, but they are a known status symbol.

      On the other hand, I’ve observed a lot of other men who are more comfortable with themselves and are attracted to confident women irrespective of their jeans size.


      • dont you think Maggie it’s women judging other women that’s a big part of the problem?

        Also both Dawn and Rebel are funny me a serious young dramatic actress thier size and I would start to believe things are changing …did love that column on Rebel though

      • There’s so many strands to it… women judging others lest they are judged, all that. And yes, the real breakthrough will be when the lead actress is fat and on the cover of Vogue in a designer dress that hasn’t had to be specially made for her. I still think Rebel is important for her appeal to the young. My 10 year old thinks she is the ‘bomb’ (as she would put it…).

  3. You have an online column!? I’m so there.
    I also think Rebel looks amaaazing in that leather get-up! It’s cheeky and awesome. And the Glamour cover! Wow!
    I’m really annoyed for you that you couldn’t get appropriate dress sizes for your column. Stupid designers.

  4. Agree with all you are saying, Maggie. However I just wish the photo of Rebel on the cover of Glamour did not look like one of those 80’s shots that women of a certain age had taken in shopping centres.
    Why can’t we see more of her, like we would a “smaller” star?

    • I know what you’re saying, but a head shot is pretty standard for a mag cover. I’m going to go to my local newsagent later and have a look inside the mag. Part of the problem with doing photo shoots of fat beauties though, is that the big designers just don’t make samples in any size other than would fit an ant. It used to drive me bonkers when I was a magazine editor. The outfit that goes on the catwalk is the one they lend to magazines – there is only one sample of each look. They’re not keen to lend stock out of stores, so there’s a lot more to change in fashion than just choosing bigger models…

  5. Dear M, Rebel is gorgeous and a fine actor (apparently also super bright) and how about that complexion! Love her. BX

  6. Excellent column as usual Maggie – Rebel is funny and gorgeous, and deserves all her successes.

  7. I’m ‘curvy’ too, still cant quite manage the word fat after growing up with it and a life time of negative associations and hurtful stereotyping. Its lucky i was born with a strong sense of self and of my own worth, and had a loving family who encouraged me in every way, because community fat shaming can be crushing otherwise, and it is particularly awful for teenagers. Oh how much good it does my soul to see some wonderful role models emerging like rebel Wilson, something I never had growing up. I cheer when I see her, she is awesome, as is the other curvy role model, Adele. The fashion industry ( still mainly online) is finally waking up to the huge segment of the market they have been allowed to sneer at for years, I just love her leather outfit, amazing, some designer has actually allowed sexy large size clothing to be made, possibly even with their name on it, revolutionary! The fact however that you couldnt even obtain a simple photograph is symptomatic of a generally sinister bias by designers and retailers. Australian retailers, if they continue to provide zero choice, will continue to lose out to online international retailers, and I have no sympathy for them. Ive been writing letters of complaint to them for years with no response, in fact choice is decreasing in store here if anything. Thank you for publishing. Viva Rebel!

    • Good for you – writing to the retailers. I must say in the UK most of the high street brands go up to the very least an 18 and many up to 22. Boden, for example goes from a 6 to a 22, and it’s not seen as a ‘specialist’ retailer, just taking care of business – and incredibly successful because of it. Link here

      I can understand that the word FAT makes you flinch after all those years of nastiness – and I had a very good friend who was big and I heard what she had to put up with – but I think it would be great if you could take the hurt back by owning the bad word, as in ‘queer’. Curvy is a nice word but it feels patronising when I write it.

  8. Rebel Wilson has the best smile. She’s happy in her own skin; she’s gorgeous and she revels in it.

    Now where can I get the same leather kit?

  9. As a more curvaceous model myself, I often buy beautiful clothes online. My biggest annoyance with Australian curvy fashion is the raggedy hem. For God’s sake … Looked great on Stevie Nicks in the 80’s but very,very few others. It makes my skin boil. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

    • ha ha ha that’s so funny as I did some research myself after this all blew up to see what was out there and thought exactly the same. Why would a woman want to wear a horrid dated handkerchief hem just because she happens to be a size 20? And also so many dresses over leggings combos. That look has its place in every woman’s wardrobe for those between season days, but not every day! x

  10. Hi Maggie, love your column. M magazine is never afraid of incorporating plus-size stories which is just great! The challenge for finding plus-size clothing samples larger than a size 14 is one that has driven me bonkers for years too. However, fear not, there are some fabulous plus-size designers here in Australia that I know can help. Please feel free to contact me on anything plus-size related for future resources or comment. I’d love to add value. You can find me at Great article! Love your shape! Janine

    • Thanks so much for this, Janine – I’m going to pass it on to Erin as she is the one who does the work finding the pieces to feature with my stories. Really appreciate it x

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