Is It Okay to Find Glee's Plus-Sized Character, Lauren Zizes, Gross?

By Seth Abramovitch

Mar 09, 2011

Last night was Glee’s “Sexy” episode, marking the return of substitute teacher Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow), who, like a kinky Mary Poppins, floated into McKinley High to verse the cast on the ABCs of the birds and the bees. Along the way, we were given more sex-themed plot lines than there are diagrams in the Kama Sutra: Penis-phobic guidance counselor Emma was afraid of her husband’s “Hose Monster,” icy Santana wished she knew how to quit tonsil-hockey partner Brittany; Blaine enlisted Kurt’s dad to talk to him about the fundamentals of gay sex; Quinn and Finn had makeup sex; Rachel yammered on about something probably sex-related, I think; and Puck and Lauren Zizes attempted to make a sex tape.


Yes, the hormonal Puck and his large-and-in-charge obsession spent the episode plotting to film their own sex tape, which Zizes thinks will rocket her to a Kardashian level of fame (a reality show and fragrance). Puck, who was hoping to finally “motorboat those twins,” reluctantly signed on. There was something really gross about this plot to me. And so I had to ask myself: Why? Was it any grosser than any of the other romantic entanglements between the more conventionally attractive couples of Glee? Or was some kind of deep-seated prejudice I harbor against fat people bubbling up? I mean, as far as I know, I have no issue with fat people, and there are plenty of skinny people out there who I would prefer not to see naked. So why does Puck and Lauren’s relationship always make me want to hurl?

Let’s examine the evidence.

Zizes has been hailed by feminists groups (well, by Bust Magazine) as a new kind of plus-sized heroine—an obese female role model who for once doesn’t hate herself. On the contrary, she thinks she’s the bee’s knees. When Puck serenaded her with Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” she rebuffed him, saying, “I look like America looks, and just like America, I need more than just a song to get my juices flowing.”

Right, well. I guess it would be hard to argue with that. But Zizes isn’t just a heavy, supremely confident girl. She’s also extremely violent. She’s on the wrestling team, speaks regularly of injuring Puck, and, in one hallway smackdown against the jealous Santana, proved she was a lot more than just bark. And you did catch that part about Zizes wanting to be famous for famous’ sake, right? That she was willing to give herself up to Puck purely in pursuit of a reality show and fragrance line? There’s a word for people who do things like that in the real world: It’s “assh*le.”

I think what’s going on here is that the writers of Glee see, in the hypersexualized and pugnacious dialogue between Lauren and Puck, a way of earning some of the shock-laughs that have become Glee’s calling card. But at the same time, they want their Zizes cake, too, with the preachy series turning the character into a role model for the overweight and downtrodden. Couldn’t they then be accused of both using, and hiding behind, Zizes’s size (or, more specifically, that of Ashley Fink, the capable actress who portrays her) to serve their own conflicting goals? I think they could.

So there you have it. I don’t think Zizes is gross because she’s fat. I think she’s gross because she’s an assh*le.

Do you like the character of Lauren Zizes? What did you think of Tuesday's safe-sex episode?

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  • laurensabamf Jul 11, 2011

    This makes me sick. What's the difference between Santana and Lauren? They're both equally violent and they both brag about it. They both speak their minds, their both bullies, and they're both FAR too sure of themselves. Yet, Santana seems to be one of the most beloved characters on the show. I love both Santana and Lauren, but I don't see a whole lot of difference in personality between the two.

    To riley_cooperman,
    Are you serious? She had an unhealthy obsession with Tator Tots (touching on the unhealthiness), she tried to use unhealthy weight loss drinks that made her vomit after meals for the Cheerios (eating disorders), both of which were resolved. Either way, being overweight doesn't always correlate with bad health. To greysncis2010- The way she's treating Puck? If you ask me, it's high time he got a piece of his own medicine!

    To vitalygalubo or WHATEVER your name is, (I'm not going back because you're comment will piss me off all over again)- Every single person has the right to feel amazing in their own body. Not only that, but it doesn't matter what you think, because you are no higher than anybody who is overweight. I just, I can't with you. The only thing I can use to describe your entire comment is "ignorant". You obviously know very little about being overweight, health, addictions, and having any self pride in personality instead of looks. It's sickening.

  • JenniferRoger2 Apr 19, 2011

    Just found this article. While I like Ashley the person. I absolutely HATE Lauren. She is a bully. Do I find her character gross yes! But it has more to do with her wardrobe and actions than her size. Mercedes is the role model for big girl. She is class not crass. She also had chemistry with Puck which Lauren doesnt.

