Over the past few years, something strange has slowly but surely happened to Jennifer Lawrence: she's become the poster child for Hollywood body positivity.
Every time JLaw does an interview or a junket or just walks down a red carpet, someone feels the need to ask her about the size of her body, and the types of food she decides to put in it. She answers in a tone that is relatable and self-deprecating, and the internet goes wild. JLaw is, despite all signs pointing otherwise, just like us.
“I would like us to make a new normal body type,” JLaw recently told Harper's Bazaar, adding that "we’ve gotten so used to underweight, that when you are a normal weight, it’s like: ‘Oh, my God, she’s curvy.’ Which is crazy. The bare minimum would be to up the ante. At least so I don’t feel like the fattest one.”
I have been in the same room as Jennifer Lawrence exactly twice. I am also conventionally thin, with a "4" dress size that I work very hard to maintain. Still, Jennifer is much, much thinner than me. She's Hollywood thin. Both times I was in a room with JLaw, she was so far from being "the fattest one" in it that putting her and "fattest" in the same sentence would be criminally insane.
But regardless, here is an example of how media outlets are responding to these supposedly game-changing comments in her Harper's interview:
When this latest bit of JLaw body positivity mania started trending, I immediately thought of Ijeoma Oluo's excellent essay on Amy Schumer's similar schtick as the relatable cool-girl who "catches dick" while also daring to eat food. In the piece, Oluo argues that conventionally thin women like Amy who are "building an entire career off of your 'big girl' persona" then still display fat-phobic tendencies — like Amy did when she balked at her inclusion in Glamour's body-positive issue, and like JLaw does when she bemoans being the so-called "fattest one in the room" — should stay in their lane and let actual fat girls whose weight is used to deny their "value as human beings every single day" do the talking.
"That pain you feel when someone comments on your body? Multiply it by 1000, every day of your life, and you’ll know what it feels like to actually be fat in this country," Oluo said. "Because the moment you leave LA, you are a rich, thin, white woman. You know that, that’s what makes your 'big girl' persona so 'funny.' In fact, in most of LA, you are still a rich, thin, white woman. It’s privilege personified to be able to profit from an oppressed identity and yet shed it the second Glamour magazine decides to put it in print."
JLaw is no stand-up comedian like her famous BFF, but years of playing up her "big(ger) girl who loves Doritos" persona has done the same damn thing. She's profiting from an "oppressed identity" that she will never actually have.
One could say that it's not JLaw's fault that the media is obsessed with the fact that she's got five more pounds on her than, say, Taylor Swift does. But she and Schumer are both complicit in playing up their "curvy girl" appeal while also displaying fat-phobic tendencies, and that's a real shame for the actual women living in Hollywood with plus-sized bodies — like Melissa McCarthy, Ashley Graham, Adele, and Gabourey Sidibe — who deal with hateful comments and concern trolls every time they dare land an interview somewhere like Harper's Bazaar.
Tell me Melissa McCarthy could order McDonald's on national television and be endlessly GIF'd and revered by all as the coolest bitch in town. I'll wait.
At the end of the day, it is not JLaw's fault that she lives in a world that often cares about her body more than it does her remarkable talent. But allowing herself to become the spokeswoman for Hollywood body positivity in a world where Glamour can release a plus-size issue void of clothing for plus-sized women is not OK. JLaw needs to take that proverbial seat ASAP, and consider the harmful stereotypes she's reinforcing to her actually plus-size fans.
Talking about loving your body and even loving food should not just be for the exceptionally thin.