Jennifer Lawrence Is Not As Flawless As You Think

Posted by on January 8, 2014

When listing body positive celebrities, most people are quick to include the popular Jennifer Lawrence among their list of faves. I have never had any sort of real issue with Jennifer Lawrence. I’ve enjoyed a lot of her movies (The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook were both excellent), she’s done some interesting and very down to Earth interviews, and her stumble on the Oscar stage last year was absolutely endearing.

However, there is a small part of me that does not quite understand the adoration with which JLaw is consistently met on the Internet. She has almost achieved cult-leader status on Tumblr with all of her .giffable (read as: gaffable) moments.

Most of my discomfort with her comes from how she talks about her body and dieting. Now, it’s not totally her fault. The media constantly asks female celebrities about their bodies, dieting habits, and exercise regimens, so female celebrities are often forced to talk about these issues on a regular basis in interviews. Jennifer Lawrence simply does not play ball. She likes eating and likes food and is comfortable talking about that in interviews.

Jennifer Lawrence

A popular JLaw .gif emphasizes her love of food.
Credit: via Jenny Trout

However, it’s important to remember that Jennifer Lawrence is a thin, attractive, healthy, 20-something white woman – she really is the ideal. For Hollywood standards, she might be one or two sizes above the average, but she is not even a little bit overweight.

Jenny Trout, a writer and blogger, perfectly laid out all of the complicated feelings I was having about JLaw in an amazing post she published on her personal blog “Sweaters For Days,” which was then picked up by the Huffington Post, about Jennifer Lawrence’s somewhat questionable role as a leader for the body positive revolution. In the post, called “Jennifer Lawrence body shames you more than you might have realized,” Trout aggregated several quotes that JLaw has made about eating and then posed the question to readers: what if these quotes were made by a woman who is actually fat, like Melissa McCarthy? Would you find them just as quirky or endearing or would you be quick to criticize them and lecture them about their health? I’m thinking it’s the latter.

Another JLaw gif about her appetite.
Credit: via Jenny Trout

Here are the quotes, organized by Trout:

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

“In Hollywood, I’m obese. I’m considered a fat actress, I’m Val Kilmer in that one picture on the beach.”– HuffPost

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

“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

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

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

In these quotes, JLaw manages to shame both thin and fat women alike. The message that she’s putting out there is that anyone thinner than her does not look “like a person” and anyone past the chubby stage does not deserve personhood either.

Trout  compares the treatment that Jennifer Lawrence gets to Melissa McCarthy and that comparison is truly upsetting. Jennifer Lawrence gets to talk about eating with such love and she gets to talk about how she hates dieting because she has the great, hourglass figure that women are told they should aspire to.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy on the cover of “The Hollywood Reporter” in September 2011
Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

Trout says it best in this illuminating prose from her post:

“Because Melissa McCarthy actually is a fat woman, she isn’t allowed to make brash statements about body acceptance. She has to apologize for her body.[...] But it’s all she’s allowed to say, in the confines of our culture. If Melissa McCarthy had said, “If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, ‘You can go f- yourself,” the response will most assuredly not be, “How brave! How strong! What a good role model!” The response will be, “What a bad example, encouraging people to be unhealthy! We have an obesity epidemic! Open your eyes, fat is not healthy, sexy, or acceptable! How very dare she!” Even the mild statements she has made about being comfortable with herself and her body are greeted with backlash from armchair internet physicians bleating about health and lifestyle choices.”

How do you feel about Jennifer Lawrence with Trout’s perspective in mind? Tell me in the comments.

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