The Problem with Jennifer Lawrence’s Body Positivism Talk

It has always struck me that Jennifer Lawrence advocates for chubby women while being so thin herself. In many ways, she is actually a good representative of Hollywood norms; she is a fit, attractive, curvy woman in her twenties. While she might be a size or two above the Hollywood ideal, I cannot believe her when she says she looks chubby on-screen. Anyone that can pull off a unitard, like the wet-suit she wore throughout Catching Fire, has to have a good balance between thin and curvy.

Realistically, I think we all realize she is not the “obese” actress she claims to be. Sure there are plenty of celebrities who are thinner than her, but, as I demonstrated in an earlier post, there is more body diversity in Hollywood than ever before. Women are both thinner and bigger than the old standards of beauty – and I think that’s a really beautiful thing. There are women who are obese in Hollywood, and JLaw is not one of them. Instead, think Melissa McCarthey.

Both Melissa McCarthey and Jennifer Lawrence talk about their weight, but they do it in such different ways. While Jennifer Lawrence has ample quotes talking about how much she eats and how she hates exercising, Melissa McCarthey’s are almost apologetic. Some of the things she has said include:

“I don’t know why I’m not thinner than I am. I don’t really drink soda; I don’t have a sweet tooth, and we eat healthfully at home. We’re all weird for broccoli and pureed-vegetable soup, which we almost always have a big pot of in the fridge — it’s so good!” –Fox News

“I just don’t lose weight easily.” — People.com

“Sometimes I wish I were just magically a size 6 and I never had to give it a single thought.”– Us Magazine

Although I don’t think anyone should have to explain their body, I do think Melissa McCarthey’s words are really important for increasing body positivism. Many people don’t understand that there is a natural variety of sizes regardless of lifestyle – a fact that gets lost in many of Jennifer Lawrence’s quotes.

“I eat like a caveman. I’ll be the only actress that doesn’t have anorexia rumors.” —Entertainment Weekly

“I’d rather look chubby on-screen and like a person in real life.” — Mirror

“If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, ‘You can go f- yourself.” — The Gaurdian

“What are you gonna do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That’s just dumb.”– The Daily Mail

“I’m never going to starve myself for a part. I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner!’ […]I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.” — Entertainment Weekly

I have two main problems with these quotes. First, they imply that you have to have a certain BMI to be a “real” person. There are plenty of girls that are naturally very thin. They fact that they don’t find a way to make themselves bigger or curvier does not make them any less of people. “A person’s a person, no matter how small” or  big that person is (Dr. Seuss).

Second, she perpetuates the common myth of Hollywood actresses that they are somehow genetically superior and defy the rules of nature. Although she is constantly emphasizing how much she eats and how nothing can motivate her to exercise, she intends for girls to use her as role model for being fit and strong. This contrast in how she represents herself as a role model would, in my opinion, make it very difficult for girl to develop good self-esteem and look up to her at the same time.

Instead, I would argue that Kate Winslet is a better person to inspire body positivism in all women. Her quotes focus on her own acceptance of herself as opposed to the comparing herself to other celebrities. She is happy as is and is fine with other women loving their bodies as well. One of my favorite moments in body positivism came in response to a very edited image of Kate Winslet on the cover of GQ:

“The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly I don’t desire to look like that,” she said. “I actually have a Polaroid that the photographer gave me on the day of the shoot… I can tell you they’ve reduced the size of my legs by about a third. For my money it looks pretty good the way it was taken.”

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