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Tilly’s Tummy

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I have watched countless hours of every series and am on my 4th full, start-to-finish, no skipsies, not even the Beverly effes a ghost episode or “Masks”, watch-though of TNG. I own not one, not two, not three, but four; Star Fleet uniform type cosplays (2 TOS, 1 mirror uni, 1 gender-swapped noir Picard (it’s fantastic and I wore it to meet Nichelle and it was one of the great days of my life, but I digress). Suffice to say I am a huge fan, Star Trek is comfort food and a warm blanket by the fire. It’s a hope for a future free from bigotry in this terrible, broken world.

Even so, in all my years of Trek, I have never in my life felt so SEEN as the day I beheld Tilly’s Tummy in all its glory.

Now, let’s be REAL FUCKING CLEAR; Mary Wiseman, who embodies Tilly on Star Trek: Discovery, the way many actors can only dream of, is a straight size lady. No matter what the incels might cry out, she is not fat, she’s an average lady (okay she freaking GORGEOUS), she’s just not supermodel thin. And honestly even having a slightly larger than a size 2 girl in a major studio telly show is a huge step forward for size equality, but Tilly gives us so much more than that. I don’t remember the exact episode but I know it’s season 2, midway to late in the season. There’s some action, some fast-talking, sciency science technobabble. Tilly is being her badass self, and then there is this shot from the side in her fitted but not too tight blue and gold Trek uniform.  AND THERE IT WAS. her curvy, adorable, perfect tummy. no Spanx (the amount of running and climbing pointless ladders that seem to be required by Star Fleet would make shapewear wildly impractical) no suck it in, no whoops you look like a real person in that shot, we have to make sure women everywhere feel like SHIT tomorrow so lets reshoot that from a different angle. nope. just a beautiful lady with an actual tummy doing her job exploring space like a boss.  At first, I thought that I must not have seen correctly – there was a trick of the light and I was having a hard mental health day and I just WANTED it to be there so bad but then THERE IT WAS AGAIN!!!!! A tummy! An actual this is what people look like, this is what I look like TUMMY!  and ladies and gentle-quarks, I burst into tears. (oh okay weirdo – it’s just a tummy, what’s the big effing deal?!?)

Many people (even many women) do not fully grasp what it is like to walk around this world and be constantly judged for your looks, to have employment, promotions, even housing or financial loans be dependent upon whether or not you are “attractive”, to only be treated with “respect” by men if they deem you f*ckable. (not respect asshole, but thats 3 posts and a novel for another day). This seemly small choice, to forgo the typical shapewear or film touch-ups on this beautiful tummy reminded me that you don’t have to achieve impossible beauty ideals to do good work in the world. It showed my daughter that women have better things to do than starve themselves for a flat stomach; like exploring space, defeating the bad guy, and saving the goddamn day. And in my hope for a Star Trek utopian future that I have held since I was 10, I believe this simple refusal to bow to diet culture might have planted a seed that will allow more women and girls to stand up and say, no more. I will not let the patriarchy win. The line must be drawn here. no further.