Wednesday, January 6, 2016

We're Mad About the Ashley Benson "Too Fat For Hollywood" Story For The Wrong Reasons

ashley benson too fat for hollywood
photo via @itsashbenzo

I'm trying something a bit different today: An op-ed guest post! It all started yesterday when my high-school-and-college BFF Dana (who you may already know from her hugely successful site, Possessionista) posted a Facebook status linking to a story about actress Ashley Benson getting passed over for a role because she had been deemed too heavy. It has since been covered everywhere, but Dana and I agree that the stories have really shown outrage at the wrong thing. I loved Dana's unique take on it, so I asked her to share it here. Here it is, in her own words.

Every morning I wake up to the same ritual: a cup of coffee, my children re-enacting the Hunger Games, and an update of everything I need to know in the world courtesy of Facebook. Yesterday, while there, I stumbled on an article on Refinery29. It was an interview with Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson, and the big news was that she once lost out on a role because she was "too fat."

Naturally, I clicked on the link hoping to find out who the role went to, but that's never revealed. Instead, the starlet laments that she cried for 30 minutes. "I'm a size two!" she defends. 

And that's where she loses me. 

Look, I am not going to pretend that Hollywood (and its consumers, present company included) doesn’t suffer from a serious case of celebrity dysmorphia. Our female stars seemingly have two options: be skinny or be funny. (But let's face it, even if you're funny, Hollywood usually prefers that you're skinny, too.) 

I absolutely feel for these women. Without killer genes and a permanent juice cleanse, it's almost impossible for them to win. But the women in this industry aren't doing themselves--or the cause--any favors by using their tiny dress size as a defense. 

Because the unspoken meaning of "But I'm a size two!" might as well be "Geez, it's not like I'm a size 12."

We're supposed to find this story crazy solely because she's skinny, and not because women shouldn't be judged for their size. I have to wonder if this story would be getting the same headlines if she had been a little heavier. What size would she have had to have been for us to think, "Okay, Hollywood, maybe you had a point this time. She could stand to lose a few."

Can you imagine if George Clooney did an interview using his suit size as a defense for Brad Pitt beating him out for the role in Thelma and Louise? (For the record, I can't find any information about George Clooney or Brad Pitt's suit sizes online, but I did find Beyonce, Rihanna, Jessica Simpson, Mindy Kaling, and Miranda Lambert's dress sizes. Shocking, I know.)

When I showed this article to Alyssa, her first question was, "Who is Ashley Benson?," which made me realize that my peers aren't Benson's fanbase. They skew far younger, and far more impressionable than I. Benson knows this too. She posted a picture of herself on Instagram, sans makeup and a face full of zit cream, to reinforce that she's just like them.

At least those of them who are a size two.

Female actors aren't to blame for our culture of unrealistic expectations of other women (and of ourselves). But using size as a defense still sends a message that we're only as good as the tag inside our dresses.

Benson has every right to be angry that a role went to someone thinner than her, but not because she's a size two. She--and, really, any woman of any size--should be angry that an acting role even came down to size at all. Because a role, like any job, should go to the person who is the most qualified.

And I shouldn't need to know your dress size to understand that.

_________________________________________________________________________

What do you guys think? I know we all agree that Hollywood body standards are insane, but are actresses adding to the problem when they use their dress size as a defense? Why do we even need to know their dress size? And why do we care? Discuss below!

For more from Dana, you can read her beauty secrets here (they're really good!) and check out her (awesome, hilarious) blog here.

P.S.: And let me know what you think of the guest post thing. Do more? Never again? Be honest!

8 comments:

alex boutrous said...

Thank you! This was a fabulous guest post and provided an interesting perspective I hadn't thought a lot about. I am right in ashley benson's demographic (20 y/o female) and I was also rubber the wrong way about the size comment. Excellent post!

Theresa A said...

There has always been a difference between men and women in film and television. I like your point that you cannot find the suit size of A list Hollywood actors but can easily find sizes for female counterparts. Women are judged by their dress size and photos without make-up are considered 'shocking' and worthy of tabloids. It would be nice if we searched in vain for famous women's dress sizes and shots without make-up were considered beautiful.

WorkingMomMagic said...

What a great perspective on it.. I have never heard of her blog I am excited to follow now, thanks for sharing! :)

samantha wiggs said...

she said EXACTLY what we are all thinking! I read the Benson article the other day and scoffed at the size 2 comment. There is such an obsession with women sharing their dress sizes but it normally ranges from those who are extremely small sizes to the more extended sizes. It shouldn't matter if you are a size 0, 11, 33 whatever! be happy, be healthy, and be the best you can be!
samanthawiggs.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Totally not the point of this AT ALL, but..... 'sans makeup' my ass.

Hey y'all! said...

Yes. Every. Word. Well said, and thanks to you both.

Tessa and Mark wedding photos said...

Love Dana's thoughts. So true.

Unknown said...

So tacky for any woman to mention her size or weight! (A FB friend recently posted herself standing on a scale that said 104 lbs.! It got over 100 likes!) Yes, Hollywood & society are obsessed with women's weight. But on the flip side, I was rubbed the wrong way with Adele's response to designer Karl Lagerfeld's recent (& very typical of him) comment about Adele being too fat. He said he's sick of women sitting on their sofas eating potato chips, saying how skinny models are ugly. Adele replied, "I love to eat. I love food & I hate exercise. I'd rather be obese with a killer album than a skinny Nicole Richie." Great confidence, but she's only 27! What about when HBP, cholesterol, heart disease, & Diabetes kick in?? There needs to be some middle ground between the Size 2's and the Adele's...

Post a Comment