After including Zoe Saldana’s weight on the June cover of Allure magazine, the editors received a gigantic amount of backlash. Under the actresses’ name reads: “115 Pounds of Grit And Heartache,” an editorial move that other magazines and people considered tasteless and unnecessary. Yahoo’s omg! even stated that this decision was a major step backwards for a magazine that should be promoting positive body image, and by including Zoe’s weight, this not only did the opposite, but it opened the door to self-scrutiny and the stereotypical reinforcement of Hollywood’s expectations in beauty.
The thing is, I weigh more than Zoe Saldana. I’m totally okay with this. I saw that Allure included her weight on their cover, and I didn’t take offense to it. Hear me out. The magazine never intended to negatively impact its readers, nor was there any kind of indication that 115 is what every single girl and woman should weigh. After the internet exploded, Zoe defended Allure’s editorial team and commented that it would be a lie to deny or avoid how much she weighed. In fact, she has been thin-framed her entire life, and this isn’t something she has ever had control over or should feel shameful about. Meaning, Zoe is an allegedly healthy young woman who happens to be skinny. Allure also provided some further commentary, saying that her weight was meant to pose as a juxtaposition to her immense power, toughness and confidence. The entire article was centered on Zoe’s accomplishments as a talented young woman, not on her weight.
I don’t think the problem is the “115 pounds”. I think the problem is what we associate with “115 pounds”. We associate this number with women who are Photoshopped to look like Barbie, women who eat less than 500 calories a day to stay thin, women who spend more time at the gym than they spend at home, women who think they will look ugly if they weigh a pound more than 115, women who compare themselves to other women and see the word FAT dripping in oil and hatred down their mirrors. We shouldn’t attack the fact that Zoe is 115 pounds or that Allure decided to include this fact. We should attack the association it brings. If a healthy woman weighs 115 pounds, this shouldn’t affect anyone. However, if a magazine advocates that all healthy women should weigh 115 pounds, that’s when we should fight back against a skewed version of the “ideal” body. But if a magazine is merely saying, “this small young woman has proven herself to be such a huge asset and powerhouse in Hollywood!” then there really is no reason why we should be outraged by the fact that she’s… skinny.
Even though there is a lot of unfair scrutiny on “fat” women, there is also a decent amount of negativity shown towards “skinny” women, too. Since all fat women clearly only eat McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all skinny women must be anorexic and throw up their carrot sticks at the end of the day, right? As a culture, we need to break these stereotypes, these ugly associations, comparisons and generalizations. We need to accept all body types and be at peace with them. If a magazine chooses to celebrate Zoe’s strength as a small woman who might appear as though she’s meek and meager, then let them! They’re not doing anything wrong. If this upsets readers, then they are upset for the wrong reason. They are upset because they have been trained to hate the very word “weight” because of its connotations.
And I understand why. We are surrounded by thin celebrities on glossy paper or behind T.V. screens who share their skimpy diet regimes or celebrities who gained weight and have received scrutiny en masse. We are surrounded by health magazines that encourage us to lose that extra ten pounds, to consume less calories, to hit the gym more often. There’s a reason why so many young girls and women are so hard on themselves and their bodies, but the solution to this problem is not by shaking our disapproving fingers at magazines for including the weight of thin woman with benign intentions. This is just not the place to continue that war.
Featured image via Huffington Post