Save All Starving Starlets (SASS)

Every once in a while, I think a worthy non-profit endeavour would be to take up donations to feed Hollywood’s starving masses. I’m sure it affects men as well, but as far as I can tell we don’t have any male stars walking around with their ribcage practically poking through their skin. I can think of five women, just off the top of my head, who went from being healthy (and I do not use the term as a euphemism for fat like it seems to imply to some, I mean…in good health) to being skin and sometimes  bones.

Tracey Gold. Everyone knows her story, and it’s sad. As a very normal looking girl, she was told how  fat she was and quite literally starved herself down to nothing. Incidentally, this  is a worse look than healthy,  Hollywood execs. Maybe she’s a bad example of the alarming slim-down that many actresses go through. Maybe she’s not.

Jennifer Aniston. You’re thinking what? What? Yes, she’s still very vivacious. But compare her first year on Friends to her last. Her curves  disappeared.  

Brittany Murphy. She was adorable in Clueless, wasn’t she? Maybe her drastic weight loss a few years later was her “growing up,” but that’s an awful lot of growing up.

Lindsay Lohan. She looked fabulous as a curvy redhead. Now she looks…like almost everyone else in Hollywood: a blonde bobblehead doll.

Nicole Richie. I’m seriously worried about her. She should eat well-marbled roast beef and mashed potatoes slathered in butter for about a month straight.

I’m not asserting these women aren’t still beautiful, mind you. They are. It’s just that they were more beautiful before it somehow got in their heads they needed to be thinner, thinner, thinner. And I just thought of another.  I’m watching as they re-air Dark Angel on the SciFi Channel and I even noticed between the first and second seasons, Jessica Alba lost some of her curves. Sometimes it’s more subtle, but it’s there.

These are all women who acheived some degree of success as they were before they “decided” to slim down – imagine what it must be like for women trying to make it in the acting world. It’s appalling that being underweight is encouraged.

As for me, I’m not willing to give up bread just so I can look like everyone else.


  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think I love you based on the title of this alone. ROFL!

    It’s not really funny, of course. I’d add Courtney Cox to the list – stunningly beautiful when she was in that Bruce Springsteen video in 1984, beautiful now… but I found myself staring at bones in the last few seasons of Friends. Supposedly, everything in TV and movies caters to the whims of young men, and yet I can’t find a single young man who prefers bones to curves. Not one. (Incidentally, see why I question Hollywood’s claims that they’re just “giving the audience what it wants to see”?)

    And no, male actors are not encouraged to get underweight. They need to stay slim if they’re on TV, because the camera makes everyone look wider and broader, but you can’t be underweight and have muscle like most of them have anymore, as per the trend.

  2. sbg says

    Bugger, I messed up the title, which I never would have noticed.

    Oh, yes. Mustn’t forget Courtney. She did get awfully bird-thin too, didn’t she?

    Maybe some women are naturally thin (as Lara Flynn Boyle claims) and always have been without an ounce of fat, but I’d be willing to bet that percentage is a lot smaller than Hollywood seems to think it is. There’s nothing wrong with being thin, of course, it would just be nice to let people be free to be themselves. Being a normal body weight certainly doesn’t decrease talent.

  3. scarlett says

    Nicole Kidman? Granted, she was always slim, but she looks like she’d dropped another five kilos on top of that in the last five years.

    Interestingly, I’ve written an article on Lindsy Lohan and about how nearly every man I’ve met thinks she was much hotter as a curvy redhead then a skinny blond. Which makes me think it’s actually WOMEN pressuring other women to be skinny.

  4. sbg says

    Yeah, she’s become very thin, too.

    I don’t know where the idea that thinner is better is coming from, only that I don’t like it or think it’s healthy in any regard. If it’s natural, fine. If it’s because of pressure, not fine.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    In real life, women pressure other women do bother with looks to an insane degree. But not in film or TV. Actors don’t intentionally gain or lose weight except at the behest of the people who pay them. Their appearance is part of what they’re paid for. If Lindsay’s producers don’t like how skinny she’s gotten, it wouldn’t matter what all her girlfriends think. Clearly, this is what the people who pay her want to see.

    99% of those people are men, who claim to be giving the target male audience what it wants to see. Therefore, the industry’s claim is that millions of men prefer Skinny Lindsay.

    And yet you and I can’t dig up one. I’ve yet to meet a guy who doesn’t go “ewww” at the mention of Kate Moss. So who IS this skinny obsession really servicing?

    I think it’s just a form of power abuse. Some people in film really get off on abuse, and actors of both genders are an easy target. I just think this happens to be one way they abuse females.

