'Bridgerton' Fan Says 'Mixed-Weight Relationships Are Fine As Long As The Woman Isn't The Fat One'

It's time to put to rest all of the body-shaming comments directed towards Nicola Coughlan.

Nicola Coughlan lev radin | Shutterstock

It's been almost two months since season 3 of "Bridgerton" debuted, and fans still absolutely love Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington's epic and heartfelt love story, played by Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan, respectively.

However, despite the season making a huge splash, especially on social media, it seems people are still discussing Coughlan's weight and appearance as the main love interest and protagonist of the season.


A recent article published about 'mixed-weight relationships' in regards to Nicola Coughlan's role in 'Bridgerton' drew backlash.

A Forbes article published about the Netflix series, written by activist Virgie Tovar, has caused a bit of a stir by referring to Newton and Coughlan's on-screen romance as "mixed-weight," putting the focus on Coughlan's body type in a way that has come across as both misogynistic and fatphobic.

Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton smiling at each other on the red carpet Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock


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Tovar's article was in direct response to another piece penned by Zoe Strimpel for The Spectator, "Bridgerton’s Big Fantasy." In this piece, Strimpel boldly declared that Coughlan is "not hot" and proceeded to spend the majority of the article fat-shaming her. 

Strimpel even wrote at one point, "Coughlan is an actress of great value and might be adored, but she is simply not plausible as the friend who would catch the handsome rich aristocrat Colin Bridgerton’s eye in that way."

This type of backlash against Coughlan isn't new; in fact, since Season 3 was announced, with a focus on Penelope and Colin, think pieces started appearing on social media about how "trash" the season was probably going to be. The problem was, to back up that claim, people would double down and try to argue that Coughlan just wasn't "leading lady" material, which is just wrong considering she's been one of the main characters outside of the Bridgerton family since Season 1.


Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton on the red carpet Fred Duval / Shutterstock

To defend Coughlan, Tovar used the term "mixed-weight" relationship to describe Penelope and Colin's story and acknowledged the problematic discussion the characters' romance has spurred. "For some, this romance is unsettling because it forces them to consider that humans are simply not governed by tidy, predictable rules."

Tovar continued: "If this romance upsets you, it says more about how deeply you’ve internalized fatphobia than it says about the bodies of the actors playing Penelope and Colin."


There certainly is validity to this argument, especially considering that these conversations only seem to happen whenever a fat woman appears on screen for a popular television show or movie. This hatred for any woman who isn't stick-thin has burrowed itself deep into our culture that we can't even acknowledge that Coughlan is incredibly beautiful and a talented actress. But for some reason, with her role in "Bridgerton," which focuses mainly on romance, a fat woman just can't seem to get a happy ending in the same way that thin women are allowed to.

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Coughlan has previously spoken out against the body-shaming comments she's received from being on 'Bridgerton.'

According to Variety, in early June 2024, Coughlan shut down body-shaming claims that Netflix had photoshopped her waist to appear skinnier in "Bridgerton."

"If you wear corsetry for long enough, your body really molds to it,” Coughlan told People in response to the claims. "Sometimes they come in a fitting for a fashion designer, and they put a corset on me, and I’m like, 'Oh, you can go tight,' and they go, 'What do you mean?' I’m like, 'My body now will go whew.'"

@thenewsmovement Nicola Coughlan had the PERFECT response after being called ‘brave’ for her role in the latest season of Bridgerton at a screening event in Dublin 👑👑👑 #nicolacoughlan #polin #penelopefeatherington #bridgerton #bridgertonseason3 #bridgertons3 #lifeandstyle ♬ original sound - The News Movement

During an interview published by Stylist, Coughlan revealed that she asked to be "very naked on camera" for a particular scene in Season 3 as a way to prove that she feels nothing but confidence in her skin, especially in front of the camera and viewers.

"It just felt like the biggest '[expletive] you' to all the conversation surrounding my body; it was amazingly empowering," she explained. "I felt beautiful in the moment, and I thought: 'When I’m 80, I want to look back on this and remember how [expletive] hot I looked!'"

It seems a 'mixed-weight' relationship only works if the woman isn't the fat one in the equation.

In a TikTok video responding to both the Forbes article and The Spectator's article, a content creator named Brigette brought up the fascinating point that many on-screen romances with fat men aren't given nearly the same amount of criticism and opinions compared to a woman being the fat one in a romance. 


Brigette pointed out how we've all grown up seeing characters of different sizes date each other or be married, from "Fresh Prince" and "Family Guy" to "King of Queens." However, for Coughlan in "Bridgerton," that seems to be where people draw the line. 

On top of that, the term "mixed-weight" relationship shouldn't be used at all and should be retired from the dictionary.

"It's never once questioned when the man is the bigger party, but all of a sudden, we need think pieces because this time is reversed. It's so disappointing to know that after all the work they put into Season 3, that the focus isn't on their craft or their talent, but instead, the entire focus is on her body," Brigette pointed out.


It's no secret that fat people are often regarded without a second thought in movies and TV shows. They are only relegated to comedies and the "comedic side character" secondary to the conventionally attractive main character. It's exhausting that people hold such fatphobic beliefs when it comes to plus-size people finding love in your typical romance movie or show. 

I think it's time we retire this old-fashioned and outdated notion that fat people need to exist in a certain way on our screens. Nicola Coughlan brought the most beautiful love story to life during the third season of "Bridgerton," and we should be focusing on that and not trying to discount her talent just because she doesn't fit the mold of what "beauty" looks like. 

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.