If Jennifer Lawrence is Weight Shamed, What About the Rest of Us?

jennifer lawrencejennifer lawrenceAs many of us know well, weight is a really tricky topic. Though we know that we are so much more than a number on the scale, deep down that number still has power over us. It plays mind games with us. It taunts us.

And while we really do know that we are more than a number on a scale, outside forces often play mind games with us as well. For some it may roll off their backs, for others it may propel them forward, and for others it may sting indefinitely.

Though she starred in The Hunger Games and won an Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, even Jennifer Lawrence is still jarred when reminded about someone who called her fat. In fact, she was apparently once told that she had to lose weight or she would be fired from a role. She tells Harper's Bazaar U.K. in their November issue, "I was hurt. It doesn't matter what accolades you get. I know it'll never happen to me again. If anybody even tries to whisper the word 'diet', I'm like, 'You can go f-k yourself.'"

Well said, Jennifer. Good for you.

There are many factors that make up our appearance, from our genetics to our choices to our lifestyle. There are also many factors that make up how we feel about ourselves, from our family situation to issues from childhood and beyond. All of that plays into how we respond when others compliment or insult us.

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That is precisely why this whole weight shaming nonsense has got to stop. It is enough already. It was enough years ago. No actress, news reporter, singer, model, NFL cheerleader, salesperson, journalist, PTA president, or what-have-you should be told that they must lose weight, EVER. If people want to lose weight, they should do it for themselves, not for occupational reasons, and certainly not because they were shamed into it.

Recently I read The Shift by Tory Johnson. She faced a similar situation after it was suggested to her that she lose weight in order to maintain her role on TV with ABC. She was able to use that guilt as a spark for a life change. Though I commend her immensely for making her lifestyle healthier, I admire her more for her lack of resentment towards those who made her feel ashamed and for using her experience to help others.

Growing up, my parents mentioned several times that you never know what's going on behind someone else's closed doors. (Now I tell that to my children as well.) It was a great lesson about trying not to judge.

Instead of letting the scale, outside forces, or our own minds play games with us, how about we find a way to make progress by moving forward together? How about looking for role models who are strong and healthy physically and emotionally? (The kind of people who are willing to tell others to f-k themselves at the mention of the word 'diet', perhaps.) Let's look to female Olympians, professional athletes, or women we see at the gym. Or if you absolutely must look to an actress, how about Alison Sweeney, Jessica Biel, or Jennifer Hudson?

Let us consider what this all means for us as parents. How can we encourage young girls to be strong and healthy if they see us shaming other women or living and dying by the number on a scale? How can we raise boys to respect all women if our sons see this type of behavior from us?

Let's start by trying to remind ourselves and each other that we are so much more than a number on a scale. Shall we?

- By Jessica Cohen
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