Now here’s a turn up for the books. Angelina Jolie is rumoured to have been not asked, but ORDERED by studio bosses to put on almost 13kg (30 pounds) to play opposite Pierce Brosnan in the upcoming sequal to The Thomas Crown Affair, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday (SMH) and Fox News last Friday (FOXNews).
As an actress, I find this news almost unbelievable, especially when it’s Hollywood bosses making the request, but I find a part of myself holding onto the (I will admit) desperate hope that it just might be true.
Not that I necessarily think Angelina is currently too thin (despite the photo to the left, which was taken a while ago now). She may be, but then she’s no more so than just about every other actress who works in Hollywood and, more increasingly, the UK and Australia. Angelina herself isn’t the story here (well, not for me).
No, for me, the story is that maybe, just maybe, some recently enlightened souls residing on the planet known as LA LA Land might actually have finally realized that people (read that as women) are putting their health on the line to have a successful career in this industry. And it’s time that stopped.
All actresses, wherever they are based, face the pressure to be thin. It’s that damn “the camera adds 10 pounds” problem. In a day and age of so many technological breakthroughs, surely someone could invent a camera that doesn’t do that. Or, better still – takes some pounds off. But I digress …
Any actress will tell you that sometime in their career (unless they got with the program and stopped eating when they were 12) have faced the situation of not being cast or even auditioned because they’re not thin enough. I’m not saying that this is the only reason, or that every director and producer thinks this way, but increasingly it’s a factor in who gets cast. Particularly in lead roles.
I’m also not saying that we should all be overweight, but it would be nice to think that we could be a “normal” size, whatever that is for us. I mean, what other industry expects it’s people to drop weight so much that it could endanger their health?
I hate dieting. I REALLY hate it. And, strange as it may sound for the daughter of an Olympian and World Masters Champion, I also really hate exercise. So maybe it’s a good thing that I have to do both for my career, as it means I’m forced into leading a relatively healthy lifestyle. But what about those women and girls who take it too far? Who get caught up in the “you’re never too thin” mentality? Who, basically, self-abuse and get sick because of the pressure to succeed in their chosen career path?
And it’s not just actresses and models who face this. Women everywhere are judged on their weight and objectified. And with celebrity worship hitting all time highs, kids are also getting caught up in the “get thin” mentality. Kids as young as 6 are dieting, when they don’t need to. I’m not talking about those kids who are sadly overweight and need to cut back on the chips and chocolate. I’m talking about kids who are exactly the right size for their age, height and build but talk about being “fat”. And then take unhealthy steps to ensure they’re not.
That scares me.
I have two beautiful nieces. One’s seven, the other is two. They are gorgeous girls. They are healthy and eat properly. Yet, despite being surrounded on the whole by sensible adults, I worry for them. We can’t always control what they see on television. Or what their friends tell them. Or, as they get older, what they read in magazines or see on the Internet. And we especially can’t control what society as a whole teaches them. We can only do what we can to make them feel loved and perfect just the way they are.
And I worry that may not be enough.
As members of the Western world and practitioners in this crazy world called “Showbiz”, we have a responsibility to promote healthy images for our kids. We need to have role models who aren’t sticks, surviving on celery sticks and water, but rather women who are healthy and comfortable in their own skin. We need to stop publishing stories about how awful it is that “insert name of any female celebrity here” is putting on weight. We need to get real about what a “real” woman looks like. And we need to see that on our screens and in our advertising.
Certain companies have started to use this idea already in their ad campaigns. The most prominent is the Dove series of commercials who use ‘real’ women as their hook. And I commend them for it. What I’d like, is to live in a time where it is so common to use ‘real’ women when promoting a brand that it’s no longer an effective advertising hook to do so.
I’m all for people being the weight they should be. Some people may be naturally a size 8 (size 6 in the US). Some may be naturally smaller. Some are most certainly going to be bigger. The point is that not everyone is Twiggy. And we shouldn’t be expected to be so. No matter what we do for a living.