Critics and film-goers agree that Jennifer Lawrence did an outstanding job portraying “The Hunger Games” heroine, Katniss Everdeen. To date, the film boasts a gross of $308 million dollars at the box office, and crowds in line to see it again (or for the first time) do not seem to be dying down –excuse the obvious pun. However, not all things are coming up roses for Katniss. Critics of the hit film caused a surge of internet backlash when more than a few authors made jabs regarding Katniss’ “fatness”.
As expected of the snarky Hollywood elitists, the writers selected their prose carefully. Many began by constructing back handed complimentary comments, first praising the star for her job well done, but stealthily moving on to say the actress was “too bulky” to play the role. Words like “baby fat” and “large” were thrown into reviews like acid-flavored sauce on an insult sundae.
Despite the 21-year-old waving off the criticism with the grace and poise of someone twice her age, what message do these reviewers send to our teenage daughters with their comments about a fit, strong and muscular actor being “fat” when she is anything but?
Let’s Talk About Body Image
I sit upon my high horse on this issue, because I am amply blessed. My 17-year-old twin daughters have remarkably healthy self-images. They do not struggle with eating disorders, nor do they feign them because they believe eating disorders are cool or trendy.
My daughters eat healthy and hearty, work out regularly and do not think it’s “normal” to look like the stick figure models you see in most magazines. They are proud of their muscles and proud of their curves. They have no interest in attempting to obtain the sickeningly unattainable. However, they are not the average teenage girl.
A few birthdays ago, I recall (vividly) watching one of our teenage partygoers agonize over a single potato chip. This young woman was hyper-thin, pale and evidently lacking in basic nutrition. Regardless, she insisted that eating a single chip would catastrophically affect her daily caloric intake -an intake set at fewer 1,000 calories per day, so that she could “keep her body” and “not get fat”.
While this case may be an extreme one, it is closer to the typical teenager’s view of their body. I know, because I listened in on sleepover chatter for over 17 years. There is an obsession among teens today with being sickeningly skinny.
Young women today are constant pressure from society, their mothers and the men of the world to look a very specific way. Many starve themselves into contention, buy diet pills to fit the mold and abuse their minds and bodies in the process, causing long-term physical and psychological damage.
What I Think About It All
Instead of idolizing the famished figures of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan or Mary Kate Olsen, and instead of striving for some kind of perceived “perfection”, I believe in holding the media accountable for the messages they are sending to our daughters. I do this by not patronizing the Cosmopolitans and fashion magazines of the world, making it clear that I do not subscribe to an unrealistic “standard” of beauty. If more people did the same, these elitists might just get the message.
If you ask me, today’s young women need more role models like Jennifer Lawrence, and we (as their parents) need to keep our daughters hungry for higher standards when it comes to fashion, entertainment and what goes into their minds and their bodies.
What do you do to keep your daughter’s body image healthy and her mind fueled with salubrious thoughts?
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