Jemima Kirke’s No-Bullshit Approach to Body Image and Fitness

by Alice Lawton

Like most of us, Jemima Kirke, of Girls fame, has had her fair shares of struggles with body image. She may be on a TV show where characters are known for getting naked, but that’s not where her body concerns began: In an interview with Kelsey Miller of The Anti-Diet Project in Refinery29, she talked about her struggles with body image and self-acceptance.

Kirke recalls, “‘My mom used to say to me, ‘I think you’re beautiful. I think you’re perfect. I just want you to be happy.'” … “That’s such a mixed message, though…even though she was saying she wanted me to be happy, it still came off as bullying.’” Her mother was supportive—but still encouraged Kirke to go on diets to make her “happier.” Ultimately, it wasn’t the most conducive environment to creating a fantastic body image. 

So much pressure is put on girls from a very young age to be “thin.” To grow into adults who are happy with their bodies, women have to really fight against those stresses. Kirke now faces the issue with her own daughter: Writes Refinery29, “Like most moms, Kirke knows there’s no avoiding the pitfalls. Her daughter is four years old, still mercifully free of the body-image trap, but Jemima knows its day will come — and just hopes that she’ll be ready.”

It was through Cadence Dubus, owner of Brooklyn Strength, that Kirke managed to find a way to exercise without getting too critical. Kirke says, “‘The first thing I noticed about Cadence was her body. I was like, Oh, she’s not skinny, but she looks so sexy, and she’s so fit.” Cadence wasn’t the whittled-down, whip-cracking concept of a trainer that Jemima was used to, but her physical capability was undeniable. “I was like, maybe I can do THAT.” She gestures to herself. “Maybe I can just be the fittest version of this.”’ Dubus helped Kirke realize that exercise was less about appearance, and more about taking care of your physical and mental health. 

Kirke continues to work on loving herself and loving others. “‘This sounds so cheesy, but it’s true. I try to look at myself as if I were a man who was really hot for me. I’ll see all the things that make me me, and [I’m] like, that’s hot.” Later, she adds, “That’s how I look at other women. I look at them like, If I was in love with this person, I would love every bit. And, I tell my friends. I’m not doing it to make them feel good. I really mean it.’”

We can all take a page from Kirke’s book, and think about the unconditional adoration we feel for the people we love. And then we can try to treat ourselves that way: with acceptance and appreciation.


Girls Actress Jemima Kirke Shares Her Abortion Story In This Powerful Video

The ‘Girls’ Girls On Work, Lady Love, And How Life Has Changed For Them All

9 Body Positive Blogs That Prove “Beauty” Has No Bounds

Image courtesy of Frances Tulk-Hart via Refinery29

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.