  • riley_cooperman Mar 16, 2011

    I think show is saying it is ok to be unhealthy and unfit and obese. I think even the song last night from Mercedes was saying, I don't care what you think, I am going to look the way I want but they are ignoring the problem.
    How about a plot where they are trying to lose weight over the course of the season?

  • greysncis2010 Mar 16, 2011

    I agree with you. I also don't like the character. I think her character's obnoxious. People can find their confidence without putting other people down, her treatment of Puck is not ok.

  • iamApollo Mar 14, 2011

    I agree, she is an assh*le. In fact, apart from a few, all the girls are assh*les, Especially Rachel.

  • RosieIngham Jul 28, 2012

    Britney, Tina and Mercedes are not assholes, britney does act mean but she is also very innocent. I fucking hate Rachel she is a spcheating slag. And so annoying she steals everyone else's solos. She isn't the best singer out of that group but she acts like she is.

  • Jux_ta_pose Mar 14, 2011

    I guess i'm not seeing what you do because I really enjoy the Lauren/Puck storyline and I think the characters are fabulous in themselves. I can't take anything too seriously on this show, its a send up of every character type. You say you have nothing against 'fat people' yet just about every character on that show has glaring flaws but you only single Lauren out....hmmm Me thinks you should look a little more honestly about what you wrote.

  • bluemystique Mar 13, 2011

    It's a show whose sole purpose is to play up stereotypes and work with extreme examples of certain "characters". I actually like Lauren. All of the characters have a over the top negative side just like all of them have some vulnerability. They've taken bullies like Santana and Dave Karofsky (who are no better or worst then Lauren is as far as bullying goes) and made the vulnerable and humanized to make them redeemable. That's just the way it works. Her character wanting to be famous for famous sake? That's pretty much half the club. I mean they all want to be famous on some level or another. Rachel is obsessed with it. Sure she has a better voice and is talented but still equally if not more obsessed to an unhealthy degree.

    Even Lauren with Puck is amusing. Why? Because they're similar! Both mostly arrogant individuals with a violent streak. Both of them talk down to other people to make themselves feel better...shall I continue? I don't feel bad for Puck in this relationship that they have because he's done the same thing to other people, he's pretty much the exact same way and wouldn't take it personally himself, and honestly that's the only way you get a guy like Puck to actually respect you. She's beating him at his own game. I think that's part of what makes her praised as representing feminism. She knows how to get down and dirty like the guys, she has "guy" like qualities, and the responses she gets are sort of sexist. She's an overweight, female version of Puck and yet she gets a negative response. It's something to think about.

  • RosieIngham Jul 28, 2012

    Mercedes is better than that slam Rachel, I hate glee now it is a piece of crap

  • momochuu Mar 12, 2011

    Why is it okay for us to simply label a character such as Santana "icy", yet call Lauren an assh*le? For me, Santana hasn't had a redeeming character development scenario UNTIL her almost sudden revelation about her sexuality, so yes, +1 to Santana, but did we forget Lauren overcoming her nerves to sing in front of the club? Sure, it wasn't an extremely serious scene nor did it last long, but it was her human moment. She sticks up for herself, something we're not used to seeing a fat girl do. She's supposed to slink back in her box and not get in anybody's way, right? God forbid she has a personality, let alone an abrasive one.

    How could she 'give herself up' to Puck? Have we even established that she's a virgin? She's openly very sexual, we've known that since the whole seven minutes in heaven thing. Saying she's violent is both correct and incorrect I think - on one hand, she's a competitive wrestler, took part in a smackdown with Santana (who was very adamant about fighting back if you recall, not much of a victim). Puck however, has thrown around violent comments since day dot, thrown numerous kids into dumpsters, locked them in portapotties, and probably a lot more. He's also the token man slut, you know, the pool cleaning business, his numerous conquests of MILFs? Why does that not ruffle any feathers? The point in Lauren and Puck becoming an item is that they're almost completely the same. The only difference is that Lauren is fat.

  • aislingxireland Mar 11, 2011

    i agree with you seth i dont like her at all :(

    her character is so over the top like even im not that full of my self and confident and like im a average weight or whatever

    when she goes on about how amazing and sexy she is it just makes you pay attention to her flaws because its just so annoyingly fake !!

  • MidgardDragon99 Mar 11, 2011

    No. Justify it all you want but you are simply anti-fat, like most of the internet. You can try and try to find rationalizations, but it's always gonna come back to the word "gross". You don't say that about attractive but assholish people. You say that because "omg she has fat rolls!" and you know it. Your denial only makes the truth stronger.

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