School of Rock is mostly remembered as a fun Jack Black movie from the early aughts with a few kickass songs. But the internet is praising the movie as a pioneering force for the body positivity movement thanks to a subtle but resonant scene.
Some quick context before diving into the scene, in case you haven’t seen the 2003 movie in a bit (in which case, we strongly recommend a rewatch.)
Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck slacker who pretends to be his brother Ned in order to work as a substitute teacher at a fancy prep school. He ends up secretly starting a band when he realizes some of the students and musically gifted.
Tamika (played by Maryam Hassan) is one of the students recruited by Dewey for his band, revealing herself to be an amazing singer. But when it’s time to perform in front of a crowd for the first time, she tells him she’s afraid people will laugh at her because she’s fat. And this leads to Dewey dishing out some really great advice and encouragement to a preteen who is clearly struggling with body image issues.
“Tamika, you’ve got something everyone wants,” Dewey tells Tamika. “You’ve got talent, girl. You have an incredible singing voice and I’m not just saying that.”
He then points out that Aretha Franklin is a “big lady” but nobody focuses on that because of her mind-blowing talent as a singer. And he even opens up about his own weight issues.
“But once I get up on stage, start doing my thing, people worship me,” Dewey explains. “Because I’m sexy and chubby.”
Tamika asks Dewey why he doesn’t go on a diet and he offers a simple but powerful explanation.
“Because I like to eat,” he says. “Is that such a crime?”
This scene is more revolutionary than I think they even knew and it really stuck with me as a child. Especially the last line. pic.twitter.com/KkhvGicjVZ
— ✨hamish steele✨ (@hamishsteele) April 18, 2021
It’s a heartwarmingly wholesome scene that many of us have seen but likely forgotten. However, it ended up finding new life on Twitter, as animation director and illustrator Hamish Steele shared the clip, noting how he did not realize how much it stuck with him when he watched School of Rock as a kid.
The clip quickly went viral, racking up almost 10 million views. Countless users who had negative body image issues growing up said that seeing a character reject the need to adhere to strict, outdated notions of what constitutes a “healthy” body helped them on their journey towards self-love. And considering how dangerous fat-shaming children can be for their long-term mental and physical health, Black’s character does a great job helping Tamika set aside her shame and feel confident in herself as a singer and, more importantly, as a human being.