By Katiee McKinstry
Actress Drew Barrymore, 45, said that she has to “work hard so she’s not the size of a bus” in her latest interview with InStyle. In the interview, Barrymore talks about her intense workout routine and how she must have been “thin and mean” in a past life.
In a past life? What Barrymore fails to realize is that many fat people are healthy. They can choose to work out and “eat clean” if that’s their preference. Loving one’s body is not about being thin, but rather, treating it with care. Sometimes that means working out, and sometimes that means eating an entire pizza and not feeling guilty about it. Wonder if Barrymore has ever done that?
Let’s really unpack this, though. Could Barrymore just be a victim of diet culture? The actress goes on to say that she undergoes very intense training to make her body as small as possible for her role in Santa Clarita Diet – a show about zombies in which she is one and has to eat a lot for filming. Hmm. Barrymore says she loses about 20 pounds before filming the show. Could that be because she has to eat so much during filming? According to the podcast Office Ladies, Jenna Fisher said that while filming The Office, the actors would keep buckets near them when they filmed eating scenes. This was because they ate so much trying to get a good take of the scene, it would make them throw up. With that knowledge, perhaps Barrymore makes herself lose the weight so that she can gain it back during filming and still look thin. Does she not see how hard that must be on her body?
This is not the first time the film industry has been guilty of this. Think back to The Devil Wears Prada and how Anne Hathaway gained and lost weight during filming to fit her character. When her character “blossomed” and became “hot”, suddenly she was much, much thinner than where she started out. Hathaway has even admitted to gaining and losing weight rapidly for the role. Wasn’t the “fat” version of Hathaway just as beautiful and wonderful? The movie could have been about loving yourself exactly as you are, as opposed to what society tells you you have to be. Instead, the film seems to follow the Hollywood trope of a fat woman; that fat women are foolish and sloppy, often times seen as a mess that no one could possibly love -until they lose weight. We see this over and over again in the media, and it needs to stop.
Now, shaming Hathaway or Barrymore is not the goal here. Rather, it is time for celebrities to be held accountable for the way they talk about weight and diet. Barrymore states she does not want to be “the size of a bus.” First of all, no one is the size of a bus, obviously. However, when fat people read that, it reinforces that something is wrong with our bodies. When thin, 45-year-old Barrymore says she does intensive workouts to stay thin and that she must have been “thin and mean” in a past life, she is invalidating fat people everywhere. Fat people can also do intense workouts. Fat people can also love their bodies just the way they are. Fat people are not the size of buses, and many are completely happy in the skin they are in. Weight and exercise are not always an accurate indicator of health. “Healthy” is subjective to every person, and there is certainly nothing healthy about mocking other people’s bodies!
It is not as if anyone of any weight cannot have issues with their bodies and self image. Women in particular are held to impossible beauty standards, and often fluctuate in weight. Barrymore intensively working out and trying to stay as thin as possible can be blamed on the diet culture we live in. Barrymore probably grew up seeing models and actresses who are extremely thin, and aspired to be thin also. The notion that being fat is ugly or unhealthy just is not true, and it is something that the media has fed to American society for a long time. Anyone at any weight can struggle with their body image; however, it is important to note how we talk about these things.
When you compliment a fat person on weight loss, what are you really saying? That they weren’t beautiful before? Or that they have to lose weight to look good? When you are a relatively thin person and you complain about your weight or perhaps say you have to work out four times a week so you don’t look like a bus, what are you really communicating? It is more important now than ever for people to be held accountable for their inherent fatphobia, so they can begin to learn how their words truly impact fat humans.
This is not about shaming Barrymore. It is completely understandable that she may struggle with her body image. She’s a mother, and a child actress that grew up in the public eye. Her body has been through a lot. However, it is important to keep actresses like Barrymore accountable. The things they say can impact any fat person, especially a young fat woman who may look up to them, very deeply. One person’s version of healthy may not resemble your own, and that’s okay. But the plotline that we have been fed about fat people is not accurate. Not all fat people desire to be thin and they are not all “unhealthy.” They do not “not know how to eat” and no one is the size of a bus. Let’s rewrite this story. Just because you struggle, does not mean no one else does. ALL BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL! That’s that.