I remember awhile ago reading an article about the stunning and inimitably interesting Liv Tyler, in which she recounted being told over and over that she was “too fat.” It was enough to make me want to scream on her behalf—and on behalf of all the women in the entertainment business who don’t have the wherewithal, luxury, self-esteem, or whatever it is that Tyler has that makes her respond to such insanity with a resolute, “Fuck off.”

Hardly a week goes by without Mr. Shakes or I gasping at a photo of some Hollywood starlet who suddenly looks as though she’s just escaped an internment camp, trading in womanly curves for jutting collarbones. The truly luscious Kate Winslet of Heavenly Creatures and (ugh) Titanic is now dreadfully thin. Joan Cusack looks absolutely scary in her new role as a skeletal pitchperson for some phone company. Christina Ricci looks likely to collapse from malnutrition at any moment.

There are, of course, women who are naturally this thin, but they don’t look gaunt and disproportionate. Their heads don’t appear to be oversized orbs floating above emaciated bodies.

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It was with both amusement and sadness that I regarded this piece from 14, who runs the blog Gallery of the Absurd. Her commentary on the absurdly thin is spot-on, if painfully ironic.

In the run-up to Batman & Robin, there was a non-stop deluge of stories about how Alicia Silverstone had gained egregious amounts of weight, how the wardrobe team had to refit her costume because she was too fat to fit into it, how her career was over because she had become such a hideous heifer. The director, Joel Schumacher, was disgusted by the press. I remember at the time reading that he said something like, “What is this girl’s big sin—that she ate some pizza?” Eventually, the roar got so loud, he started lashing out at the journalists who continued to harp on the issue.

Schumacher, who also directed "The Client" and "A Time to Kill," was angry during the making of "Batman & Robin" when gossip writers made a big deal about Batgirl Alicia Silverstone's brief weight gain.

"It was horrible. I thought it was very cruel," Schumacher says. "She was a teenager who gained a few pounds -- like all of us do at certain times. I would confront female journalists and I'd say, 'With so many young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia, why are you crucifying this girl?"'
Why only female journalists, I don’t know (where they the only ones asking about it?), but the point is still salient. Famous women who are well within normal weight ranges are routinely accused of being “too fat.” Karen Carpenter, who died from anorexia, famously developed the obsession with her weight after being dubbed by Billboard as “Richard's chubby sister.” The emphasis on bony-thinness has no regard for health, nor, in many cases, the youth and beauty that is meant to be the staple of stars, as apple-round cheeks are dispatched in favor of a hollowed-out look, indicative of aging women. One of the most popular new plastic surgery procedures is fat deposits in the cheeks, to replace what women naturally lose during the aging process. Now, however, it’s increasingly being done on younger and younger women, who have prematurely aged themselves by losing more weight than is appropriate for their frames.

When woman are overweight, there is much hand-wringing concern about their health, but in reality, it’s little more than a cover for sizism. It’s their appearance to which one is reacting. If women’s health was such a concern, surely there would be as great an outcry over women who starve themselves and rely on plastic surgery to give the appearance of youth and health of which extreme weight loss has robbed them. Surely, there would be more concern about the message being sent to impressionable girls who seek to emulate their idols.

After being barraged by negative stories about her weight gain, Silverstone noted to Fashion Wire Daily:

I've never been heavy. What really hurts is, when they say that, I know I have a lot of young fans. So for them to go, “Wait a second. Alicia Silverstone is fat? Then what the hell am I?”

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