Unless you are living under a rock (or don’t own a TV, computer, or read any magazines, newspapers, or blogs) then you must have heard this week’s breaking news:
Jessica Simpson is FAT!
This is obviously trivial news, trust me I know, but it speaks loads about the our society’s obsession with body image and for me fueled my disgust of the warped definition of what it means to be beautiful in Hollywood: Being thin, thinner, and thinnest!
It’s no surprise that the news of Jessica’s weight gain made headlines. We have become so conditioned to judge and critique women’s bodies, especially celebrities, that we expect people to write and talk about it. There is even a blog–the Skinny Website–that is dedicated to solely discussing celebrity weight, diets, body, and exercise. The website is page after page of celebrity pictures and captions like:
- “Not everybody could get away with wearing those tiny shorts … Apparently all of those recent gym visits are paying off…” (On Amanda Bynes)
- “…and what day would be complete without photos of skinny Nicky Hilton in short shorts?”
- “…it doesn’t seem like she’s lost all of the baby weight yet!” (On Gwen Stefani)
And that’s not all. After a quick search I also stumbled upon the Celebrity Body Gossip, Skinny vs. Curvy, and the Celebrity Diet Doctor, which is run by an actual doctor that likes to, um, weigh in on “the good, the bad, and the ugly” behind Hollywood’s body battles.
This obsession with examining celebrities’ bodies is epic and so dangerous because we measure celebrities against impossible standards and then measure ourselves against the celebrities. Lose-lose.
The media explosion that ensued after pictures of a “fuller-figured” Jessica Simpson surfaced was so far-reaching it bumped President Obama and his family off the cover of Us Weekly (granted it was Us Weekly, but come on!)! The news was also covered by NBC’s Today Show, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fox News, Chicago Tribune.
Let’s get something straight though–Jessica Simpson is not fat!
Look at the facts:
- The average American woman is 5’4″, weighs 140 lbs, and wears a size 14 dress.
- One-third of all American women wear a size 16 or larger.
Jessica is a size 8 (some report 12, but that’s not fat either!). But by Hollywood standards this is unacceptable. Ask fellow singers Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera . They each received criticism for their weight gain and were promptly congratulated after slimming down.
It would appear, however, that this pressure to be thin only applies to women. When the men start packing on the pounds it’s a non-issue and reporters find other news to print. Vince Vaughn, Matt Damon, and Russell Crowe all flew under the radar when they recently gained weight.
Why is it that we are more forgiving of men and their bodies but the same is not true for women?
Body perfection is expected of women so much so that the slightest gain is cause for a media storm of criticism. With the ever-expanding possibilities of the internet the critics are endless and impact so widespread.
It’s a good thing Jessica isn’t fixating on the negative attention the media is hurling at her (no press is bad press, right?). Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time before the media finds its next weight gain victim.
Photo by John VanderHaagen used under a Creative Commons license.