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Would it be so wrong? | Manolo for the Big Girl

Would it be so wrong?

Seriously. If a slender, famous actress or singer would say in an interview:

“It’s really important to me, personally and professionally, to have as pleasing a body as possible, so I work really hard at it. I work out for an hour and a half every day, do 200 abdominal crunches daily, and am really, really careful about what I eat. It’s hard work and sometimes I wish I could relax about it, but in this business, a slender, toned body is a career asset. Plus I feel great, really fit and energetic, so it’s worth the work.”

Would that be so bad? Would anyone think any less of her? Would it mar her image in any way?

First, Star Jones has “weight loss surgery” of some undefined type, and for months tells us that she’s been doing pilates. Why not be honest? Why not say “this surgery carries a lot of risks, but I discussed it with my doctor and researched it thoroughly and decided that for me it was the best decision, for personal, health, and professional reasons. I wish I’d been able to lose weight by diet and exercise, but we all know how that goes – so I did what I needed to do, with the time, resources, and body that I have. I don’t expect anyone to applaud me for it. It was a personal decision.” Could anyone argue with that? Why lie? Why make women around the world think “If Star can do it, so can I,” when in fact Star did NOT “do it”? She did NOT do something that any woman can do if she puts her mind to it. She did something that any woman can do if she has the money AND is willing to take the very real risks of surgery. Remind me to tell you some time about the woman I met who suffered kidney failure and was in a coma for 2 months as a result of complications from her gastric bypass.

Now, Geri Halliwell tells People that the way she got these abs — which, in her words, “just pop” — a year and a half after giving birth,

geri_halliwell.jpg

is this:

“I never go on a diet – at all. I go for walks, a little bit of yoga. That’s it. I eat literally every two or three hours,” adding that she drinks “loads of water.”

Yeah, right, Geri. I have news for you: Even people with fast metabolisms and “skinny genes,” who stay thin with no effort, do not get toned with no effort. You are totally doing 1,000 crunches a day.

And, good for her! If she wants rock-hard abs and is willing to do 1,000 gazillion crunches a day to get there, then fantastic! We’re all for women reaching the goals which they set for themselves!

But what virtue is there in pretending that it’s all effortless? Why not tell the truth: That, yes, other women can get abs like that if they are willing and able to work out for hours every single day. That is, if they have the time, if they aren’t working long hours at the office and they have a nanny to look after the kids and a housekeeper to do the vacuuming and dusting. Or if they’ve decided that they will sacrifice other things in their lives — date night with their husbands, or girls’ night out, or a clean home, or sleep, or all of the above — to make the time, because having washboard abs is a priority for them, or simply because they really crave exercise.

It’s a legitimate decision to make time for reaching a personal goal. But what happens, when stars lie about how much work it takes, is that women’s inner voices say “if dieting and exercising is so easy for these entertainers, why is it so hard for me? I must be a lazy bum.”

You are not a lazy bum. Weight loss is not easy. They are lying. They had surgery or they work really, really hard.

That is all.

25 Responses to “Would it be so wrong?”

  1. Michele November 13, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    Francesca!
    You are so absolutely right. Frankly, if I were paid exceptionally well to be thin and had the staff to do it–personal assistant(s), cook, housekeeper, trainer–along with a fabulously equipped work out facility and regular access to designer couture, I might consider it. However, I prefer a diet that goes beyond caffeine, nicotine and celery in a life of good food, good wine, good friends and time to enjoy it all.

  2. dangermouse November 13, 2007 at 6:54 pm #

    Hear hear! My two sisters are tremendously fit, but both have made it their lives work.

    One is a personal trainer & aerobics instructor who literally works out as a job & since she constantly changes her routine to ensure she also gets a workout, that means she works out almost 30 hours a week. Plus, she attends tango class twice a week.

    The other is in the entertainment industry & she not only works out approximately four hours each day, but she also lives on a hyper-restrictive diet: she’s a carb-free vegan. (I think she lives off sweet potatoes & liquor – yes, I know liquor is a carb, but she apparently doesn’t).

    When I make it at least a part-time job, I can lose weight too — but, unless I maintain that level of commitment, each time I gain everything back & then some. Not worth it, when there are real dangers associated with massive weight gain/loss patterns (& not so much with healthy living at an overweight weight). Also not worth it if it means I have to sacrifice my degrees, family, career, and sanity. Especially since my career goals build towards a future, while my poor sisters are fighting against time…

  3. class-factotum November 13, 2007 at 7:58 pm #

    Oooh, this makes me mad! I work out six times a week, three days at boot camp run by a former Marine drill instructor (where I use 15-lb weights) and the other three walking or running (if I am not too lazy) eight miles.

