Nunez: Celebrities, lose weight but keep it to yourself

Julianna Nunez, Columnist

Like many American women, I am self-conscious about the way I look. There always seem to be extra pounds to lose, no matter what I do. It turns out celebrities have weight problems, too. That’s pretty interesting, because one of the common “celebrity illnesses” (ailments that seemingly no one but celebrities suffer from regularly) is “excessive weight loss.”

I am sick of hearing celebrities talk about their weight loss. Compared to most women, female celebrities exist on another plane of physical maintenance.

I’ll use Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson as my first examples. Hudson was indeed overweight, so it’s good that she lost weight and made herself healthier. But does she have to keep bringing it up? I know she has a deal with Weight Watchers, but an average person being on Weight Watchers and Hudson being on Weight Watchers are two totally different things.

Hudson is a celebrity: it is practically written in her contracts that she has to look a certain way. Part of my job is having my columns edited; part of Hudson’s job is to be a certain size to better conform to Hollywood’s expectations. Hudson’s weight loss seemed more natural because she was able to make the argument that it was for her health. Her weight loss likely added years to her life.

After most women give birth, their bodies are a little out of shape, but they have a baby to focus on, so weight loss falls on the back burner for a while. Not so for Beyonce. Celebrities can afford nannies upon nannies upon nannies, so when it was announced that Beyonce lost 60 pounds after giving birth, I thought “so what?” Beyonce was never overweight. Having post-baby pudge and being overweight are two totally different concepts. Beyonce was never unhealthy and is very rich. She can take time off from performing and still manage to stay relevant through the talk show circuit (or modeling, or being married to Jay-Z, etc.). People love Beyonce, I’m sure they would have been a little forgiving if she looked like she just gave birth after she, you know, just gave birth.

Just like on The Biggest Loser, when people remove themselves from the real world of work and temptations, their sudden weight loss stops being inspirational.

On the other hand, I’ll go through my regular workout routine: 30 minutes or so on the elliptical and maybe 10 minutes doing some sort of weight training. I try to do this every day in the morning unless I get sick or want to get some extra studying in. With my other daily obligations, I try to do what I can, but I’m not Wonder Woman. There are other people at the gym who do more or less the same thing, so I’m assuming that people have time to work out a couple of times a week. That is what our bodies need, and we will be healthier for it in the long run. But there is a big difference between working out to stay healthy and the post-baby weight purge Hollywood encourages.

Let me move on to another Hollywood lady who is dealing with weight: Jessica Simpson. You see, unlike with Beyonce and Heidi Klum, Simpson’s weight is not just melting off before our eyes. She has signed a deal with Weight Watchers, but I have not read any tabloid stories about her dropping 50 pounds. Of course, I can’t blame her: she has a baby. I do not have to be a mother to understand that babies have a tendency to take up all of your time and energy. Most new mothers cannot spend five hours at the gym every day when taking care of a newborn.

These stories send the wrong message to women, especially expectant mothers. It sends the message that, at the end of the day, your body and appearance must be your highest priority, even if you’ve just given birth. I understand that mothers should be healthy for their babies, but there is a very big difference between “healthy” and “I can fit in couture clothes again.” This can be seen anywhere on the internet and is a myth with dangerous consequences. There are young girls who think its normal to lose 20 or so pounds in two weeks because we see that in tabloids and then they proceed to freak out and start tagging things on Tumblr when it turns out they can’t shed the weight that fast.

Hollywood is a weird place. In the real world, beauty is only skin deep, and people only need to have some sort of vocational skill to function. In Hollywood, you need skills and a look that complements those skills. Are you a pop singer? Then you had better look the part.

Part of me thinks some of these actresses, models and singers put this pressure on themselves. Like I stated above, I’m sure people would not have stopped buying Beyonce songs if she had the slightest hint of a stomach. Despite the world telling them how beautiful they are at every second of the day, perhaps these women do feel self-conscious when their appearance changes. It’s like a race to show the world they still have it. I got a sense of this when Christina Hendricks became all agitated when a reporter referred to her as a full-figured woman. We all know what Hendricks looks like; she isn’t anyone’s definition of petite or small. She’s certainly not fat, but she definitely isn’t small. But despite being praised for her appearance, Hendricks still found reason to get mad.

I don’t model myself after female celebrities. I’m sure if I worked out five hours a day, had a chef who made delicious food with low calorie counts and had someone take two hours to apply my makeup, I would look decent too. Alas, I am a member of the real world, and I have to play by different rules. Most women do, so I don’t think it’s healthy for everyone to put celebrities on a pedestal because they lose weight freaky fast.

Instead, women should be realistic about their weight loss. There are articles everywhere about normal, everyday women who have made healthier changes in their lives. They manage to do this with day jobs and other responsibilities and without the army of helpers. In short, these are women who function in the real world. As such, they should find new role models for weight loss, people who have normal jobs and responsibilities and cannot spend five hours in the gym every day.

Julianna Nunez is a Medill junior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].