Weight loss in Hollywood: Dedicated actress or false image?


“The Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence might not be the standard measurements of today’s female celebrities, but she gets a lot of respect from fans for staying true to her figure.

With recent celebrity statements on their weight and how it fits into playing different roles, Hollywood has reopened the age-old discussion regarding female celebrities’ weight — who should lose weight and who’s lost too much. While some critics feel weight is essential to a movie character, some fans give credit to celebrities who refuse to follow the dieting trends.

When “The Hunger Games” was released, a number of critics were unhappy with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, saying that she was a “big-boned” girl and didn’t look hungry enough for the role. But Lawrence merely replied to such accusations that she would never starve herself for a movie role and that she’s proud of her body.

On the other hand, Anne Hathaway lost 25 pounds for the new movie “Les Miserables,” 15 of it in just two weeks. Hathaway told Vogue magazine she did it by eating only two small squares of dried oatmeal paste a day, a dangerous and unhealthy diet all for the sake of getting into character. Hathaway said it was pretty nuts.

Beau Stephenson, a local actor from Pasco, Wash., said losing weight for a role is strictly a character decision between the director and actor, but it’s probably not the healthiest thing to do.

“As an actor, you take a look at the risks and assess them, and try to do it the smartest way possible,” Stephenson said. “If you’re going for a sense of realism and you want to be true to the character and weight is a big factor, then it’s something you have to do.”

Stephenson did give credit to Lawrence, though, for her decision to maintain her normal weight for the role even though the book portrays her character as frail and skinny.

“I think it was a really smart decision for her and it didn’t detract from her acting at all,” Stephenson said.

Blair Harmon, a senior in the dietetics program, said she has more respect for Lawrence knowing she chose to be herself for the role of Katniss.

“It was nice to watch that movie and see that she wasn’t super skinny,” Harmon said. “She wasn’t fat, but very toned.”

Harmon said that Hathaway’s lightning weight loss was dangerous and stupid. She said that severe weight loss like that is bad for the body because it pulls water from the muscles, reduces muscle mass and once the body returns to normal food consumption, it will naturally store more of it as a defense against further malnutrition, thus causing a faster weight gain.

Harmon said Hollywood’s general portrayal of what women should look like is unrealistic and presents a false image to young girls.

Lynzee Baxter, a physical education major from Spanish Fork, agreed with Harmon, saying Hollywood makes it seem like it’s a bad thing for women to have any fat on their body.

“They come out with the appearance that everyone’s thin and it comes naturally, when that’s not the case,” Baxter said.

Baxter said she admires celebrities like Lawrence and Adele who are confident with themselves, even if the media says they need to conform.

“It would be hard living in that kind of world and always having people tell you you’re too fat,” Baxter said. “I feel like most women do look like them (Lawrence and Adele), and that’s normal for everyone else outside of Hollywood.”

As a runner, Baxter said she had weight insecurities at times growing up due to outside sources and comparing herself to famous runners, but she realized it was more important to find greatness in herself.

“Your weight doesn’t define who you are,” Baxter said. “I find a lot of solace with knowing this is who I am and I’m happy with who I am.”

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