The Dilemma of Easter
In a very short while, American Gods will premiere.
When I saw the first look trailer, I was giddy. I continue to be giddy. American Gods was a book that changed my life in the best of ways.
Despite the giddiness, I know to temper my expectations. I know this is an adaptation. I know Bryan Fuller will bring his own interpretation of this epic story to the small screen. I know that changes will be made and I will try not to let that affect my own vision of adaptation. I will watch it and I will love it no matter what.
Except in one regard.
A few months ago it was announced that the character of Easter would be played by Kristen Chenoweth.
Kristen Chenoweth is talented. She oozes charisma. She has that southern US charm to win anyone over. In many ways, she is a good choice for Easter.
But she is not Easter. Not to me.
In the books Easter’s first appearance is described by the following:
“She was–not fat, no, far from fat: what she was, a word that Shadow had never had cause to use until now, was curvaceous. Her hair was so fair that it was white, the kind of platinum-blonde tresses that should have belonged to a long-dead movie starlet, her lips were painted crimson, and she looked to be somewhere between twenty-five and fifty.”
And then later on, she describes herself…
“New Orleans was such a mistake–I put on, what, thirty pounds there? I swear. I knew I had to leave when I started to waddle. The tops of my thighs rub together when I walk now, can you believe that?”
Maybe I read too much into it but Easter is a part of what made American Gods so important to me. She was confident and insecure all at the same time. She looked like me. She was a chubbier woman like myself. Unlike myself though, she was completely comfortable in who she was.
In my fantasies I imagined American Gods getting an adaptation dreamed of myself getting cast in the role of Easter. Even before I quit professional acting (which partly had to do with my inability to be a proper weight), I knew this was not a possibility. She had a natural confidence and sexiness that even at the pique of my acting career I had to fight to exude.
When I heard that American Gods would miraculously get the television adaptation so many of its fans desired, I imagined actresses like Christina Hendricks getting offered the role: shapely women who exuded confidence and charm.
Instead we got Kristen Chenoweth…full of the confidence and charm, sure, but very much a skinny woman in a skinny world that would always accept her and would never have trouble finding her place within it. I should not have been surprised. But I was. And I am saddened by it.
I wish it did not bother me so much. I wish I could shake it off and just let it go. But there she is. Skinny Kristen Chenoweth. Accepting a role meant for a shaplier woman while other actresses continue to scrounge for parts relegated to “chubby best friend/co-worker”.
I do not mean this as a sleight to Kristen Chenoweth. I adore her. I understand why she was chosen. Bryan Fuller worked with her before on Pushing Daisies. She is extremely talented. Nor am I mad at Bryan Fuller. It is not his job to appease every fan’s desires. It is his job to bring his own interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s words to the screen.
I am simply sad. As much as we say that every body shape is important and beautiful, there is still not much room for those body shapes to be represented in our media. It is changing, ever so slowly, but the big budget endeavors still play it very much safe when it comes to physical appearance on screen (apart from comedy perhaps).
In my eyes, Easter will always be a chubby (or curvaceous) woman who mattered. She had dimensions and a character arc. She knew who she was and she was never ashamed of that. She went for what she wanted. She made me feel better about who I was.
That is the Easter that I will remember and hold on to. I will of course still watch the miniseries and more than likely adore it. But my Easter remains in the books and she will continue to inspire me when I write. If anything good came from this, it is that small comfort.