Why Do We Comment On Celebrities’ Weight Gain? Because We Want Celebrities To Be Thin

Cara Delevingne

by Edwina Langley |

Two very disturbing stories have hit the headlines over the last week. The first was as a result of the most recent issue of US OK magazine, which had this headline splashed across its front cover: ‘Taylor Shocker! Pregnant! Who’s The Dad?’ It accompanied a picture of Taylor Swift taken in early October with an arrow pointing at the natural curve of her stomach to indicate that because it wasn’t straight (or you know, concave), the singer must be expecting.

Inside were reports from a friend – that made me laugh – who’d said her recent weight gain was ‘totally out of character’ and that Taylor was consuming ‘twice the amount she normally does’ and choosing not to go to the gym as much.

Basically what I read from that is that a star chills out on a grueling fitness regime and a jealous acquaintance tells the tabloids she’s put on weight. This, it’s then surmised, must mean she’s pregnant because stars are not allowed to gain any weight, and if they do, they absolutely have to care about it.

Second headline: The Sun claimed earlier this year that Victoria’s Secret had refused to cast Cara Delevingne in their renowned fashion show in 2014 because she was ‘bloated’. This prompted VS casting director, Edward Razek, to write a message to Cara this week confirming that the newspaper’s claims were a ‘complete fabrication’.

Cara Instagrammed it.

What I read from this was, Cara didn’t appear in the Victoria’s Secret 2014 show so a tabloid newspaper decided to invent a reason why this was. And because it’s apparently OK to body shame, making up a story concerning Cara’s body was OK too.

It makes me sick.

One would have thought that following on from the Jennifer Aniston furore earlier this year, the tabloids might have learned a thing or two about commenting on women’s weight. Further to what can only be described as a media frenzy over snaps taken of Jennifer in her bikini on holiday, the actress was left with little option but to pen a piece for the Huffington Post to declare outright: ‘For the record, I am not pregnant.’

She went on to explain that ‘the objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing’, and closed with the statement: ‘I’ve learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon. What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are.’

It’s sad that just a few months on, very little – nay, nothing – has changed. Women’s body shapes are still the stuff of headlines and people still buy into it. It makes me wonder what can actually be done to change this.

I think it comes down to the perverse desire for us still to expect our celebrities to be thin. Why else would we assume that because an actress puts on weight, the logical conclusion to arrive at is that she’s having a baby – or isn’t up to her job? She can’t not want to be as thin as she was before because, what celebrity could want that? Thinness is part of the job description. There must be some other reason at play…

When stars are thin, it keeps them in an unreachable state, which is where we like our stars to be. When they put on weight, they become like us – fallible – and we point it out because it makes us feel better about not being thin enough ourselves.

I’m not saying everyone values thinness in the same way, but undeniably, we in the West support the idea that being thin is a look worth aspiring to. Change that, and the above fails to make headline news.

How can this happen? Telling us – the consumer – to look away from ‘Bloated Model’ headlines seems not to work. Getting casting directors and model scouts to change the aesthetic profile of the people they sign, when they’ve been conditioned by us to look for thinness, clearly won’t work either. So, alas, it’s up to the celebrities. If they collaboratively decided to put an end to their punishing gym routines and diets – defied their industries’ unreasonable expectations, and ours – and allowed themselves to be the weight they are naturally, there’d be so many examples of ‘pregnant singers’ and ‘bloated models’, the papers wouldn’t know who to do with themselves. Their shapes would cease to be newsworthy and the body shaming stories would stop.

It’s a long shot, I know… but undeniably, an idea with weight.

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