Earlier this week, Amy Schumer made headlines when she called out Glamour magazine for featuring her in their “plus-size” special edition issue, alongside Melissa McCarthy, Adele, Ashley Graham, and other noteworthy female celebs. But Schumer, a self-proclaimed size 6-8, felt that including her name on a “plus-sized” list gave women and girls around the world a skewed perception of what a plus-size body really and truly looks like. And she was not happy about it.
While Glamour editor-in-chief Cindy Leive quickly took to Twitter to explain that Schumer was only featured because of her “longtime message of body positivity,” the damage had already been done and the heated debate around what the term “plus-size” implies had been reignited.
And now, Jennifer Lawrence is adding even more to that dialogue with her latest interview, featured in the May issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, in which she sounds off about the impossible pressures of body image and the Hollywood ideal.
“I would like us to make a new normal-body type,” she tells Harper’s BAZAAR. “Everybody says, ‘We love that there is somebody with a normal body!’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t feel like I have a normal body.’ I do Pilates every day. I eat, but I work out a lot more than a normal person. I think we’ve gotten so used to underweight that when you are a normal weight it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, she’s curvy.'”
Yes, yes to everything she is saying. Yes to changing the perception of what it means to be healthy. Yes to saying “Damn, she looks great” and also acknowledging the daily work she puts into getting there. Yes to not defining one woman’s body by the ideal set by another.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the star has weighed in on the matter — she’s practically become a voice of reason about body image in Hollywood over the last few years. Just consider a few of her more infamous soundbites:
“I’d rather look chubby on screen and like a person in real life.” — December 2012
“In Hollywood, I’m obese. I’m considered a fat actress, I’m Val Kilmer in that one picture on the beach.” — November 2012
“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!'” — November 2012
“If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, “You can go f- yourself.” — October 2013
“YES!” we cried, after reading each one. “Finally an actress who gets it! She’s awkward and eats cheeseburgers and hates going to the gym — she’s normal!”
But really, when we are calling Jennifer Lawrence’s body “normal,” we are really saying that this is what we all look like. This is what the average woman looks like. This is what everyone can look like with just bare-minimum effort. And the reality is that to look like Jennifer Lawrence? Well, it’s not easy. It’s not easy at all — and she knows it better than anyone. She’s just finally willing to really admit it in black and white.
The average American woman is a size 14. Which means that the average American woman teeters right there on that ledge, just a handful of pounds away from — gasp! — plus-size territory. Often living in dread, or even fear, of the day when she might have to wander into that section of the store where the “fat” ladies go. The Plus-Size Section. Or worse, leave behind her favorite stores entirely to shop at ones that “cater” to her “size.”
And you know what? It’s bullshit. It really is. It’s time to redefine what it means to have a “normal” body. It’s time we look at ourselves and say “this is my normal.” It may not be Jennifer Lawrence’s normal. It may not be Gisele’s normal. It may not be your best friend’s normal or your coworker’s normal or that woman you just passed on the street’s normal. But it is normal — because it’s happening within your skin right now.
It’s time we get behind women like Adele and Melissa McCarthy and Ashley Graham who are redefining beauty, not just with their words but with their actions; with their success and their clothing lines and their refusal to bend to anyone else’s will.
But it’s also time to embrace the women on the other end of the spectrum, too. The ones who starve themselves to feel perfect. The ones, like Jennifer Lawrence, who hit the gym every day in an effort to work off the late-night cheese fries. And yes, even the ones who were blessed with incredible genes but fight other internal up-hill battles.
Because as with anything else, we cannot support one woman without supporting all women. A size-0 woman is not the natural born enemy of a size-18 woman, and we need to stop viewing her as such.
I can’t help but sit here and ask myself, what if our clothing sizes really were just that — clothing sizes? What if whatever size you were merely indicated what piece of clothing you would fit into? It was no measure of your beauty. It was no measure of your worth. It offered no one any opportunity to categorize or demean or banish you to the far reaches of society. It was merely a number to help guide you to find the perfect article of clothing to accentuate your body just right, to make you feel your best. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Look, what happens within the confines of your skin is your business. But how society makes you feel as you walk down the street? Well that’s the shared responsibility of all of humankind. And we need to honor that.More On