"The Chubby One:" Child Stars and Fatphobia
Last week, musician Ray Reyes passed away suddenly at age 51. He was best known as a member of Menudo from 1983-1985, at the height of the boy band's popularity worldwide. Reyes was also a member of Protecyo M and performed with former members of Menudo for multiple reunion tours.
During his days in Menudo, Reyes fell under a category not usually delegated in boy band camps. There's the popular one, the bad boy, but Reyes was the "chubby" one. Legend has it that the nickname was given to him by the band's management who placed Reyes on a diet as his weight fluctuated, which is common for a 13-year-old but practically against the law in the boy-band world. As Reyes got older and performed reunion tours with Lozada, Farrait, plus ex-Menudo members Charlie Rivera, Ricky Melendez and Miguel Cancel, he gained weight. The comments on social media from fans were harsh. Despite fans' criticism about Reyes' appearances, the reunion tours were successful. While young women with the slightest fame are forced to go under the public microscope from the public, it's rare when young men in the limelight go under the same scrutiny. But with the advent of social media, more people are comfortable commenting on another person's physical appearance without consequence, and Reyes was no exception. Look no further than recent comments about Zac Efron or Will Smith's respective physical changes. The public demands famous people from our youth to stay forever young, a demand that we can't do for ourselves. Even when celebrities try to fight the aging process with plastic surgery, the feedback from the public usually isn't kind. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. Reyes' legacy is his music, which brought joy to his fans who supported him no matter what. May we learn to be kinder to the idols of our youth, for they go through changes just like us.