    I look NOTHING like that woman! NOTHING! I still manage to eat more calories than I burn, but to be honest, that’s why I work out — so I can eat.

    You are so right — why don’t they just admit that they work for it? I read once that Meg Ryan lives on 1,400 calories a day and works out. No wonder she always looks cranky — she’s hungry all the time.

    This kind of figure comes from a lot of working out and not much eating.

  4. Angel November 13, 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    They don’t admit it because they want people to envy them. They want all the people out there working so hard to think, “wow, I’m jealous of her because she doesn’t have to work this hard and she looks like THAT”. It’s stupid. I never believe it. People don’t go about with practically 0% body fat by eating what they want and not exercising.

    Star Jones does work hard to maintain that tiny weight now. She did use the surgery to lose weight, but you DO NOT stay thin after gastric bypass by going back to your old habits. I’ve had a few friends that have had this surgery, lost lots of weight initially, but gained it back within 5 years. Why? Because they resorted to their old habits and slowly stretched their smaller stomach out. Also, they started eating fattening foods. Gastric bypass takes a lifetime commitment. Most people don’t buy this when they have the surgery so they end up right back where they started.

  5. Fashionbigot November 13, 2007 at 9:09 pm #

    Honey, that’s a very bad photoshopping job right there. Her abs *do not* look like that. You can tell by the way the grey areas are in her “tone”. the first time I saw that picture, I literally said “WTF, they couldn’t afford a better photoshopper?”. And i’m not second guessing, i used to do graphic design and “airbrushing” on photographs for a living.

  6. La Petite Acadienne November 13, 2007 at 11:21 pm #

    That is why I almost fell off my chair when reading about Jennifer Garner discussing her post-baby weight loss:

    But, Garner says with a laugh, “I realized (it) was not going to magically fall off like I’d heard in this fantasy world. So I had to get my biscuit onto a treadmill like anyone else.

    Or when Sharon Stone said that her fantasy food was mashed potatoes, and that she missed being able to eat “stuff like that”. Ladies — if you needed to bust your buns to get down to a certain size, be frank about it! We’ll love you for it.

  7. The Jimbles November 14, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    Remember back in the day, when Janet Jackson released ‘Love Will Never Do Without You’ and she showed off her kickin’ new body in the video? She was interviewed not long after that and she actually admitted that it was hard work to look like that! She said she worked out for almost 3 hours a day and couldn’t eat a lot of her favorite things, which stunned me, considering that she’d risen to fame partially on her dance skills. But (and this was the part that I loved) that she so enjoyed the way she looked and felt, that the hard work and sacrifice was worth it.

    I’ve never seen another celebrity interview where the subject was so candid about what it takes to look so good. And although my tastes no longer encompass Miss Jackson’s work, I still have a lot of respect for her as a result of that admission.

  8. de November 14, 2007 at 10:07 am #

    For starters, Geri has photos around the ‘net of her with her personal trainer and at the gym, working out for hours a day. In fact, the minute they said there MIGHT be a reunion tour, she was seen going for even MORE exercise than usual.
    And by lots of water I think she means ONLY water. But I digress.

    I too, much like The Jimbles, always admired Janet Jackson for being honest and saying “these abs took 6 hrs a day of dance and exercise!” and “yah, when I’m not on tour I balloon up and eat like a pig…so?” I do sometimes worry about her health when she balloons but then gets back down so quickly, but she does it the *HARD* way and so I can’t really give her too much grief, and she certainly doesn’t lie about it.

    I always have much more respect for women AND men who admit that its hard work to be in shape and that they struggle to make sure it happens for them in the business.

  9. Toby Wollin November 14, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    I also think that part of it is that many women believe that they have to make things “look” easy. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I think part of it is the “What, this schmata?” issue.

  10. dangermouse November 14, 2007 at 11:40 am #

    Sorry for ringing in twice on this issue, but I think I failed to accurately articulate what is fundamentally my point: That when your life is oriented towards achieving a goal, especially when you are fully immersed within an ethos, it is likely you may look upon the things you do to stay within that culture as being “not enough”.

    I think these women we deride really do think they don’t work out much because they recall the days they slacked & not the days they worked. Or they see someone else & think “well, I don’t work out or diet as much as her!” Pretty soon working out a lot (in our book) is hardly at all in theirs. It seems it’s just another case of environment defining what’s normal — what is “enough”.

