When I first spotted Savahnnah Dooley’s petite frame, long brown hair, glasses and combat boots standing with her arms folded across her chest, I thought with glee someone was about to make a live-action Daria movie.
It turns out, Dooley (who just so happens to be a fellow queer gal pal) is responsible for penning one of my favorite shows of the summer, Huge.
If you’ve read anything of mine on AfterEllen.com, you’ve probably seen me allude to my love of weight loss shows or heard me speak of going to fat camp (twice). When I first heard about the making of this show, I was completely apprehensive. Up until this point, the only very heavy-set people on television are either incredibly morbidly obese reality show contestants or loveable goofs married to hot ladies on primetime TV. I wasn’t sure if television was ready to accept a show about heavy kids. It turns out, this was the show I had been waiting for almost my entire life. For Savannah, it turns out it’s a dream project as well.
Savannah and her co-writer/mom Winnie Holzman
In an interview with Jezebel, Dooley comments on how the project came to her:
ABC Family had pitched this as a TV movie, and they brought the concept of this book into it. Just hearing the concept — two girls at weight loss camp — I completely flipped out. It was like someone had looked into my dreams of the perfect fantasy project! I was getting increasingly angry about our beauty standards … and getting all angry and feminist-y and bitterer by the minute. I also spent my teen years dealing with a lot of body image s–t. So that was something that was really close to me. Also, my teen years were spent at a camp that really changed my life — not a weight loss camp, an arts camp. But I had such vivid and meaningful memories from this camp — it was such a self-discovery for me. And it had a lot to do with body image issues at the time, so a lot of it comes from personal experience.
Savannah and the Huge crew (including her mom, My-So Called Life creator Winnie Holzman) have done an incredible job of putting the plight of the heavy girls and boys on the small screen. We’re not all jolly, not everyone sees their extra weight as a problem, some of us are LARPers — we’re just like everyone else.
When I really think about it, growing up chubby and growing up gay are more similar than I could have expressed myself before watching this show. In the same way I held back my first-relationship butterflies and heartbreaks from some of my very best friends, I hid my body behind huge clothing. I was just really lucky that Jncos and Cross Coulors were in fashion back then.
The first time I went to a gay club, I was nervous, but I was at home. Fat camp ended up being the first place I allowed anyone to see me in a bathing suit since I was 6 years old. I felt so free to be myself – I even led the first-ever camp Fat Girl Bra Dance in The Rain. If you’ve never done that, try it. It is incredibly liberating.
What’s next for Dooley? Well, she says her next dream project would be to write about a camp for queer kids.
It’s certainly underrepresented. It’s weird that there’s nothing you can watch that’s like that, that’s got a sense of humor, that’s direct. In a good way. Where gay is the focus instead of the sidekick. That’s what I want to do. That fictional show Queer, about a gay camp. Maybe it’s across the lake. Like a spin-off.
If that were to ever happen, you better believe I’d be pushing every other blogger on here out of the way in order to recap it.
Dooley isn’t sure about the renewal of Huge just yet, but this chubby girl is waiting with bated breath, a footlong veggie sub from Subway and a bag of chips.