Let me say it again here, just in case the headline up there isn’t loud and clear enough: Journalists — and all of you hacks who pretend to be journalists — ENOUGH already.
Stop obsessing over whether an actress lost/gained weight, or if you think her face looks “puffy,” or if you think she looks older than you feel she should, or whatever other moronic obnoxious thing it is you’re obsessing about today.
The extent of snarky belligerence in so much media writing about these women and many others, and the frenzied focus on their weight, is shameful. We’ve seen endless accusations of eating disorders, of plastic surgery, of being “too heavy” for a particular role in a film, and other such obnoxious crap forever, and it’s got to stop.
Lindsay Lohan has been dragged through the mud back and forth for years now, subjected to all manner of insults, mockery, and accusations. This, despite the fact she was still very young throughout most of the coverage, and most of her “bad behavior” was personal behavior that should’ve been nobody else’s business. Her struggles with substance use and abuse in her young life shouldn’t be reduced to cheap exploitative little articles betting on whether she’ll have a relapse. we treat her like she’s not even a human being, and we pretend it’s acceptable because she’s famous and wealthy, we pretend we have a right to prod into her life at every personal moment and talk about her in the most demeaning, dehumanizing ways. And the rude, small-minded media coverage started when she was still so young that we should’ve understood her struggles with the difficulties of balancing fame, fortune, and a personal private life. but nobody bothered trying to understand, because it was easier to mock and exploit this young woman’s problems, and too many writers nowadays will always take the easier route.
Meanwhile, amid the praise and box office success of The Hunger Games came a few critics and writers who focused on Jennifer Lawrence, calling her too “heavy” and basically promoting the worst sort of attitudes about women’s weight and bodies. The film critics who zeroed in on Lawrence‘s body for criticism tried in some cases to pretend they were merely complaining that she didn’t look “starving,” but of course that’s just intellectually dishonest in light of the fact they pretty much ignored any similar complaints about the male characters who were obviously far from starving. Lawrence has made public statements that reveal she has a negative body image of herself, and I have little doubt that the mindless utterances of some critics and entertainment writers have played a role in perpetuating that negative self image.
The same sort of small minded attitudes were on display against Miley Cyrus recently as well, because she lost a few pounds due to a new diet. she can’t go out in public lately without a flurry of writers proclaiming she has an eating disorder, calling her too skinny or withering away and other such tripe. It’s the precise reverse of what Lawrence faces from those media trolls, and it demonstrates that there is only a very narrow window in which a female can avoid being accused of being too heavy or of having an eating disorder. This followed a flare up of media speculation about Cyrus’ breasts, too, so besides the constant media accusations about being too heavy or too small, we can add accusations of plastic surgery to the mix of what women can expect in terms of lousy brainless treatment from the press. Lohan has been subjected to a ton of media speculation recently claiming she’s had surgery as well, and for female stars, the plastic surgery questions and focus are a constant refrain.
Case in point, Ashley Judd and the recent media freak-out over whether her face might have looked slightly “puffy.” how much of a hack do you really have to be to pick as your article topic “her face was slightly puffy, I wonder why?” I can’t begin to express the true level of my disdain for this sort of guttural mentality among the media. I struggle to find other words besides “stupid” and “mindless,” but there aren’t enough terms for what comes below stupidity. do a Google search for Judd’s name (you don’t even have to put quotation marks around it)- and look at what comes up. “Puffiness” rules the search returns. Judd has personally responded, by rightly criticizing the inane ramblings of the press on this matter, and I hope she inspires other women to start hitting back every time the press starts a new round of this kind of thing.
It’s also important for writers involved in entertainment reporting and blogging to speak out, too, and that’s what I’ve decided to do today. Denise Restauri, one of my esteemed colleague here at Forbes, already spoke out on this issue and I applaud her for the excellent article (and for writing THIS important piece as well). Jenna Goudreau, another Forbes contributor, likewise gave Judd’s piece some great coverage to help open up more discussion about these issues, as did Forbes’ David Thier with his piece here.