'Glee' Star Ashley Fink Is the Kid We Wanted to Be

Jeanne Sager
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Glee Ashley FinkEver since Glee introduced actress Ashley Fink as wrestler turned songstress Lauren Zizes, I've been waffling on whether I'm a fan. Finally, the former bulimic in me says, a girl who isn't stick thin on national television, playing a high schooler no less! Of course the other side of me has had to warm to her somewhat abrasive personality over the past few months.

But America, we need Ashley Fink/Lauren Zizes. Or rather, our girls need her. Ironically this came crashing down on me not as I sat watching the 90-minute "learn to love yourself" episode that included Zizes showing her heartbreak over being told she no longer fit the pageant mold. It was looking at a picture of Fink hamming it up with a little girl who is a tad bit on the hefty side during filming of the "Born This Way" episode.

Making a cheesy grin similar to the little girl's, it's a photo that at this writing has more than 6,800 likes on the Glee Facebook page. A few nasty comments were inevitable -- it is the Internet after all -- but with 1,400 comments overall, people are quite literally crying out for her to help our kids:

If glee was around when I was a child it would have made growing up alot easier♥

I could have used a show like Glee as a fat theater geek in highschool. So glad there are role models out there now. Love unapologetic big beautiful fat girls, good for you!!!

That picture is so cute and since the show is about Excepting the way you are it is perfect. I ♥ how Laren dosn't care what people say to her and how they make her feel. She is a great model for kids on the heavier side.

In case the near-daily bullying reports in the media didn't clue you in, it's hard being a fat kid. It's hard because of the societal stigma. It's hard because of Photoshopping in magazines. It's hard because the varying lifestyles in America make being overweight unfathomable for a whole sector of society who just doesn't "get" what happens to fat people. That we may exercise and eat healthy foods doesn't even cross their minds.

But what makes it hard being a kid and being overweight in particular is the lack of positive attention paid to overweight people. There are stories, instead, about how Gabby Sidibe may be a great actress, but daaaaamn, that girl could lose some weight. Stories about how "icky" it is to see fat people on CBS' Mike and Molly. They say they don't want to glorify obesity, but what they're doing is akin to keeping black or gay characters off of TV. It's ignoring a sector of society, whitewashing them away as though they don't exist.

And then there's Ashley Fink/Lauren Zizes. Her character isn't just a way to give the 9 million or so American kids who are overweight a touchstone to make them feel less alone, less desperate. She's a reminder for the more than 50 percent of so-called "normal weight" teens who think THEY are overweight that, to put it bluntly, they're NOT. And if they are, they're being offered the chance to see that it's just a part of them. That TV doesn't haven't to glorify "fat," but it can accept that in a world where childhood obesity is a problem, these kids DO exist. They don't have to be ignored anymore. They have value.

Yes, Fink is overweight. But she's also going places in life. She's on a hot TV show -- one she was obsessed with before getting the role -- and she celebrates what she brings to American living rooms once a week. As she told Celeb Buzz:

In life, there’s so much diversity, and it’s not necessarily represented on television. I think Glee is one of the few shows that actually displays the diversity and it’s just so inspirational.

Ashley is an inspiration more kids need to see. What do you think about the addition of Lauren Zizes to the cast?

 

Image via Fox

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