It’s sad to say that in this day and age, body-shaming is alive and well. Online and IRL trolls are making themselves known by body-shaming everyone from A-list actors to influencer moms, to even Girl Scouts(?!). Some comments are from mean trolls, others are from well-meaning trolls, (often spewing condescending comments or “constructive criticism” under the guise of health concerns). Thankfully, some celebs are speaking up and adding momentum to the centuries long fight against body-shaming.
Like it or not, celebrities have power. Not only do they have a platform to use their voice and educate the general public, but because of our society’s idolization and glorification of them, celebs have the potential to cause cultural shifts. And whether it be a gentle reminder or an epic clap back, these celebs are requesting a hard stop on criticizing other people’s bodies.
“I’m a body icon.”
Lizzo has been on the frontlines of the body-acceptance movement for years. Whether it’s through her music, collaborations, or social media accounts, Lizzo is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to advocating for bigger bodies.
“I think I have a really hot body! I’m a body icon, and I’m embracing that more and more every day,” Lizzo said in a recent interview with People magazine about her body journey. “It may not be one person’s ideal body type just like, say, Kim Kardashian might not be someone’s ideal, but she’s a body icon and has created a modern-day beauty standard. And what I’m doing is stepping into my confidence and my power to create my own beauty standard. And one day that will just be the standard.”
And her response to people constantly talking about her weight?
“Okay, we all know I’m fat,” she sighed. “I know I’m fat. It doesn’t bother me. I like being fat, and I’m beautiful and I’m healthy. So can we move on?”
Yes. Yes we can.
“Skinny does not always equal healthy.”
Earlier this year, Yellowjackets star Melanie Lynskey revealed her experiences with body-shaming since the hit Showtime series came out.
Lynskey quote-tweeted author Ashley C. Ford’s (now deleted) tweet–which originally read: “It’s wild how confused people in the Midwest seem to be that I’m not thin and also not trying to lose weight. Folks act genuinely confounded that I’m not calorie counting, avoiding carbs, or even just hating myself out loud. But…how could I hate someone as sexy as I am?”
Lynskey then added her frustration by sharing her experience with the public:
“The story of my life since Yellowjackets premiered. Most egregious are the ‘I care about her health!!’ people…bitch you don’t see me on my Peleton! You don’t see me running through the park with my child. Skinny does not always equal healthy.”
The story of my life since Yellowjackets premiered. Most egregious are the “I care about her health!!” people…bitch you don’t see me on my Peleton! You don’t see me running through the park with my child. Skinny does not always equal healthy https://t.co/W2poMmsv1p
— Melanie Lynskey (@melanielynskey) January 29, 2022
When the Twitter trolls came a-knockin’, Lynskey’s husband Jason Ritter came to her defense and offered a wise suggestion to body-shamers everywhere. “If anyone has any further unsolicited comments about *anybody* else’s body, they can feel free to write them in permanent ink onto their own foreheads and swan dive directly into the sun,” Ritter tweeted.
If anyone has any further unsolicited comments about *anybody* else’s body, they can feel free to write them in permanent ink onto their own foreheads and swan dive directly into the sun https://t.co/5UyaHmR4JS
— Jason Ritter ? (@JasonRitter) January 29, 2022
Earlier this year in an interview with Rolling Stone, Lynskey shared another encounter with a body-shamer, but this time it was coming from a member of the Yellowjackets production staff suggesting she should lose weight.
“They were asking me, ‘What do you plan to do?’” Lynskey said. “‘I’m sure the producers will get you a trainer. They’d love to help you with this.’”
Her three co-stars, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, and Tawny Cypress defended Lynskey, and Lewis penned a letter confronting the Yellowjackets producers. Well done, squad.
“I am just one real life human being and it’s really hard.”
“Hello! So just a thing- if you have an opinion about my body please, please don’t share it with me. Most people are being nice and not trying to be offensive but I am just one real life human being and it’s really hard to take the weight of thousands of opinions on how you look being sent directly to you every day. If you have an opinion about me that’s ok, I understand I’m on TV and that people will have things to think and say but I beg you not to send it to me directly ❤️”
Note how Coughlan isn’t asking the public to not have judgments about her body, but simply requesting people to stop bringing said judgments to her front door. Instead of focusing on her body, how about we start focusing on her brilliant work?
Just last year, Coughlan called out the toxic behaviors of the press in a series of tweets. “Can we please stop asking women about their weight in interviews, especially when it’s completely irrelevant,” she tweeted.