    Oh, and Callista Flockhart, who went from cute to Wicked Witch’s Broom.

  6. Mecha says

    How I feel that the female stick beauty standard rose out of society.
    1) People are anti-fat. This makes people pro-slim, in a fit of polarization.
    2) Making people into comodities means that it helps to have a major, obvious criteria.
    3) People liked Twiggy once. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    In ways, it may be (believed to be) the most repeatable formula for model/actress success. (And I think models get it worse than actresses, honestly.) TV is run by innovation, imitation, saturation, and it’d be silly to think that that mindset hasn’t been locked into writers/producers/etc’s minds.

    The further point is that by explicitly making the beauty stereotype overly stickish, one would:
    a) Reduce famous star womens’ presence (smaller women, even less powerful.)
    b) Increases effort spent on nearly unattainable physical state by women (as opposed to ‘normal’ physically attainable states.)
    c) Reduce male and female ability to relate to female characters (who are unrealistic at first glance.)

    And at no… real gain whatsoever for anyone. Power’s not a bad direction to go, but this isn’t a 1-1 thing. Power to shape a nation’s perceptions… if nothing else, the dryest of dry runs on making sure that media does affect people?


  7. Patrick says

    As a man, I definitely found Lohan more attractive as a curvy redhead than a skinny blonde, and all of my male friends feel the same. So I also wonder where this supposed target audience is.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m always hesitant to make this point because I certainly can’t prove it, but here it is, strictly anecdotal: it seems to me you have to be malnourished to be 20 pounds under (which is what actresses generally aim for), and malnourishment causes depression, mental fog, etc. It’s like the body shuts down non-essential functions – like self-confidence, passion, etc. – to conserve energy from the starvation rations it’s getting.

    Anyone who lacks self-confidence and the ability to feel good and think straight is going to be easier to manipulate and use.

    I don’t think I’d go so far as to suggest anyone’s thought this out and conspired to make it happen. But I think they’re at least unconsciously aware of it as an added bonus.

    At the very least, it seems a lot of actresses with spines have been told to lose weight, and been fired for not doing it. Delta Burke, Shannen Doherty (who may have issues, but was dead right that it would’ve sent a horrible message for her character on 90210 or Charmed to have an overweight problem worked into the scripts).

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    One more item on this subject… I’ll never forget Carrie Fisher telling a story of how Lucas gave her the part of Leia, but told her to lose 10 pounds before shooting started. She only lost 5, and was terrified he’d just send her home and find someone skinnier.

    Harrison Ford, conversely, has had a paunch more often than not since sometime in the 70’s, but that’s okay, apparently.

  10. scarlett says

    I meant that women expect to see skinny women in some kind of collective self-sabotage. As I said, I’m yet to meet a man who preferred skinny blond Lindsay over curvey redhead Linday. How the message got translated to ‘the thinner, the better’ I don’t know, because the feeling I’ve gotten from people is the opposite.

    I was reading an article about how size-20 Jo Frost (Supernanny) gets stopped on the street by men begging to get into her pants. I can’t help but think she’ll join the ranks of Sophie Dahl and Sara-Marie Fedele who were embraced for their large figures then found greater success having slimmed down.

  11. scarlett says

    Hey Beta, do you still run those polls? I vote we do one on who’s sexier: skinny blond Lindsay or curvey redhead Lindsay. Stick THAT to the ‘we blond skinny blond women because MEN want skinny blond women’ producers :p

  12. sbg says

    That (and a serious lack of acting talent) is why I’d never make it in that industry. I’d refuse to lose weight for money, which would leave me very unsuccessful at it. I’m far more likely to be contrary about it. “You want me to lose weight? Ha. I’m going to gain ten pounds!”

    Okay, so I wouldn’t really, but I have in the past. When I was a teenager, my mother expressed her concern about how much I weighed, and I did go and gain weight, partially to spite her and partially because it upset me so much I turned to food for the comfort I clearly wasn’t getting from her.

  13. Patrick says

    One nice exception to this rule: when Jewel Staite got the part of Kaylee on Firefly, producer Joss Whedon asked her to GAIN twenty pounds, taking her from the skinny model look to normal woman look, because it suited the character. And every other man I’ve spoken to about it thought she looked great with the “extra” twenty pounds.

  14. sbg says

    I was going to mention this. Bravo for Mr. Whedon in that particular case.

    Alas, I saw Jewel this past July…and she now disappears when she turns sideways. She’s very thin.

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    Ha – I intended to mention this one, too! Clearly, it made a big impression on many of us.

