I’m not what you’d call a ‘fat girl’. But I flick through TV and gawk at women with teeny waists and flat stomachs, wishing I could have a body like that. And no matter what channel you switch it too, what streaming service you use, whether you’re a sci-fi or comedy fan – there’s no escaping Hollywood’s obsession with unrealistic body standards.
Before her breakthrough role in Friends, Jennifer Aniston was told to lose 30lbs if she ever wanted to ‘make it in Hollywood.’ Already considered an ideal body image, she took it as a chance to improve her health. But the actress later described the ordeal as ‘the disgusting thing of Hollywood’.
Of course, you could blame it on the 90s. But things haven’t changed…
Actresses today are still being told to lose weight for roles. After writing her film, Trainwreck. Amy Schumer was told to lose weight if she expected to star in it. The actress was told ‘women weighing over 140lbs in film will hurt people’s eyes.’
So, what the hell is Hollywood’s problem with plus-size women?
We rarely catch a glimpse at various body shapes on screen. But when we do, the character’s story is based primarily on their weight. Think, Chrissy Metz from This Is Us. From a young age, her storyline has focused on her weight. Her mother’s frustration over her eating habits to school bullies. As she grows older, the drama focuses on whether she’ll be able to successfully carry a child because of her weight. Or maybe Danielle Macdonald as the plus-size teenager in Dumplin. The body positive film that protests against beauty standards still comments of an unhealthy weight.
But what exactly is an ‘unhealthy weight’? According to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, being overweight doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy. Plus-size people are less likely to have high cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar levels than those considered an ‘ideal weight’. The fear of heart attacks and strokes directed at overweight people is nothing more than a marketing scheme for fitness industries. Just because someone is bigger on the outside does not make them any unhealthier inside.
So, when will we see a film that features a plus-size actor that doesn’t centre on their weight?
The body positivity movement is working to represent different body shapes across media platforms. Diet supplements and celebrity sponsorships for ‘quick-fix’ products have officially been banned on social media. The influence of celebrities has pressured people to achieve an unrealistic figure. A range of mental and physical health problems resorted to Instagram to ban promotional content.
But will this even make a difference?
Celebrities are demanded to lose weight. They are not only criticised by filmmakers but by the public on their body. With comments about their appearance, saying they’ve either put on weight or lost too much. Society keeps telling them to be skinny to fit into the ‘ideal beauty standard’. They can’t escape the cycle.
Can you blame them for using editing apps to make them look skinnier?
It’s a never ending cycle that won’t change until Hollywood recognises that plus-size is positive. There is no good reason to demand an actress to lose weight for a role. Or to pass on an overweight woman. Storylines do not need to romanticise a fat girl getting the guy of her dreams. If it was ever an issue that she was overweight that stopped them being together in the first place – he obviously was never the man of her dreams. Social stigma can only change if all media platforms represent body positivity.