After a post-Wizards of Waverly Place Rumspringa that included a rehab stint, a painfully extended relationship with the world’s whitest butt, and a very naughty spring break, Selena Gomez is seriously focusing on her career. And like any 22-year-old who wants to make millions of dollars by layering her fake orgasm noise over a techno beat, Gomez must first be reduced to a number on a 1-to-10 hotness scale.
During a recent appearance on AMP Radio’s TJ Show, Gomez was inexplicably asked to rank herself on the attractiveness spectrum. Presumably, this gross focus on Gomez’s looks was an apology to listeners who had to endure an entire segment of listening to a young woman’s thoughts and feelings, robbed of the opportunity to be distracted by her shiny hair and Hollywood bod. Gomez diligently responded, “I would say, like, [on] a premiere day, I would be a good 9. And then on my every day I feel like a 6. Gosh that sounds so bad. I feel like a 6 or a 7.”
Gomez’s answer is the sort of poignant Hollywood moment that makes you sadder and sadder the more that you sit with it—like an Amy Winehouse song, or an Amanda Bynes tweet. Picture Gomez, an excited young actress-singer, sitting down for an interview that she assumes will consist of substantive questions worthy of a multi-hyphenate. Instead, Gomez must resign herself to telling the world that she thinks she’s kind of pretty. It’s the equivalent of a majestic lion being captured and shipped off to a zoo, where its purpose in life becomes sleeping, pooping, and posing for selfies. This line of questioning doesn’t just dumb Gomez down, reducing her to a talking number in stilettos; it also reinforces the notion that the bodies of female celebrities are public property. Gomez doesn’t stop to ask why her hotness, self-rated or otherwise, is at all pertinent to her burgeoning career. That’s because Gomez, like any Hollywood starlet, has had her appearance publicly monitored long before most of her peers opened their first MySpace accounts.
Body policing and shaming might be a national pastime but Hollywood is the big leagues. A show business veteran like Gomez knows that appearance is everything—but her interviewer’s question has the added effect of telling young Gomez fans that every woman is only the sum of her number. Because if there’s one thing that young girls need, it is to be reminded that looks are everything and even glamorous, successful female celebrities feel like unworthy, chunky balls of unfuckability without a full hair and makeup team.
Obviously, if Selena Gomez feels like a 6, we should all just kill ourselves. If you needed an extra push toward the Tylenol (or the plastic surgeon), just remember that people have been calling Selena Gomez fat for months. No, seriously. Back in March, Gomez was linked to famous sound-maker Zedd. In a pseudo-celebratory article, Hollywood Life praised Zedd’s rumored acceptance of Gomez’s “curvier” body, proclaiming, “Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes,” and claiming that Zedd “is obsessed” with his girlfriend’s 10-pound weight gain. To recap, this online bastion of body positivity is claiming that Selena Gomez, a tiny woman who now looks like a tiny woman who swallowed an apple, is an emblem of weight tolerance in Hollywood. Sure, “beauty comes in all shapes and sizes,” but are we honestly supposed to believe that Selena Gomez’s body type is on the thicker, more “curvaceous” end of that spectrum of acceptable beauty? Furthermore, are we being asked to applaud Zedd as some sort of knight in shining armor for actually being attracted to a woman who, despite being about five units of Zedd thinner than the average American woman, looks like she might have eaten something solid in the past year? Yes, yes we are.
In April, Gomez posted a series of bikini pics while vacationing in Mexico with her gal pals. Naturally, gossip sites felt the need to comment on Gomez’s aforementioned 10-pound weight gain, under the guise of tearing down “haters” who fat-shamed Gomez in her Instagram comments. Because online trolls dissecting 22-year-old women’s bodies aren’t just normalized, they’re also newsworthy. Citing Gomez’s “great figure” and “best assets” failed to distract from the fact that grown-up columnists were doing pro bono work as Selena Gomez’s personal weight watchers. The totally supportive, 100 percent-loving media scrutiny of Gomez’s bikini body inspired the star to post another swimsuit shot, captioned, “I love being happy with me y’all #theresmoretolove.”
Lil’ Actress Abigail Breslin also came to Gomez’s “defense,” publishing a Tumblr post in which she asked, “How are young girls supposed to grow up normally and not feel bad about themselves and not develop eating disorders if it’s literally national headline news that a THIN girl may or may not have put on a few pounds, and YET still remains THIN?” With that one question, Breslin offered a more substantive commentary on female celebrity culture than the entirety of E! Online. Later in April, Gomez herself feuded with one of the aforementioned haters on her Instagram page, calling a troll “disgusting” for ordering the star to stop eating junk food and start working out. She continued, “I’M IN the business and I could care less about what ‘they’ or you say I should look like. I don’t need to do anything other than love myself, take care of my work, fans, family and friends.”
Gomez and Breslin’s defiance (and not so subtle subtweets) aside, the fact that there was any sort of scandal at all is probably disheartening to any Gomez fan who weighs in at over 110 pounds. The twisted moral of the story is clear: In Hollywood, 10 pounds equals “curves”—and celebrating a young starlet’s “curves” only brings more attention to the fact that anything other than anorexia deviates from the accepted celebrity norm.
Despite Gomez’s commendable desire to ignore dysmorphic standards of beauty, the “hotness rating” fiasco reiterates how hard it is for a female star to transcend demeaning celebrity coverage. Gomez’s overly modest response was equally telling. If Gomez had, god forbid, pronounced herself a perfect 10, she would’ve likely elicited a Mean Girls-style chorus of “So you agree…you think you’re really pretty?” As lovely as it would be to hear a young woman act like she’s genuinely in love with her body, admitting you’re a goddess simply isn’t good PR. So in addition to avoiding 10 extra pounds like the plague, female celebrities are expected to be modest and approachable—sexy vixen meets girl-next-door. We’re supposed to tell ’em “I woke up like this”: with sun-kissed highlights, a flat stomach, a compliant attitude, and absolutely no appetite. Unfortunately, no face, no matter how clownishly contoured, and no body, no matter how unnaturally thin, will ever stop interviewers from taking time out of a young starlet’s busy day to ask her how hot she thinks she is. But don’t worry too much about your answer, ladies—your opinions aren’t as important as your “curves.”