    Firefly was the first show I saw her on, and honestly, the question of what she weighed never entered my mind. I just thought she was very cute. When I found out she’d gained weight for the role, it angered me: she looked great in Firefly, but this wasn’t her normal look?

    I’ve since seen her in Davinci’s Inquest, which was earlier, and she’s cute in it, too, but I prefer the Firefly look. “Kaylee” had a vivaciousness about her as well, which further enhanced her attractiveness.

  16. scarlett says

    Darn… would have been interesting to see the results (and by that, I mean, how many times more ppl liked curvy readhead lindsey over skinny blond lindsey…)

  17. Mecha says

    I’m not sure it would have proved much of anything around here except confirm we like our women to have some meat, as it were. ^_~ (Also, I have been assured by people that being all bone is very dangerous and sometimes painful for the people you’d like to have sex with. For some reason.)


  18. sbg says

    I don’t know about sex, but hugging people who have rib and collar bones protruding out isn’t very much fun.

  19. sbg says

    I figured this thread might be a good place for this observation:

    I’ve just perused photos from this weekend’s MTV Movie Awards and I have to say – the scarcity of clothing really revealed how appallingly thin some women in Hollywood are. I worry for their long-term health, I really do.

    It’s kind of reactive of me, but I find myself liking women such as Mandy Moore simply because she’s maintained her delicious curves.

  20. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m finding on some BBC British shows, the actresses look to be a very normal weight – like Jewel Staite in “Firefly”, who gained 20 pounds because Whedon wanted her to look like a real girl rather than an actress.

    I really, really don’t think the target audience is going to reject actresses who aren’t health-threateningly underweight. I don’t know where that demand is coming from, but it’s certainly not made of male actors, who are allowed to maintain healthy weights. It needs to stop.

  21. sbg says

    I’m finding on some BBC British shows, the actresses look to be a very normal weight – like Jewel Staite in “Firefly”, who gained 20 pounds because Whedon wanted her to look like a real girl rather than an actress.

    Yep, was watching BBCAmerica this weekend and caught a show which had two very normal looking women as cast members. It was nice to see someone with arms instead of sticks.

    I really, really don’t think the target audience is going to reject actresses who aren’t health-threateningly underweight.

    The problem seems to be that not everyone sees how truly thin these women are, in order to appear so tiny on TV.

  22. Jennifer Kesler says

    The problem seems to be that not everyone sees how truly thin these women are, in order to appear so tiny on TV.

    It’s true that if TV didn’t mask the thinness, there would be more outrage and/or a simple lack of interest in seeing women who look starved.

    What I can’t figure out is where anyone ever got the idea women needed to be underweight to look good on TV. That is a serious case of fat-phobia. And the BBC is demonstrating that women at their natural slim weights look great, not fat.

    Marian (Lucy Griffiths) is a good example – I’m pretty sure in person she’d look slender, but you wouldn’t be able to count the bones in her arms. There’s a show called “Innocent” that features a dark haired girl whose collar bones aren’t visible and whose arms aren’t particularly defined. She also doesn’t look “fat”. That same show features another girl who’s very, very slender, but I haven’t seen her in a low enough collar to tell if her bones are sticking out, but she does have a slender frame so this is likely a healthy weight for her.

    I think cameras and film have progressed on TV to where it doesn’t always “put 10 pounds on you”. I could be wrong, but in the past few years, starting with Buffy and Courtney Cox, I’ve started noticing more and more just how skinny some women are even within their shows.

  23. sbg says

    Marian (Lucy Griffiths) is a good example – I’m pretty sure in person she’d look slender, but you wouldn’t be able to count the bones in her arms. There’s a show called “Innocent” that features a dark haired girl whose collar bones aren’t visible and whose arms aren’t particularly defined. She also doesn’t look “fat”.

    Yes! That’s the exact show I was talking about – that girl is lovely. And I’ve already confessed my little crush on Marian, which is in part due to Lucy Griffiths.

    Just think about Amber Benson when she was on BtVS. Who didn’t think she was a big woman when comparing her to her female castmates? And yet, having seen her in person, I can attest that she’s quite slim and not terribly tall. It’s messed up that we see someone who looks healthy and normal and she appears wrong, somehow, in comparison to her tiny, teeny, TINY female counterparts. It’s appalling, because there’s no wrongness about her physical appearance.

  24. Jennifer Kesler says

    For the audience at home, SBG and I have both on separate occasions seen Amber Benson at a coffee shop 😀 and we were both stunned to realize she’s average height (maybe a tad on the tall side) and quite slender in both build and weight.

    I talked to a girl who met S.M. Gellar in person once, and indicated the woman was shorter than I am, which is almost 5′ 2″. Jeez.

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