It's no secret that Hollywood plays a key role in dictating how we view beauty standards. Between the pictures shoved in our face from magazines to how leading roles in our favorite movies look, it's too easy to be overwhelmed by what we are "supposed" to look like.
While Hollywood has made moves toward body positivity, there is still work to be done. I chatted with four women about how Hollywood has impacted their personal body image, as well as what they believe needs to change for us to progress.
What celebrity do you think embodies body positivity?
Brittany — To me personally, it seems like Lizzo is the ultimate body positivity queen! I love her lyrics in "Truth Hurts" and this exemplifies what it means to love the skin you're in and not take bull from anyone.
Radhi — Selena Gomez embodies body positivity in the way she uses her platform to encourage others to embrace their being instead of finding the need to showcase their body in a derogatory fashion in order to get likes or societal validation. Furthermore, as a woman of color, she's developed a beauty brand called Rare Beauty with the mission statement to celebrate our versatility and the aspects of our beauty that makes us unique. It's a beautiful movement.
Jenni — Serena Williams all the way. Foremost, she is physically and mentally strong. On top of that, she is not ashamed of this strength. When she isn't on the tennis courts, Serena is encouraging, motivating, and empowering young girls as she reminds them that they are good enough in all aspects of life. As a young tennis player, I looked up to Serena and am so lucky that she was, is, and will always root for body positivity.
Bri — I really love Demi Lovato. She is honest about how body positivity is a journey and isn't just an uphill battle. She embraces who she is now while also acknowledging her past to get there.
What is something celebrities do that preaches harmful body image to their followers?
Brittany — I think the endorsement by celebrities of any product that could potentially harm people is always a no-go for me — like those appetite suppressant lollipops Kim Kardashian endorsed and that whole Flat Tummy Tea thing from Khloe.
Radhi — Celebrities tend to wear outfits that they normally wouldn't wear, but their record label has branded them a certain way where they have no choice but to comply. Ariana Grande and Bhad Bhabie have discussed this in interviews on how they would like to be more covered or like to change their style. Being inauthentic I believe can shatter their own body positivity and it shows. It's also not their fault they're held to their contract. Maybe something management can be more aware of in terms of body positivity since it puts off their most exposed artists' vibe.
Jenni — There are so many negative, toxic behaviors that celebrities do (usually unintentionally) that preaches harmful body image to followers. From the diarrhea teas to the "What I Eat In A Day" videos, these all spread diet-culture messages that can really impact the way people judge themselves. Some other examples include transformation photos, giving uncertified nutrition or fitness advice, and inadvertently commenting on different body types, including judging one's own body type.
Bri — I think celebrities really feed into looking a certain type of way, and they don't disown the amount of retouch and editing that goes into magazine shoots, etc. They just ignore it and really don't confront the issues that those things bring. They act like magazine pictures are natural selfies.
Has your personal body image ever been impacted by a celebrity?
Brittany — I think my body image has been more influenced by the people around me in my personal life than any celebrity.
Radhi — My body image has personally been influenced by Serena Williams. I am a tennis player and I love how strong yet light off her feet she can be. I also have to give a shoutout to Michelle Kwan the Olympic figure skater — she moves so gracefully it's a beauty to watch her performances. I look at body movement as art, but with strength. We all should love our bodies, take care of our bodies, but also train our bodies. We are far more capable than what we may seem.
Jenni — My body image has definitely been influenced by a celebrity. I have always been in love with Kendall Jenner, and, growing up, all I wanted was to look and be just like her. What can I say, she's gorgeous! But, guess what? So am I.
However, scrolling through all of her photos on Instagram always made me question my own self-worth and beauty because I constantly wanted to look like she and I depended on validation from friends and family. Nevertheless, important to note, is that it is NOT Kendall's fault. She was confident enough to post pictures of herself, and I in no way am blaming her for anything. She, too, grew up in a culture that emphasizes appearance over anything else, and no matter what, her confidence is a strength.
On a more positive note, Chrissy Teigen's body-positive posts always make my day. She always knows how to swiftly add humor in her posts, which allows me to laugh and enjoy and respect myself in my body.
Bri — Demi is my role model for the very reason I said earlier. She shows it's OK to embrace your body, whatever that looks like.
Do you follow/unfollow celebrities based on their body positivity?
Brittany — No, I pretty much only follow celebrities that I've kept up with for at least a year. Since body positivity means different things to different people, I wouldn't just follow or unfollow celebrities based on their views on this subject.
Radhi — I honestly only follow people I work with. I have an incredibly large network of modeling agencies, photographers, makeup artists, writers, scholars, producers, DJs, and other artists. Of course, I also follow close friends and family. Though, I'm happy to say my friends, family, and coworkers have all been amazing influences in my life who also happen to be amazing cooks! Thankfully, I also have a powerful body positivity yogi by my side who is always sharing her wisdom.
Jenni — I definitely follow/unfollow celebrities on social media based on their body positivity because this gives me the choice to decide who and what I want to surround myself with. When it comes to diet-culture, I don't get to choose what I'm bombarded with, but who I follow is a decision I can make. Hence, I want to take advantage of it. I ensure that I follow body-positive influencers and no one's profile will trigger any negative feelings, thoughts, and distortions.
Bri — I totally unfollow or follow celebrities based on this. I want an uplifting feed, not a negative one.
What do we need to talk about more in regard to Hollywood and body image?
Brittany — Personally, I think we need to address the idea that only certain body types are OK in Hollywood. I know that body acceptance has gotten a lot better in the last ten or so years, but disabled bodies, trans people, and numerous other groups of people are still being underrepresented when it comes to body positivity — that needs to change.
Radhi — Instagram has definitely been a game-changer when it comes to uncovering the fabricated lifestyle of a celebrity or athlete in Hollywood. This is because people have made it a standard to write what makeup brands their wearing, what hair extensions or eyelash extensions they have on, even which plastic surgeon they've been visiting for their body. It's become very normalized to say how much they're spending on their physicality, but not how much they're spending on therapy. We need to talk more about how celebrities are finding their zen throughout their daily routine of a four-hour session in hair and makeup followed by avoiding being assaulted by paparazzi. The media should shift their focus from what their body looks like to how they take care of their body thereby normalizing self-care and increasing body positivity.
Jenni — It's time to bring attention to the toxicity that is diet-culture and this includes speaking up against Hollywood's ignorance of representation of all body types, races, and genders. Everyone looks up to or at least watches what Hollywood does. From magazines, to paparazzi, to social media, it's all influenced by the entertainment industry, Our society cannot change for the better until Hollywood recognizes its faults and starts presenting reality.
Bri — We need to talk about how Hollywood is known for its actors, and it should also be known for its acting when it comes to presentation. No regular person looks the way they do on a magazine cover, and we need to attack that head-on. Hollywood needs to become more accountable for the messages they portray.