Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl was the first time I’d ever seen Batgirl in a live-action setting, and even then, I knew something was weird. I’d been introduced to the Batman world through the animated series, so I knew Barbara Gordon was the red-haired daughter of Jim Gordon, not the niece of Alfred Pennyworth named Barbara Wilson.
While there was that sense of wrongness there, I never held it against Silverstone. I was a child when I saw Batman & Robin, and in the end, what did it really matter? Well, it mattered to a bunch of people who derided Silverstone as “Fatgirl.”
See? The internet didn’t make people terrible; it was in us all this time.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, the Clueless star spoke about the experience of being flung into mainstream stardom
“They would make fun of my body when I was younger,” Silverstone said. “It was hurtful but I knew they were wrong. I wasn’t confused. I knew that it was not right to make fun of someone’s body shape, that doesn’t seem like the right thing to be doing to a human.”
She says that her role as Batgirl in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin “definitely wasn’t [her] favourite film-making experience” and that it brought a new focus on her weight. According to the article, the tabloids would refer to her as “Fatgirl,” and some paparazzi would chant that to her as they chased her for pics.
Now, it goes without saying that Alicia Silverstone looked amazing as Batgirl, and considering it was a tight costume with nipple outlines built into it, just the very idea that she was dubbed “Fatgirl” is outrageous, but it doesn’t even matter what she looked like. Silverstone is right. Body shaming is not right, no matter what. There are plenty of things to criticize and tear down about that movie, but to sit there and make jokes about Silverstone’s weight is just the lowest.
It isn’t shocking, though, because as we saw during Birds of Prey, there were repeated tweets calling Margot Robbie unattractive in her costumes because she was dressing like a character with a personality, rather than a walking sex dream. This is why we can’t have nice things—not because of “SJWs,” but because of every mediocre person on the internet who decides that if they can’t hyper-sexualize the person bringing to life their comic book fantasy, that means they are “fat” or “ugly” or somehow unworthy.
The whole thing makes me so mad because this film was the first live-action version of Batgirl, and they changed literally everything about her for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom (unlike with Cassandra Cain, where I can at least see some stereotypes they were looking to avoid). Alicia Silverstone was the first and only choice for the role, and I can only guess that’s because Schumacher wanted to capitalize on her post-Clueless fame and appeal, but much like most female actresses who get cast in roles for those reasons (ie: Halle Berry, Megan Fox, Jennifer Lawrence, etc), it rarely works out in the long term for that actress.
(via Page Six, image: Warner Bros.)
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