Rebellious Bodies: Stardom, Citizenship, and the New Body Politics.Ed.
Russell Meeuf. University of Texas Press, 2017. 237 pp. $29.95
Although the entertainment industry sets beauty conventions, on
rare occasion, it also makes space for certain celebrities who exist
outside of the norm. Russell Meeuf analyzes various celebrities who
have achieved fame and success despite their nonnormative bodies.
By allowing these celebrities into the fold, Hollywood is able to per-
petuate the myth of meritocracy—the idea that if one works hard
enough, like these celebrities, anyone can become rich and famous.
However, in Rebellious Bodies, Meeuf explores the patriarchal compro-
mise many of these exceptional celebrities make in order to earn cul-
tural citizenship and gain a seat at the table.
Meeuf performs close readings of six popular celebrities–Melissa
McCarthy, Gabourey Sidibe, Peter Dinklage, Danny Trejo, Betty
White, and Laverne Cox—who “reﬂect the most pressing social
issues regarding bodies and inclusion: obesity, urban blackness, dis-
ability, Latino/a immigration, aging, and transgender identity” (24).
Through impressive research grounded in various media and cultural
studies, including but not limited to disability studies, ﬁlm theory,
feminist studies, critical race theory, and class studies, Meeuf reveals
the cultural ideologies that undergird the success of these seemingly
anomalous celebrities. In part, the media uses the presence of these
actors as self-congratulatory examples of its own dedication to diver-
sity and inclusivity: despite inhabiting identities that are historically
marginalized, these actors made it, and Hollywood welcomed them.
However, Meeuf discovers that the actors’ ﬁlm and television roles
often maintain the very stereotypes the entertainment industry and
The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 51, No. 3, 2018
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.