Yes, Tinsel Town is officially out of touch with reality, now confirmed by Jennifer Lawrence’s new interview in which she says that “In Hollywood, I’m obese.”
Lawrence catapulted to stardom as the athletic action-hero, Katniss Everdeen, in the movie-adaptation of the novel The Hunger Games. Though she’s not one to gab about numbers on a scale, she is far from chubby, let alone obese. By any standard–except for the entertainment industry’s apparently–her body is strong, toned, and svelte.
Still, that didn’t stop critics from slamming her weight when the movie first came out. A March 2012 New York Times review of The Hunger Games, remarked that “Lawrence was too thick to convincingly play the part of a starving teen.” The Hollywood Reporter said her “lingering baby fat” made “the dystopian future where children are forced to engage in blood sport hard to believe.” And the blog Hollywood-Elsewhere felt that Lawrence “seems too big” for costar Josh Hutcherson, and that “she’s a fairly tall, big-boned lady.”
“It’s like a normal, healthy weight is the new “fat,” says Harvard psychologist Holly Parker. “This sets up an unrealistic, and arguably unhealthy new benchmark that leaves healthy young girls feeling bad about their bodies.”
Men, even top actors, get some static about their weight, but they don’t seem to be judged quite as harshly. The double standard is so extreme that research has found even men who are seated next to an obese woman are more negatively judged than men who are seated next to an average weight woman.
It hasn’t always been this way. Hollywood used to embrace more womanly actors like Marilyn Monroe, but on-screen women have gotten slimmer and slimmer until what we see on many movie and TV screens are the gaunt bodies and large heads Lawrence herself refers to in the interview as “lollipops.”
Parker invites girls and women to question what they are seeing in the media.
“I think they will find that when they compare these images against what the medical field would define as obese, they’ll see a big difference,” she said.
Having a blockbuster film and an Oscar nomination under her belt probably means Lawrence is going to have her choice of roles going forward, no matter what the weight critics say.
And luckily, she has no intention of taking the bait. “I’m never going to starve myself for a part… I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner’,” she told Elle. “I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong–not thin and underfed.”
Seems like she’s got her act together in terms of self-image. Let’s hope Hollywood can do the same.