“Every time I’m asked about my body in an interview it makes me deeply uncomfortable and so sad I’m not just allowed to just talk about the job I do that I so love,” Coughlan said. “It’s so reductive to women when we’re making great strides for diversity in the arts, but questions like that just pull us backwards.”
It’s so reductive to women when we’re making great strides for diversity in the arts, but questions like that just pull us backwards
— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) March 1, 2021
She finished the Twitter thread with, “So yeah, it’s 2021 it would be nice if we didn’t have to keep having this conversation. I would really love to never be asked about it in an interview again, also I have so many other things I love to talk about, I’m Irish so I can talk till the cows come home.”
It’s 2022 now, and we are still having this conversation. Sigh.
“It’s not radical for me to be wearing a crop top.”
Model/actor Barbie Ferreira, known for her role of Kat Hernandez on HBO’s Euphoria, recently brought up her frustrations with the back-handed compliments she gets on her body, and the more toxic side of the body-positivity movement.
“I think bigger bodies are not as ‘trendy’ as they used to be, which is really sad to me,” Ferreira said in an interview with Who What Wear. “We all struggle with self-love, and I don’t think any young person has really figured it out yet.” She continued, “It’s so funny that people just assume that [I love myself]. What — did I say that? I never said that. You guys just say that. You posted that on me.”
Many fat-shamers argue that merely existing in a fat body promotes obesity. This sort of toxic, black and white thinking is also ripe within the body-positive movement, where there is an assumption that if you exist in a bigger body you’re promoting radical self-acceptance. Correction: existing in a body doesn’t promote anything–nobody is selling you anything by breathing. If someone exists in a bigger body, it doesn’t mean they are an ambassador for confidence and “self love,” and assuming so disregards the constant barrage of bullying and shame people with bigger bodies often deal with.
In an article about body neutrality on verywellhealth.com, it’s emphasized that “while there’s certainly nothing wrong with body love… Body positivity implies unconditional acceptance without room for any other experience of the body.” We all exist in a society that has impossible beauty and body standards, loving yourself despite that can be a challenging journey.
“It’s not radical for me to be wearing a crop top,” Ferreira states. “[Comments like those are] just backhanded compliments. I’ve been doing this since I was 16. I’m 25.”
“’Ma’am, I am one of the most famous plus-size models in the world; I think I’m doing okay.'”
Model Tess Holliday took to Instagram earlier this year to recount a body-shaming experience she had in a doctor’s office waiting room with a “concerned citizen” who made insufferable comments about Holliday’s body.
“She says, ‘You are so pretty. You have a beautiful face and you have beautiful hair.’ And I mean, I look like this, and my face is covered, but I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you!’ ” Holliday said. “But she couldn’t just leave it there, she then proceeded to tell me, ‘Why don’t you just lose a little bit of weight?’ “
Holliday went on to say that this “happens often” and she is used to people telling her to lose weight, but she generally doesn’t give them the time of day.
“Usually when someone says something like that to me, because I have deeply seeded trauma and people pleasing tendencies, I usually say something to kind of placate their diet talk to make them feel a little bit better, I’m usually like, ‘Well you know I work out,’ [or] whatever,” she said.
During this particular encounter, though, Holliday decided to clap back.
“I looked at her, took a breath and I said, and I still can’t believe I said this — look at me smiling, I’m so proud of myself — I looked at her and I said, ‘Ma’am, I am one of the most famous plus-size models in the world; I think I’m doing okay.’ “
At first the woman was surprised by Holliday’s response, but after a beat, the woman continued with her condescending comments.
“Then she goes: ‘You know, I just stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore.’ And I just said, ‘Bodies are weird.’ And then I looked at my phone and God bless, I hear Terry the nurse say my name, and I was like, ‘Bye!’”
Phew, saved by the bell (Terry)—a round of applause for our essential care workers, for more reasons than one.
“I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of myself for standing up for myself even though she will never get it, and there was no reason for me to like, explain myself in that situation,” Holliday continued. “But I’m f***ing proud of myself.”
“I don’t often give myself enough credit, & my energy this year is very much to cut that sh*t out,” Holliday wrote in her Insta caption. “Going to the doctor & dealing with someone body shaming me was apparently my tipping point lol, not sorry.”
“Take the jokes about weight out of your scripts. I promise they aren’t funny.”
