Discrimination, the mistreatment of a person based on religion, race, or sexual orientation, has been deemed unacceptable by society. Movies, music and books galore exist based on this very idea, to judge a person by their beliefs, sexuality or physical appearance is a social more, right? Yet, discrimination abounds when it comes to women and weight.
Jennifer Lawrence, mega-star of The Hunger Games, has recently announced she will not bend to Hollywood’s pressures of being skinny. Taking her position as a role model seriously, she stated, “I don’t want little girls to be like, “Oh, I want to be like Katniss so I’m going to skip dinner.” The actress went on to state, “That’s something that I was really conscious of during training, when you’re trying to get your body to look just right. I want my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.”
While the nation embraces acceptance of every type of person, it has become commonplace to harass, point fingers and make fun of overweight people, especially women. The multi-billion dollar weight loss industry has opened the door to public ridicule of any woman who does not fit in the perfect Barbie-body mold.
Singer Karen Carpenter died trying to be perfect. Although genetically, she was not destine to be thin, pressures from an image-centric Hollywood forced Carpenter to take drastic measures. Dieting became an obsession, taking the singer down to an all time low of 80 pounds. In 1983, Carpenter was found dead of cardiac arrest due to the strain anorexia put on her heart.
Anna Nicole-Smith suffered for years trying to control her weight. Yo-yo diets, pills and prescription drugs, two of which were diet pills, overwhelmed her life and at age 39 she died of an accidental overdose.
Judy Garland, singer, dancer and actress extraordinaire was tormented by film executives insisting she thin down or she would loose roles. She began taking amphetamines by the handful, followed by barbiturates and alcohol to help her sleep. She was found dead at age 47 of an overdose.
Hollywood is not the only place people feel the pressure to be thin. Reported by the Mirror, Kylie Hortop, was bullied so badly by her peers that she cut the word, ‘fat’ into her stomach, starved herself until she became dangerously anorexic and tried to commit suicide by taking a handful of painkillers. Kylie has learned to accept herself and is much happier.
Not everyone has learned to move on from painful memories. The ongoing tabloid headlines making fun of actress who are over a size 2 just adds salt to the open wounds.
“I remember gym class; I have nightmares about it. The two teams captains talking about who would get stuck with the ‘cow’ and teasing me relentlessly about my weight. 30 years later, I still hate myself. I have no self-esteem. Everywhere I look, I’m constantly see headlines screaming to lose weight, be thin, have a perfect body,” stated a woman who wished to remain anonymous, “I want to rage at people, if society is expected to accept people for the way they are, why is it okay to constantly degrade people for their weight? TV shows, movies, magazines, everywhere you look, women are made to feel disgusted with themselves if they don’t fit into society’s idea of a perfect body. No one is perfect, but women are made to feel guilty if they aren’t. I feel I must loose weight, to do what society demands of me, in order to be loved but I’ve spent my life trying to be perfect and I don’t want to try anymore. I just want it all to end,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Many other actress have also announced they are done with the Hollywood pressures. Tyra Banks lashed out when People magazine ran the headline, “America’s Next Top Waddle.” “I made millions of dollars with this body and I still feel hot.” Banks stated during a People interview.
Adele, happy with her appearance, seethed when Jennifer Hudson suggested Weight Watchers to aid the singer in losing weight.
“I never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m proud of that.”
By Deborah Baran