Is Jacob the Neville That Should Have Been?
Unrealistic body standards are unapologetically thrown upon men and women in the film industry. The Potter films missed a great opportunity to teach body positivity, but Fantastic Beasts seems to be picking up the slack through Jacob Kowalski. Jacob’s character isn’t just the comic relief in the film. He’s the heart of Fantastic Beasts. He’s able to win the girl of his dreams by simply being himself. The spectacular part of Jacob and Queenie Goldstein’s romance is the unquestioned love and attraction between them. Queenie never references his body type. She uses her mad Legilimency skills to explore his mind, and the love affair begins.
The emphasis of Jacob’s character is not on society’s perception of handsomeness but on his actions and natural attributes. Fantastic Beasts doesn’t use the “beauty within” trope that degrades a person’s worth by insulting their body. Sharply dressed, kind, and hilarious (not to mention a great baker), Jacob is a fantastic person inside and out. Despite one comment in the film (I’m looking at you, Tina), Jacob overcomes the stereotypes of the plus-size side character.
Plenty of people would want to marry such a man! Even if he is a Muggle. Queenie isn’t presented as out of his league, and she’s able to see the world through a progressive lens. They are both portrayed as equals and quite deserving of each other.
The term “Longbottomed” has become a common societal term regularly used to describe an incredible body transformation. Matthew Lewis’s portrayal of Neville is beloved by the Potter fandom, but is Neville’s dramatic physical transformation in the movies the true essence of his character? His brave evolution into a Carrow-resisting snake fighter is amazing, but the physical changes seem to have overshadowed his actions. I’m not saying that Matthew Lewis coming out of his shell isn’t an empowering reveal, but I prefer my version of Neville who is both brave and round-faced. Let’s hope that Dan Fogler doesn’t feel pressure to change. Perhaps he’ll be a new version of Neville who gives a new generation a voice and a positive role model.
Do you think Fantastic Beasts is promoting body positivity through Jacob? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!