In the (Entertainment) News – 8/15/08

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Hello HL readers! I’m here to scour entertainment news on a somewhat regular basis. Not everything entertainment related has a feminist slant, so I can’t guarantee a weekly or even semi-monthly column. In other words, we’ll see how this goes. :)

Let’s get started, shall we?

About eight months ago, I brought up Jennifer Love Hewitt’s war of words with tabloids for snapping unflattering pictures and calling her fat. This is, sadly, not an uncommon occurrence in today’s entertainment world.

Now we have this: the tabloids are reporting on Jennifer Love Hewitt’s amazing weight loss, which she insists is not a result of the debate back in December of 2007. Call me skeptical, I guess. It’s great for people to want to lose weight for health reasons, but what happened to being happy and standing up for herself the way she was? *le sigh* Mixed messages are so confusing.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I ran across this little blurb a month ago and never had the chance to do anything with it. It seems like an appropriate thing to juxtapose with the story above. Megan Fox, rising starlet and co-star of last year’s summer blockbuster Transformers, was asked (told?) to gain weight in order to be in the sequel. I’m not sure I’m fond of anyone dictating what to do with someone else’s physique, but that is part and parcel with an industry so reliant on body image and control. Ugh. On a contradictory note, I have to admit it is nice to see someone asked to enhance her curves (without PhotoShop!) rather than try to starve them away.

In other news, the Olympic games have brought important discussions to the plate. Rumblings about underage Chinese gymnasts resurface every other day. There’s been a pictoral debate on why women volleyball players wear bikinis while the guys cover up, which I think is a fair question. I can see both sides, there, though really – if it’s more comfortable for the women to wear less, wouldn’t the same apply to men? Take the shirts off, guys. C’mon. I think this highlights a broader issue – aren’t almost ALL female athletes’ bodies exposed far more than the men’s? I could be mistaken simply because I’ve noticed the camerawork tends to linger on the women more. Gee.

Let’s not forget the opening ceremony’s child singer switcheroo, involving a pretty girl lip synching to an ugly girl’s beautiful voice. What I find most disheartening about that isn’t the fact that it happened, but that the poor “ugly” girl is reportedly just as honored to have served her country as the pretty faux singer, a country which felt it had to hide her behind a proverbial curtain.

That’s it for today!

Comments

  1. Dom Camus says

    Take the shirts off, guys.

    Hear hear! Interestingly, if you do a Google Image Search for “Todd Rogers” it’s pretty clear that he generally does play with his shirt off, so this isn’t just a case of differing preferences between the genders.

  2. sbg says

    No. Match the Abs to the Face, for instance. Or this photo of Michael Phelps, in which he’s *technically* covered up. Not to mention water polo or diving, or the French rugby team’s internationally-popular calendars.

    While I take your point, surely you realize in the sports of swimming and diving it is quite logical for the men to wear less. Imagine the problems a bikini, even the sporty ones worn by women volleyballers, could cause a female swimmer or diver…

    And promotional calendars seem to be a free for all, eh?

  3. Audra says

    I just saw a blog post yesterday about how photographers covering the Olympics are obsessed with women’s butts.

    About gymnastics, I tend to think the amount of concern over it is a bit overblown, considering how much stuff Americans buy that is made by young Chinese girls in factories. Are people truly concerned about the girls, or just the fact that the U.S didn’t win? Then again, there is something wrong with any sport in which young children are considered better competitors than adults. Something is askew.

  4. sbg says

    Thanks for the link, Audra. Quite an interesting read, and pictures. At the very least I think the bikini bottoms could be boyshorts or something a BIT less likely to ride up.

    About gymnastics, I tend to think the amount of concern over it is a bit overblown, considering how much stuff Americans buy that is made by young Chinese girls in factories. Are people truly concerned about the girls, or just the fact that the U.S didn’t win? Then again, there is something wrong with any sport in which young children are considered better competitors than adults. Something is askew.

    Most of the female gymnasts, regardless of nationality, look like little babies to me. It’s difficult to say where the protestation comes from, and it would be interesting to see if the issue would have remained so “hot” for so long if the Chinese team hadn’t beat everyone rather soundly.

  5. lemurcat says

    I don’t think it’s great for people to want to lose weight “for health reasons,” since the media seriously exaggerates those reasons to give people an excuse to hate the fat, and the huge dieting industry is a monument to how it is pretty much impossible to actually permanently lose weight for health or any other reasons. The pressure to lose weight, often in the guise of concern for the person’s health, is in all likelihood a bigger threat to their health than the weight.

  6. sbg says

    I don’t think it’s great for people to want to lose weight “for health reasons,” since the media seriously exaggerates those reasons to give people an excuse to hate the fat, and the huge dieting industry is a monument to how it is pretty much impossible to actually permanently lose weight for health or any other reasons.

    Another good point, thank you.

    I saw this article earlier this week with a caption that read something like “Surprise! Being overweight might not mean you’re unhealthy.” And I thought that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Technically (according to diet plan sites), I am overweight. I suppose it’s true, I am. But I’m also pretty dang healthy. :)

  7. says

    I don’t think it’s great for people to want to lose weight “for health reasons,” since the media seriously exaggerates those reasons to give people an excuse to hate the fat, and the huge dieting industry is a monument to how it is pretty much impossible to actually permanently lose weight for health or any other reasons. The pressure to lose weight, often in the guise of concern for the person’s health, is in all likelihood a bigger threat to their health than the weight.

