Even though friends and family may not judge them for their weight, many women still associate being fat with “profound personal failing,” researchers for Arizona State University claim in a new study. This may explain why, in a recent interview, the actress Jennifer Hudson said that she was prouder of her weight loss than her Oscar.
Hudson, a Weight Watchers spokesperson, lost a significant amount of weight after coming to Hollywood. She won an Oscar early in her career for her magnificent performance in Dreamgirls, but apparently that accolade is nothing compared to the self-esteem she gained from looking traditionally beautiful — even though, if you ask me, she looked gorgeous back when she was a size 16.
The really tragic part of the story is that when Hudson came to Hollywood, she said she thought she was the “perfect size.” When she was asked by an interviewer on the red carpet what it was like to be “plus-size” in Hollywood, she was taken aback.
“I looked around, like, Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I’m plus-sized?” she said in a recent interview. “In the neighborhood I’m from in Chicago, a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out.”
Well, now she looks exactly the same too. And you have to wonder what horrible message her comments are sending to women everywhere, even if that’s not her intention. There’s a difference between exercising and eating well because it feels good and trying to conform to a particular standard of beauty, one that denies the attractiveness of women’s different shapes and sizes.
“If it isn’t the opinions of friends and family that make us feel so bad about being overweight, then what does?” asked ASU researcher Alexandra Brewis. ”What seems most likely is that media and pop cultural messages are so pervasive and powerful that even the most loving support of those closest to us provides only limited protection against them.”
Jennifer Hudson was beautiful before she lost weight, and she’s beautiful now too, but it’s a more conventional beauty. If she felt that she needed to lose weight for health, that’s one thing. But to tell her audiences that her proudest accomplishment was weight loss underscores the poisonous media culture that makes so many women despise their bodies, even if their friends and family think they’re beautiful.
Photo from guisse95 via flickr.