Star Wars needs to stop being fatphobic

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Warning: This article contains spoilers from episode 6 of Andor

One of the best elements of Star Wars: Andor is the rich nuance and depth within all the characters and exploration of themes. This made it all the more disappointing when the otherwise phenomenal sixth episode “The Eye” featured a scene lacking the nuance and depth that is present throughout the rest of the series.

The scene in question occurs when Imperial commandant Jayhold Beehaz struggles to fit a sash around his uniform. Beehaz tells his wife to help him with the sash instead of helping their 12-year-old get dressed.

He is insistent that the sash does not fit because it was not stored properly, with his wife suggesting that her husband has instead “expanded” since he wore it last. Beehaz reacts to this comment by scolding and threatening to hit his son.

The scene continues a troubling trend in Star Wars of using fatness to convey that a character is greedy, selfish, corrupt, and evil. This is not the first time this has been done in Andor, with Cassian using the phrase “fat and satisfied” to describe the Empire earlier in the series.

It was already made clear earlier in this episode that Beehaz is a bigoted individual who views the people of Aldhani as uncivilized, disposable creatures, and that all he cares about is his own advancement and comfort.

Fat-shaming his character to portray his self-centered and cruel nature is a lazy and outdated stereotype and is not befitting of the exceptional writing present throughout the rest of the series. It furthers the harmful stereotype that fatness is equivalent to negative character traits.

The scene does has some merit in that it shows Beehaz is a loathsome individual and is no better around his family than he is among the Imperials. His moral failings could have been further shown in other countless ways instead of resorting to his weight as a reason he is loathsome or the reason that he treats his family cruelly and dismissively.

Given that Beehaz collapses and dies from a heart attack later on during the heist, some fans might argue that his fatness and the sash scene foreshadow his death. If this is the case, it only adds to the fatphobia, suggesting that a fat person will die from a heart attack if they are forced to complete physical labor and experience considerable stress.

A history of fat-shaming and fatphobia

Andor is certainly not the first time that Star Wars has relied on fat-shaming and fatphobia. The first fat character that many Star Wars fans think of is Jabba the Hutt, who is more frequently considered disgusting because of his weight and not for his treatment of Princess Leia or his many other crimes.

There is the Ryloth senator Orn Free Taa whose weight is used to show that he cares only about himself and does not care about the people of Ryloth.

In live-action Star Wars television, the trend continued with Bib Fortuna. When Boba Fett and Fennec Shand confronted him in the post-credits season of The Mandalorian season 2, Bib Fortuna is shown to have gained considerable weight since his last onscreen appearance in Return of the Jedi.

His fatness is used to quickly convey to the audience that he has become gluttonous and complacent in the years since he took Jabba’s throne for himself and that despite the power he can now wield, he is nothing more than an avaricious character who does not deserve to live. Boba Fett almost immediately shoots and kills Bib Fortuna, killing off a familiar character seconds after he was shown to now be fat.

Even more recent is the change to Dexter Jettster’s weight in the upcoming Phase II High Republic Adventures comics. Dex is a fan favorite for many reasons and fans were thrilled to learn that they would get to see his story hundreds of years earlier in the timeline.

Unfortunately, a panel previewed for the upcoming comics show that Dex is not fat in this story. To the credit of writer Daniel José Older, this issue was brought to his attention, he spoke with numerous individuals at length about it, and he collaborated with the publishers to ensure that future issues of the comics will depict Dex as fat.

Dex is one of the few examples in Star Wars of fatness not being used to demonize a character. It was understandably disconcerting for fans to learn that one of the few examples of positive fat representation in Star Wars was being taken away, and it is important that Older and the publishers took steps to amend this.

The High Republic also deserves credit for featuring heroic and likable fat characters in Phase I, from the Jedi Porter Engle who is known for being the formidable Blade of Bardotta and talented cook, to the tech-savvy and quirky Jedi Padawan Ram Jomaram.

Of course, not all fat characters need to be likable heroes, but storytellers shouldn’t be using fatness just to show a character’s moral failings.

Andor and all the other aforementioned titles are phenomenal stories, with many of them featuring diverse representation. Yet, these many positive elements don’t negate the valid critiques of the franchise’s fatphobia.

Moving forward, hopefully Andor and all Star Wars stories will be more inclusive and less fatphobic when it comes to representing various body types.

dark. Next. Luthen Rael is the Batman of Star Wars