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Melissa McCarthy: Agent of change

There have been a few changes in the life of plus-sized comedy star Melissa McCarthy. The Bridesmaids star tackles the critics about her weight head on.

She plays an undercover agent in her latest comedy flick Spy, and it seems Melissa McCarthy has her disappearing act down to a tee. Appearing at the film’s premiere in Berlin, the 44-year-old debuted her reported 23kg weight loss as she posed on the red carpet. Dressed in a printed kaftan and fitted tan pants, Melissa was glowing as she waved to the crowd – and she has every reason to smile.
The Bridesmaids star’s weight has unfortunately become a point of contention in recent years, with film critics choosing to focus more on her looks than her work. The New York Observer’s Rex Reed called her a “female hippo” in her role in Identity Thief, while another reviewer gave a scathing review of Tammy, stating she was only a good actor when she appeared more attractive.
Pictured on the red carpet for her movie Tammy (left), Melissa was widely criticised for the way she looked. A year later (right), Melissa debuted her 23kg weight loss on the red carpet in Berlin for new movie Spy.
But Melissa came out swinging against the negative comments, most recently at the Toronto Film Festival when she confronted the Tammy critic. She asked him, “Would you say [those comments] to any guy? When John C. Reilly – or any actor – is playing a character that is depressed, would you say, ‘Well, you look terrible!’?”
She then asked the reviewer if he had a daughter. When he replied he did, she said, “Watch what you say to her. Do you tell her she’s only worthwhile or valid when she’s pretty?”
Melissa is the mother of two girls, Vivian (8) and five-year-old Georgette, and is aware of what she calls the “intense sickness” of Hollywood. She is trying to educate her daughters to have a positive body image. Her weight has always been a struggle for Melissa, saying she’s been “every size in the world”. She credits her daughters for spurring her to lose weight and set a healthy example.
In her latest film, Spy, which also stars British comedienne Miranda Hart (left), Melissa plays a dowdy CIA analyst.
“I have caught my reflection and thought, ‘Oof. That girl is struggling. That girl is tired,’” she says. “I’ve had mornings where I’m like, ‘Oh, God, I have weird hair. I look like Fraggle Rock.’ [But] who cares if my eyes are puffy because I ate 44 almonds last night? To my core, I don’t care... I’ve let go of that quest for perfection.”
Her next step is to launch a clothing line for plus-sized women in department stores. “I feel like there’s a big thing missing where you can’t dress to your mood above a certain number,” she says. “It’s a strange thing to stop at a certain size. Women don’t, so why should clothes?”

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