Monday, October 15, 2012

Weighted Words

The New York Times recently published an article, "Female Stars Step Off the Scale". Author Alessandra Stanley cites such examples as Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Lady Gaga, Molly Tarlov, Rebel Wilson, Christina Aguilera, Christina Hendricks, and Kat Dennings. But let's take a closer look...

It's true that more diverse body types are shown on TV. But their bodies are the exception, not the rule. The women chosen in this article are the only women who don't fit the current hegemonic culture's beauty ideal. All of these women are well-known but primarily because of their weight. Type 'Christina Aguilera' into Google. Notice how the first search suggestion is 'Christina Aguilera weight'? The same applies to Christina Hendricks (her cup size is also frequently searched), Kat Dennings, and Molly Tarlov. Curiously, Rebel Wilson's name is the only Google search that brings up 'weight loss'. Why is it that these women, who aren't the Hollywood stereotype, are synonymous with weight? Why don't we hear these names and think of the Grammy awards, the Emmy nominations, the hit TV shows, the indie films, the brilliant comedic timing?

I believe that Stanley meant well when writing this article. By calling attention to the 'curvy women' on TV, then society is taking a step in the right direction toward total body acceptance. But the fact that this article exists is the problem. Stanley, just like every other media source, has connected these women's names with their weights. This problem won't go away just because a few 'curvy women' are in the spotlight. We have a long road ahead of us, America.

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