Dearest Jennifer Lawrence, we really did want to be your best friend.
We drooled over every photo and crazy anecdote from your nights out with your real BFF, Amy Schumer.
It goes without saying, we loved how you trip in the adorable romantic-comedy way where clumsiness is the one flaw in the hot heroine.
But really, J. Law, don’t try to tell us you’re not skinny or imply your body doesn’t look fabulous in pretty much everything.
In the latest issue of Glamour, Lawrence spoke with editor-in-chief Cindi Leive about, among other things, her approach to style and dressing.
“And there are things that are made for skinny people—like a lot of embroidery, or it covers a lot—and those make me look fat,” Lawrence said without, as far as one can tell, a bit of irony—in a profile that was accompanied by a photo of her in a black bikini with nary an ounce of excess flesh.
Reading Lawrence talk about “skinny people” as if she were not part of that slim coterie is a bit infuriating.
Of course, she is only playing the annoyingly common female celebrity card of saying “I’m not thin! I don’t have a perfect physique!”
Demi Lovato similarly professed her bodily imperfection with a nude and, as she so carefully stressed, “unretouched” spread for Vanity Fair in October. She said it was about “letting go, being authentic, saying I don’t give a fuck and this is who I am.”
But, as I noted when the photos went viral, such a bold declaration presupposes someone would be criticizing her body or that the way she looks dramatically challenges our conventional standards for female beauty. Lovato’s body does not.
Lovato has a history of battling with eating disorders and, thus, there is something more genuine about her declaration. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that for many others who struggle with their own body insecurities, watching Lovato “make peace” with her gorgeous figure only stirs up the flaws we find, by comparison, with our own (or at least, it does for me).
Also, not only do such claims of imperfection often reek of false self-modesty, but they are insulting because they’re often presented by the celebrity as a way to make herself relatable to a “normal” female audience: “I’m just like you plebeians with love handles!” is what these implausibly, professionally hot women are usually trying to say.
What was even more disappointing about Lawrence’s comment distancing herself from “skinny” people is she used her not-skinny status as the justification for showing off her enviable “tits and an ass.” She explained to Leive, “I have to show the lumps. If you have boobs, you have to show, like, ‘These are boobs. This isn’t cellulite.’ [Laughs] Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
No, there isn’t anything wrong with cellulite, J. Law. Apparently, 90 percent of women have it at some point.
In Lawrence’s, Lovato’s, and the whole slew of indisputably hot celebrity women who feel compelled to profess they don’t meet all the stringent conventions of female hotness, there is certainly a pressure on them to seem “relatable.”
It’s the same reason they play up the chaos and messiness of motherhood when they have children, rarely admitting they have a staff of nannies and assistant to shepherd their progeny.
Hollywood sells our icons, especially women, as likeable, self-deprecating, and, often, deferential. Not for nothing has Us Weekly’s “Stars—They’re Just Like Us” spreads become one of the most popular and clichéd celebrity tabloid features.
Lawrence and Co. may be well-intentioned in their efforts to embrace imperfections.
Many women have a tendency to self-deprecate, psychiatrist Anna Fels argued in her book Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives.
In her review of the book for Bloomberg Business in 2012, Michelle Conlin described Fels’s logic that “if one is to be seen as feminine, one must be selflessly unambitious. And to be unfeminine—too masculine, in other words--is to invite savage personal attacks, intense scrutiny, and conjectures about one’s sexuality.”
Certainly, women in Hollywood are not immune from this pressure, even if one would hope that powerful celebrity women power could be a little bolder. Lawrence, after all, has built her celebrity brand on candor.
For Lawrence or Lovato to say they love bodies because they are perfect, rather than the friendlier “in spite of their imperfections” would be refreshing in its own way. Instead, whether intended or not, they feign flaws, which comes off as patronizing.
And Lawrence continued to exude false modesty in the Glamour interview, claiming she was shocked people paid attention to her.
“What do I do? What do I do? I’m just a girl, sitting in front of the world and asking them to forgive her for speaking,” Lawrence said. There’s no need to ask for forgiveness, J. Law—and no need to pretend that you’ve got anything to apologize for.