This is a real thing in the world.

[Content Note: Fat hatred and shaming; body policing.]

Yesterday, actor Keanu Reeves arrived at the Cannes Film Festival looking like he weighed slightly more than he does usually. This was, naturally, a Major News Story, with pop culture commentators wondering, "What happened to Keanu?" and engaging in all sorts of reprehensible body policing and fat shaming. But US Weekly really managed to stand out as especially despicable, among a sea of contemptible stories:

screencap of an US Weekly story headlined 'Keanu Reeves Looks Bloated at Cannes Film Festival' accompanied by a picture of Keanu Reeves

Before I get into the content of this garbage article, I want to observe that "looks bloated" is often used as a synonym for "appears to have gained some weight," and they are not the same thing. Bloating can be caused by and is often a symptom of illness; it can also be a side-effect for the treatment of illness. So can weight gain (and weight loss). Commenting on someone "looking bloated" is often not merely fat-hating, but eliding illness, disability, and/or treatment for either/both.

Actress Kathleen Turner famously weathered nasty commentary about her weight gain and rumors about drug addiction and alcoholism for years before disclosing that she had rheumatoid arthritis, the steroids prescribed for which caused changes in her appearance. Not everyone who "looks bloated" has "let themselves go," as haughtily sniffed by the body-policing tyrants who believe we owe them conformance to beauty standards to indulge their delicate eyes, so easily offended by the obligation to gaze at imperfection.

I have no knowledge of Keanu Reeves' health, nor is it any of my business. I also don't give a fuck that he (might have) gained a few pounds and wouldn't even be talking about it were I not compelled by a metric fuckton of fat hatred. The US Weekly article begins:
Whoa! Keanu Reeves, 48, was spotted at Cannes looking quite different from the slim-hipped looker he was a decade ago. The actor, whose last hit movie was in 2003, which saw the release of both The Matrix Revolutions and Something's Gotta Give, is at the French film festival to promote his directorial debut, The Man of Tai Chi, but he didn't seem quite ready for the spotlight on Sunday, May 19.

Wearing baggy jeans, a gray V-neck tee, and a linen blazer, the former hunk sported stubble, shaggy hair, and a noticeably bloated appearance as he stepped off the yacht "Odessa" in the French Riviera.

The next day, Reeves cleaned up, thankfully, for his movie's photocall. Dressed in a black blazer and navy tee, the actor looked groomed, clean-shaven, and more like the actor audiences first swooned for in Speed.
Wow. That is a lot of bullying horseshit to pack into three paragraphs. The piece then includes a picture of Reeves looking pretty much like his usual self the next day.

(And the "random unflattering picture" used in service to body policing narratives and/or fat-shaming and/or reproductive policing and/or plastic surgery spotting, etc. that's all the rage in pop culture media these days is a whole other post entirely.)

I hate a lot about all the gross body policing fuckery packed into this story, but perhaps most of all I hate that "thankfully." Thankfully he cleaned up for us to spare us all the agony of looking at his grotesque self! It's not just the shitty judgment of his appearance, but the implicit expectation that we are somehow entitled to have Keanu Reeves look a certain way for us. That is so fucking vile. THAT IS SO FUCKING VILE.

Keanu Reeves is a 48-year-old agency-bearing human being who has the goddamned right to look however the fuck he wants to look. He doesn't owe the public a thing, least of all a promise to never change, never age, never diverge from whatever arbitrary benchmark separates "hunk" from "former hunk." I can't believe these are sentences I am typing in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and thirteen because our "civilized" culture still doesn't fucking understand the basic concept of autonomous choice, nor the simple principle of mind your own fucking business and stop bullying people for a pastime.

Fuck. FUCK. Fuck.

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