The Google Searches Around Katherine Heigl Are Painfully Sexist

As the Firefly Lane actor trends, Georgia Aspinall explores why everyone is so consumed by her looks and so-called 'diva' reputation.

Katherine Heigl

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Katherine Heigl is trending on Google once again. Why? Because the Hollywood legend is currently starring as Tully Hart in Netflix’s Firefly Lane, a drama that follows the friendship of two, somewhat co-dependent, women throughout their lives. It’s riveting, emotional and heart-warming – but her latest stellar performance is not what people are Googling.

Instead, all anyone seems to care about is how Katherine Heigl looks in the TV show – and of course her age-old ‘diva’ reputation. But first, the looks: ‘Katherine Heigl weight gain,’ ‘Katherine Heigl plastic surgery’ and ‘Katherine Heigl pregnant’ are all currently breakout terms on Google. That means droves of people are watching the show, and then rushing to Google to search for what work she’s had done and or why she appears to have a fuller face in the series.

Then there’s the classic Katherine Heigl searches: ‘Katherine Heigl diva’ and ‘Is Katherine Heigl nice’ are equally popular. Why? Because if you cast your mind back to the noughties, Heigl made quite the stir with a few controversial comments. First, she bashed the film that took her from TV to movies, Knocked Up, calling Judd Apatow’s portrayal of women ‘sexist’.

‘It paints the women as shrews, as humourless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys,’ she told Vanity Fair in 2008. ‘I had a hard time with it on some days. I’m playing such a bitch, why is she being such a killjoy?’

At the time, those comments seem to ruin Heigl reputation in Hollywood overnight –likely because it’s an industry predominantly run by men. Any woman whose watched Knocked Up – then or now – would likely agree with Heigl assessment – her character was entirely unredeemable for no reason whatsoever.

Katherine Heigl
©Getty Images

That same year, she insulted Shonda Rhimes work on Greys Anatomy. After the Hollywood press noted she hadn’t nominated herself for an Emmy that year – despite winning the year prior – she released a statement saying the ‘material’ she had been given by Shonda ‘didn’t warrant an Emmy nomination’. Shonda responded by saying she was ‘stung’ by the statement, in an interview with Oprah.

Now, that comment was unprofessional, sure – but, career-ruining? That’s seems a bit steep. And yet, 13 years on, people still only seem to think of Katherine Heigl as a ‘diva’. This is despite the fact she’s apologised for both incidents, clarified what she meant in reference to Shonda Rhimes material.

‘I wasn’t feeling good about my work that season, no,’ Heigl told Howard Stern in 2016. ‘As an actor, if you want to get nominated [for an Emmy], you have to submit your work. That year, I said I’m not going to submit [anything] because there is nothing I feel good about. . . . I didn’t feel good about my performance . . . and there was a part of me that thought, because I had won the year before, that I needed juicy, dramatic, emotional material.

I remember wearing shoes a size too small because I didn’t want to be difficult.

‘I went in to [see] Shonda and said, “I'm so sorry. That wasn’t cool, and I should not have said that.”’ Heigl continued. ‘And I shouldn’t have said anything publicly. But at the time, I didn’t think anyone would notice. . . . I just quietly didn’t submit and then it became a story, and I felt I was obligated to make my statement, and [I should have just said], “Shut up, Katie”’.

She also admitted at the time that she sought therapy because of the media backlash. ‘I had never done therapy until a couple years ago,’ said Heigl. ‘I started going because of the . . . scrutiny. I was not handling it well. I was feeling completely like the biggest piece of shit on the bottom of your shoe. I was really struggling with it and how to not take it all personally and not to feel that there’s something really deeply wrong with me. It was at first very hard.

Heigl went on to explain that she internalised the criticism so much, she ended up terrified to speak up on set even when it was necessary. ‘I remember doing this little independent movie and just being afraid to say anything about anything,’ Heigl said. ‘I remember wearing shoes a size too small because I was afraid to tell wardrobe that they weren’t big enough because I didn’t want to be difficult.’

It’s with all that in mind one has to ask, isn’t it time we let Katherine Heigl off the ‘diva’ hook? She made two somewhat unprofessional comments, one of which was entirely fair, 13 years ago. If she were a man, she’d have been likened to a badass, authentic rebel with leading roles for years to come. Hell, men in Hollywood can quite literally scream at staff on set, abuse their partners, assault women and continue to make blockbusters. That’s not to say, of course, that we should lower the bar – but that we should certainly let women speak their mind, when they’re not really harming anyone, without casting them as a ‘diva’ and causing untold harm on their career.

When it comes to the plastic surgery searches though, that’s a whole other debacle. Heigl’s never addressed having any plastic surgery, but has been open about struggling with how much weight she gained during pregnancy.

For once, let’s shift focus away from the painfully boring narratives female actors have to go through.

‘I gained almost 50 pounds during my pregnancy and I'm not gonna lie, I had moments of sheer panic that I'd never be able to lose it all,’ Heigl shared on Instagram in 2017. ‘I had hoped to only gain 25-30 pounds like my mother during her pregnancies but found that just wasn't possible for me.’

It’s clear then that Heigl has struggled with body image issues since gaining weight from pregnancy. And whether it’s her body, or her face, you’re Googling, quite frankly, it’s no one else’s business but hers.

For once, let’s shift focus away from the painfully boring narratives female actors have to go through. Let’s stop obsessing about their weight, whether they’ve had work done or whether they’re a bitch in real life. Instead, can we simply focus on how truly amazing Heigl is as Tully Hart? And more than that, how much we already know we need a season two of Firefly? Now that would be a breath of fresh air.

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