    But a LOT of people are suffering from weight-related diabetes and other conditions, like heart disease. If someone can’t get up and down a flight of stairs without going out of breath, they need to *not* be pressured against doing anything about it any more than they need to be told it’s all ‘will-power’ – they already have a hard enough time *getting* medical help, based on the experience of several RL friends of mine, and given that some ethnic groups overlapping with poorer economic groups suffer disproportionately from obesity. What we need is a reality-based approach to nutrition and metabolism (ie one that takes into account bone structure, the fact that fat is actually lighter in weight than muscle, etc etc) not a fashion-based faddish one, but ignoring *grave* health issues for the sake of ideology isn’t reality-based either.

  8. Patrick says

    Much as I like athletic women’s butts, this is pretty creepy and objectifying.

    Regarding gymnasts, one important thing to keep in mind is that even older gymnasts will have small, slim figures as a result of their conditioning. So they tend to look barely pubescent regardless of their age.

  9. sbg says

    But a LOT of people are suffering from weight-related diabetes and other conditions, like heart disease.

    In this particular case, playing the health card isn’t particularly legit, though. I suspect the amount of weight JLH didn’t have to lose wasn’t enough to give her major health problems.

    I fear in her case health is code for “look better,” which is perfectly fine as long as she did it for herself and slightly problematic (to me) if she did it as a response to tabloids calling her fat.

    None of this is coming out the way I mean. Personal anecdote: I could certainly stand to lose 20 lbs, but doing so wouldn’t significantly better my health. I’m already healthy and I feel great. Losing 20 lbs would be somewhat vanity related more than health.

    This is not to say millions of people all over the world don’t have major health issues as the primary motivators for weight loss.

  10. says

    At the time of the last Olympics, the bikini uniforms for women were mandatorily written into the rules. The FIVB regulations seem to have been amended since then, but I imagine that several years of mandatory “tradition” had an effect.

  11. says

    Re: the weight loss for health issue.

    The big problem is that as yet, the medical research industry doesn’t yet know as much as some doctors believe we know about all this stuff. Consider these recent studies which indicate:

    –Contrary to long-held belief in the medical research community, it seems it’s not the saturated fat but the sugar that damages you when you eat fast food. Additionally, as you’ll see if you follow the link, the saturated fat seemed to boost good cholesterol (that protects you from disease) rather than bad, which is exactly the opposite of what they’ve been telling us for decades.
    Being overweight and even obese can put you at less risk than being underweight. Again, other factors have to be at play.
    Kids who diet were found to gain more weight than kids who don’t, which indicates there’s a lot more to it than diet and exercise, and unfortunately no one’s sure what that is.

    I have to agree with lemurcat. I’ve had doctors telling me to lose weight even when I was at a normal weight since I was 16. Why? Because I had PCOS, and back then they thought it was caused by fat. I wasn’t fat, so they advised becoming UNDERWEIGHT because still, it had to be fat cells. I’d starve myself trying to lose the weight, and they’d act like they believed me when I told them how little I was eating and still not losing… and then they’d suggest a diet that contained more calories than I’d been eating. Translation: they didn’t believe me, and assumed I was just overeating, and if only I’d cut back to a number of calories that to me represents gluttony, I’d lose the weight and get hyper-skinny, like they thought was good for me.

    And now – 20 years later – they’re slowly realizing my disorder doesn’t always work like they thought and the advice I got was bad. Too bad for women like me.

    Instead of looking at weight, people need doctors who look at cholesterol numbers, other numbers and family history. I come from a long line of “obese” people who live to be spry, self-sufficient, very health 90-100 year olds. And some of them are way “fatter” than I’ve ever been. How come no doctor ever asked about that?

    So, without disrespecting the whole health care industry, I have to say take anything a doctor tells you with a whole salt lick when it comes to weight issues. Question their reasoning and then do your own research. A good doctor will respect you taking that initiative.

  12. sbg says

    I have to admit, I am a bit baffled a throwaway line in the post got so much attention. Regardless of anything, for me it’s perfectly fine if people want to claim they’re losing weight for health reasons. Even if it’s a load of crap (and I don’t think it’s load of crap for everyone), I don’t see that falling away as the number one reason people think they have to lose weight. Health is certainly not necessarily contingent on weight. I get that. I’m bleeping living proof of that.

    My point is, was and always will be that I didn’t really buy that as a reason for JLH to go from defending her “fat” self against loathesome media attention to splashing pictures and headlines on entertainment rags about her phenomenal weight loss.

  13. says

    SBG, sorry if you felt heavily criticized for a single line – I can’t speak for lemurcat, but I took his/her remark not so much as criticism of you as a jumping off point for an interesting discussion. What you said is true ideally: if you know X would help your health, it’s great to go for X. But in practical terms, how often is that the case with weight loss? We’re slowly realizing a lot of the advice people have been given over the years under the guise of “dieting for health” is wrong.

    But FWIW, you almost can’t say anything pro- or anti- weight loss in the feminist blogosphere without unleashing a debate full of interesting, valid and contradictory viewpoints. ;)

  14. sbg says

    SBG, sorry if you felt heavily criticized for a single line – I can’t speak for lemurcat, but I took his/her remark not so much as criticism of you as a jumping off point for an interesting discussion.

    Me: Holy crap, she’s pulling out the links! Run!

    ;)

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