  11. Dissent November 14, 2007 at 12:17 pm #

    Mostly I agree with this post. But I have a theory of Hollywood “natural selection” that there are far more women with skinny genes and fast metabolisms in Hollywood than in the regular population. Sure, most of them are lying when they say, “Oh, I just drink a lot of water and take walks.” But some are not.

  12. Twistie November 14, 2007 at 12:25 pm #

    I think that does enter into it, Dangermouse, but it doesn’t cover things like trying to convince us that weight-reduction surgery is really Pilates or that rock-hard abs can be acheived through long walks and a touch of yoga alone.

    I think Toby Wollin is more on the right track. We’re often taught as women that taking pride in our accomplishments is somehow terribly wrong of us. Add to that the fact that agents and producers, etc. tend to coach stars to sell the dream of simply leading a charmed life, and voila! It becomes nearly impossible to be honest about nearly anything.

    Famous people are packaged to be objects of envy and aspiration. If they start admitting they struggle with weight and fitness as much as – actually, usually far more than – we do, it’s feared the gloss will come off. How many people have derided Oprah Winfrey for her very public struggles with weight? If you were Star Jones and saw all the hurtful headlines and late-night TV talk show jokes about Oprah, wouldn’t you want to find a way to spin a sudden weight-loss so that more people would admire you (a bit of work at exercise) rather than admit you can’t do it that way?

    I’m not saying she should have lied by any means. She shouldn’t have. OTOH, I can see a good chunk of her motivation, and can’t entirely blame her, either. It’s going to take time and a lot of effort on the parts of a lot of people to change cultural assumptions about weight and body image. Not everyone will have the intestinal fortitude to stand on the front lines.

  13. Chicklet November 14, 2007 at 12:47 pm #

    I, too, wish more celebrities, but especially female ones, admitted they work really hard to get those bodies. Sometimes you’ll read about a tough regimen an actor or actress undertook for a movie, especially if that movie involves the study of martial arts and/or a huge weight loss (Christian Bale in The Machinist), but otherwise, we’re supposed to think every performer has been gifted a fantastic body by little pixies or something, and it’s annoying.

  14. Dowdydiva November 14, 2007 at 3:18 pm #

    The recent Latifah article in People found her being very honest about her regimen – which is a stellar example of “fit at any size”. I thought this was very cool.

    My feelings are either don’t talk about how you maintain your body or be completely honest about it. Don’t muddy the waters with lies and half-truths. I am quite tired of actresses saying “oh I have an active metabolism”, and then ten years later, they ‘fess up to bulimia.

  15. Cat November 14, 2007 at 4:43 pm #

    I once saw an interview with Gwen Stefanie during which she said something like, “I work my ass off to look as good as I do. It’s really hard for me, and I want girls to know that.” I thought that was very cool.

  16. queenofalot November 14, 2007 at 11:50 pm #

    I agree that folks should be honest about how they are staying fit or losing weight. As someone who had gastric bypass only 4 month ago I don’t like to discuss it because some people believe its the easy way out. I would like to go on record saying its not. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do both mentally and physically. However, I knew this going into it and still made the decision and eventhough I don’t like to I tell people why I’m losing weight I do it anyways. I’ve had to relearn what and how to eat and start an exercise regimen. I will never have a Hollywood body but I’ve already lost 75 pounds and already feel like a hottie. But this comes with sacrifices just like anyone else who diets or works out obsessively.

  17. shiloh November 14, 2007 at 11:57 pm #

    Those of the genetically blessed and fast metabolism are of a much smaller percentage than what the entertainment industry would have us believe. They might not gain weight easily but it takes effort to be toned, and more effort to get that ‘ripped’ look with the abs and things.

    I wish more of these people would be truthful on the effort that goes into it. Because it creates a stereotype that big people are lazy slobs who spend all their time eating and lolling in front of the TV, with the remote in one hand, soda within easy reach adn a bag of potato crisps on their laps.

    It’s hard work, it takes time – that I don’t have at the end of a long day, there are many simple but to me important pleasures to give up – good food, time with family and friends.

    There was this article I read of body weight as social status. The ‘effortlessly’ thin entertainer (usually a big lie) perpetuates the myth.

  18. Bridey November 15, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    If they admit they have to work to look like that, they could raise the issue that someday they may not be able or willing to work that hard and could become fat. Much better, career-prospects-wise, to pretend it’s effortless and they couldn’t be fat if they wanted to.

    I also take mild exception to the idea, much expressed here in different ways, that if fat people really did all the “right things,” we’d become thin people. I don’t think the reason people are fat is that — in this culture! — they don’t try hard enough to be thin.

