A few days ago, I had a proud parent moment when my 16-year-old daughter grabbed the latest issue of People magazine—yes, we subscribe—and complained about the cover story celebrating actress Jennie Garth’s 30-pound weight loss as if she’d once been overweight.
I grabbed the issue and agreed that Garth looked better before her weight loss (and did an internal happy dance that my daughter wasn’t aspiring to reach such unrealistic proportions). While Garth is gorgeous at any weight, she looked gaunt and tired in one of the candid recent snapshots inside the magazine, as if she’d recently been through a harrowing divorce.
Oh right, she has.
(Full disclosure: I briefly met Garth a few years ago at an American Heart Association dinner during her “before photo” days and thought her figure back then was flawless.)
Celebrating celebrities who go from thin to thinner is nothing new for women’s magazines, but I found the timing of the People issue interesting. It came on the heels of Wisconsin anchorwoman Jennifer Livingston’s public crusade against a viewer who criticized her in an email for being overweight and setting a bad example for her viewers.
When I read about Livingston, I wondered why discerning viewers hadn’t also called out other TV personalities in angry letters for projecting anorexic-looking physiques on the air. Aren’t they setting just as bad an example?
On the other hand, maybe women in the public domain should simply stop making their weight an issue. Do they need to celebrate their successful diet as if it’s an accomplishment on par with winning a Nobel prize or, heck, an Emmy?
Lady Gaga’s recent 25-pound weight gain was also featured recently in People and a host of other magazines—with some questioning her choice of outfits to hide her growing hips and waistline. The pop star fought back by declaring that she’s happy with her body at any size, also revealing that she’s trying hard to overcome the anorexia and bulimia she’s had since she was 15. She even posted photos of her curvy self in a bra and underwear to show that she’s not trying to cover up her new physique.
This inspired size 12 model Robyn Lawley to write a post on the Daily Beast emphasizing that she wouldn’t want to be a size 0 anyway and that when she finally embraced her “true weight” she felt “whole and complete.” Landing that Ralph Lauren plus-size modeling contract also didn’t hurt.
I’d love for my daughter to see the Lawley and Lady Gaga inspiration stories on the cover of People. Perhaps then we can finally move on and stop talking about body weight as news.Deborah Kotz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.