Emmy-nominated actress Allison Tolman, known for her roles in Fargo and Why Women Kill, took to Twitter earlier this year to call an end to body-shaming jokes in scripts.
“Writers and showrunners- take the jokes about weight out of your scripts. I promise they aren’t funny. And even if they were, they won’t hold up well. And even if they did, they’re unkind—either to your characters and actors or someone in your audience or crew. It’s not worth it.”
Writers and showrunners- take the jokes about weight out of your scripts. I promise they aren’t funny. And even if they were, they won’t hold up well. And even if they did, they’re unkind-either to your characters and actors or someone in your audience or crew. It’s not worth it.
— Allison Tolman (@Allison_Tolman) January 18, 2022
Tolman clarified that the “jokes” she is referring to aren’t exclusive to ones about the character’s body. She continues calling out the subtler ways body-shaming slips into scripts. “They can also include making mention of: the numbers on a scale, what someone eats, what size their clothing is, and exercise and movement.”
In an act of bad-assery Tolman furthered her call to arms by urging to remove harmful body labels if not necessary. “And when you’re ready, begin to wrap your mind around removing body descriptors from your scripts altogether, including character descriptions and the names of minor roles.” She explains, “I’m not saying you shouldn’t use adjectives. But please don’t say ‘Linda – the main character’s cousin, thin and witty’ unless there’s an actual reason Linda needs to be thin. And please don’t say ‘Fat Lady In Theater’ when you mean ‘Annoying Lady In Theater’.”
The actor added, “Oh! And also, people think it’s okay if they’re using descriptors for small bodies, because they’re considered complimentary. Like, you’re auditioning for ‘Skinny Intern’ congratulations! But do you see THAT IS THE EXACT POINT AND SURELY YOU UNDERSTAND HOW WEIRD THAT IS… The audience only knows the values you assign to different body types if you have characters saying lines about them. But the rest of your script? That’s your crew, writers room, everyone in the office, executives, creative partners— all the people helping you make your show.”
When it is already so hard to get audiences to not comment on actor’s bodies, it seems the least we can do is set a boundary for body-shaming within the industry.
When one Twitter user applauded HBO’s Somebody Somewhere for not commenting on the weight of the main character, played by Bridget Everett, Tolman replied, “She’s one of the EP’s, makes a big difference.”
She’s one of the EP’s, makes a big difference.
— Allison Tolman (@Allison_Tolman) January 18, 2022
“Damn. I think I look good”
Actor Alicia Silverstone, best known for her role Cher Horowitz from the classic ’90s movie Clueless, took to TikTok to fire off a middle finger at an internet troll that body-shamed her. When Silverstone stumbled upon a candid photo of herself on social media captioned, “Alicia Silverstone Candid Fat Photo”, she made a video calling it out. With GAYLE’s hit track “abcdefu” underscoring–Silverstone shared a screenshot of the photo and accompanying caption and she threw up a big ol’ f-u-finger and a Cheshire cat smile. She captioned the TikTok video with: “Damn. I think I look good ???♀️.”
@aliciasilverstone Damn. I think I look good ???♀️ #abcdefu ♬ abcdefu – GAYLE
This isn’t the first time the Baby-Sitter’s Club actress called out her experiences with body-shaming. In an interview with The Guardian back in 2020, Silverstone said while coming up as an actor in the nineties, she received plenty of negative criticism and nasty comments about her body. For instance, when she played the role of Batgirl in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin, tabloids called her “Fatgirl” and she was even chased through airports by journalists and paparazzi chanting “Fat girl…fat girl” to the Batman theme song.
“They would make fun of my body when I was younger,” she said. “It was hurtful but I knew they were wrong. I wasn’t confused. I knew that it was not right to make fun of someone’s body shape, that doesn’t seem like the right thing to be doing to a human.”
Silverstone continued to share horrific comments journalists made to her, like asking her what her bra size was during an interview, but she said she tried her best to learn from it.
“There were working circumstances that were less than favorable in terms of how things went down,” she said. “And no, I didn’t say ‘f*** you’ and come out like a warrior but I would just walk away and go, OK I know what that is and I’m done, I’m not going near that again.”
She may not have said f*** you back then, but with that TikTok video she just posted, it seems like Silverstone may be stepping into her inner-warrior.
Photo credits, in order of appearance:
Header Lizzo photo by Lauren Perlstein
Nicola Coughlan photo screenshot from YouTube
Barbie Ferreira photo screenshot from YouTube
Tess Holliday photo screenshot from YouTube