  19. AnneFran November 15, 2007 at 4:17 pm #

    Jennie Garth in US Magazine this week talks about her Dancing With The Stars “makeover.” It’s pretty refreshing, as she talks about how much work she is doing and that is the reason she’s lost weight. Also, under on of the captions in her “fatter” phase, they have a quote from her something along the lines of “I love my body, at any weight. When I’m chubbier, I love touching my love handles.” When asked about whose body she admires on the show, she mentions one of the dancers, but then counters, “I have to remember she’s 19!”

    So, she’s not only honest about working really, really hard, but pretty body-positive if you ask me. Such a better example compared to the Trista “Thin by New Year” article a few weeks ago.

  20. bonnie-ann black November 15, 2007 at 4:32 pm #

    the scariest part about Star Jones was that she lost weight so fast, it really made her look ill — and when she kept saying she hadn’t had surgery, she was just dieting, all i could think was “Cancer!” even after she ‘fessed up, i think she looks like one of those egyptian mummies… her gums are shrunk back around her teeth, her skin looks weird and pasty… i used to think she was attractive, now, she gives me the shudders. she looks like a black joan rivers — and i’ve seen joan rivers. in person. terrifying.

  21. glamour-geek November 17, 2007 at 7:44 pm #

    Anyone else remember when Jamie Lee Curtis released the “before” and “after” photos of herself? The “before” was without makeup, lighting, posing, airbrushing, etc. The “after” was with the hair, makeup, lighting, posing, high heels, etc. Same dress in both photos. The industry was horrified that she ‘fessed up to all that goes into those photos and the hours and people involved, but JLC wanted people to know she woke up looking like a regular person, too. I’ve always admired her for putting herself (and her rep in the industry) out there and taking the risk of the backlash.

    Last year, I lost 7% body fat (and no weight, ladies…just exchanged fat for muscle) in a 5-day-a-week hour-long women’s bootcamp that I did for 4 months. Loved the results. For the first 2 weeks, I was exhausted and hurt everywhere. Well, I started a new job and I’m back to square one. What did I gain: the knowledge of what it takes to get there and the confidence to know that if I want to put in the time and effort, even I can get the results. Never had results like that from a trainer, either… The best part was my triglycerides dropping like a rock, since it’s a pre-indicator for diabetes, and my fasting glucose moderating. I have one adult-onset parent so it matters.

  22. Laura November 17, 2007 at 9:40 pm #

    Bridey, I can certainly appreciate the sentiment that overweight people in American culture today take too much flack for it being ‘their fault’ or the idea that the reason they’re overweight is due to laziness, etc. But there is something to be said for the hard work it takes to counter all sorts of cultural cues encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, and generally weight gain as a result. I think because so many people are so busy with work, kids, home, and family these days, it’s all too easy to cave in to the number of lifestyle conveniences our society has to offer. Don’t have time to cook a healthy balanced meal? Order a pizza. No time to walk/ride your bike to the store? Just drive.

    Being able to forego some of these conveniences in favor of doing some things the hard way or working gym time into an already packed schedule and achieving the desired result of a physically healthier body is something to be admired. And that makes it all the more aggravating when these celebrities don’t own up to their hard work, especially when they have the ability to set aside time, money, and resources to do the work and look the way they do.

  23. bluebird November 25, 2007 at 6:52 am #

    That, yes, other women can get abs like that if they are willing and able to work out for hours every single day.

    This is so true. I used to row competitively, which involves two intense trainings a day, like 2 hours each. And I never looked like that. I was fit as hell, and really thin, but I didn’t look like that.
    My point is, I know what loads of exercise is, and how it makes you look. And it’s a long way short of how those women look.

  24. redneckprincess November 25, 2007 at 7:39 pm #

    As Laura says “I think because so many people are so busy with work, kids, home, and family these days, it’s all too easy to cave in to the number of lifestyle conveniences our society has to offer. Don’t have time to cook a healthy balanced meal? Order a pizza. No time to walk/ride your bike to the store? Just drive.”

    This obviously adds to the weight issue in our country, but also I believe that money has a lot to do with that. What costs the most in the store? Fruits, Veggies, and other good for you foods. The least? potato chips, frozen pizza etc. . .As a single mom living on a small income, money is a big factor in what I serve my 7 year old son. . .that said, fruits and veggies are important and are on our table, but when I buy somthing for just myself for lunch–cheap is the way I go and almost always ends up being not healthy.

    I agree that women should just speak up and say “Hey, it’s hard to have a body like mine, but it’s important to me” we as women would cheer them for it and young girls looking at them on tv, the net and in magazines would maybe hear the message and be less body obsessed and their may be less instances of anorexia, cutting, suicide and other horrible things young girls do to themselves today. . .