Is Jennifer Lawrence a Body Positive Role Model?

by February 27, 2014
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The Hunger Games director Gary Ross may have cast actress Jennifer Lawrence as the trilogy’s heroine, but it was Lawrence who cast herself as a body positive role model. Ever since she earned her space in the limelight with her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in the blockbuster movie franchise, “JLaw” has been advocating for Hollywood to accept a healthier body image.

From the get go, Jennifer was very vocal about her body acceptance. She responded to criticism that she was too curvy to play the impoverished District 12 tribute by saying that she was never going to starve herself for a part. “I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner,’” she said. This was a bold statement, but the risk paid off; self-proclaimed “fat actress” Jennifer has been hailed as a body-positive role model by fans and critics alike.

Jennifer has embraced this role just as much as the role of Katniss. When asked about makeover shows, she claimed that “it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV” and asked “why is humiliating people funny?” However, if fat-shaming really had been made illegal, then Jennifer would be a law breaker. She played actor Christian Bale’s wife in the movie American Hustle – a role that won her the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress – and after making out with Christian of the Dark Knight fame who put on forty pounds for the movie, she said, “I finally get to make out with Christian Bale and he’s a really fat guy.” He’s Fatman, not Batman.”

Granted, women do face more extreme pressure to uphold a certain physical standard than men, but that does not mean that women have the green light to mock men for their weight. This comment by Jennifer was just as bad as the fat-shaming discourse that she previously berated. It diminished Christian because of his weight, and if a successful actor who put on a few pounds for a role can be deemed as lesser because of his size, then what is stopping people from using this same frame of mind when they think about one another?

There’s another part of the problem that’s hard to ignore: Jennifer is gorgeous. She may not be the size 00 that we are so accustomed to seeing photo shopped across red carpets everywhere, but she is by no means “fat.” She is universally hailed as being attractive, and even made a top-ten spot on the Maxim Hot 100 in 2013. This isn’t to say Jennifer doesn’t face body scrutiny just like everybody else, or that the positive messages that she has been spreading aren’t valuable. But would she still be hailed as cute and quirky if she were talking about her love of pizza while wearing a size 10? What about a 20? At some point the media would stop treating her outbursts about being starving and wanting French fries as proof that she is funny and down to earth, and start being disgusted by her words. People wouldn’t say “well that’s why she’s a great role model;” they would say “well that’s why she looks like that.”

Hailing a woman like her as the body positive role model can actually be damaging for gurls who really do consider themselves fat. Instead of being empowered by Jennifer’s brazen statements they’re more likely to become resentful knowing that if they acted in the same manner they’d be shamed for it and called unhealthy. And of course, when Jennifer calls herself a “fat actress” and fans everywhere call her “curvy,” bigger gurls can’t help but wonder what they are seen as.

There are plenty of body positive role models who fully embrace who they are, even if they are not “hot” enough to score a spot in Maxim. Take Gabourey Sidibe for example. The plus-sized actress responded to tweets that it looks like she “ate the Golden Globes” on twitter. “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I most def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK,” she said. Gabourey didn’t refute the claims that she’s fat, nor did she revel in them and go off on a tangent about food; instead, she showed that the claims simply don’t matter to her. She’s greater than them.

Gabourey’s is a body positive mindset women everywhere can look up to. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, or thin or on the Maxim Hot 100; you are much more than your weight.

Do you think Jennifer Lawrence is a body positive role model? Post your comments below.


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