Rant: Oh Bridget …

Photo from People.com
Photo from People.com

One of the things I love about Bridget Jones (the book character, as well as the movie character portrayed by Renee Zellweger) is how relatable she is.

She is a real woman with real “issues” when it comes to men, family, work, and, yea, her weight. 

She dwells on her imperfections and commiserates with her BFFs about her woes — but don’t we all? Isn’t that what our BFFs are for?

She’s unfiltered, smart, sassy and funny… and I think her insecurities and vulnerabilities make her real. 

And unlike celebrities such as Renee Zellweger, Real “Bridgets” exist everywhere in this world; in fact, we all probably have a little Bridget in us.

Well, in case you haven’t heard, Renee Zellweger has once again signed on to “pack it on again” (People’s headline, not mine) and portray Bridget for a third Bridget Jones film.

Something about this being “newsworthy” makes me very sad.

Petite and curvy Renee will likely once again go from about a size 2 to a 12 for this role, gaining about 30-40 pounds in the process. She’s done it twice before, so this isn’t like it’s something new (or newsworthy). Yet here I am talking about it.

The thing is, a size 12 — Bridget’s size in the books/movie — is pretty much the size of the average woman today! So I find it insulting that that’s what’s considered “packing it on.”

Am I alone in this sentiment?

In addition to that, how ridiculously unhealthy is this yo-yo dieting she (or any other actor/actress) do for movie roles?! Binge for this role, spend 12 hours a day with a trainer for that one … it never ends!

I mean, I know celebrities do lots of crazy things for their craft, but it seems to me that this obsession with weight (gain or loss) for roles just presents another unhealthy side of the industry.

While I’m all about eating right and exercising regularly, it can’t possibly be good for their bodies to punish themselves all the time.

Yet it seems to be the expectation for some directors; to play the part you need to look the part, which raises eyebrows in the media, as Scarlett Johansson noted this April.

What does all this say to little girls everywhere? Let’s be real here. In real life Renee the celebrity is a thin, curvy woman; to play Bridget the average woman, she has to gain quite a bit of weight — and it’s not even like what she’ll gain will even make her obese!! It’ll make her … “average”!

Here’s what gets me: it’s a double-standard.

In one of my favorite Ryan Reynolds (swoon! ;-)) movies, Just Friends, he dons a “fat suit” to portray a very heavy Chris  Brander, the teenager. Once he’s Chris Brander, the 27-year old hunk, he sheds the fat suit and goes on with his merry life.

What upsets me for her is that Renee is going to be lugging around a real 30-40 extra pounds … to more or less look like an “average woman!”

Why put her in health in jeopardy for a role? Seems to me some appropriately-placed padding could have done the same trick.

Regardless, she took the role and knows what it entails … I just wish it didn’t come at such a price (health) or that the perception of it (“packing it on”) didn’t pack  such a punch.

For all the women out there struggling with body image issues, hearing about Renee gaining 30-40 lbs to look “average” is almost  a slap in the face.

Then again, I could say something else: with or without 30-40 lbs. on her, she’s still a beautiful woman inside and out, who plays the part incredibly well.

And I know I’ll go see the movie; I love Bridget Jones and wouldn’t miss another installment. Maybe in this film Bridget will truly make peace with her body?

That could have the most influence of all.

How about you? If you were an actor/actress, would you gain or lose a significant amount of weight for a role? And what did you think about the headline of “packing it on”? Did it upset you to read that and others like it?


17 thoughts on “Rant: Oh Bridget …

  1. I agree that losing or gaining weight to play a role is probably not very good for her/their health. I also feel offended by the “packing it on” headline. I have always heard that the average woman is a size 12-14 and it feels so insensitive to the average woman. It also gives the impression that all people that are bigger than a size six sit around eating ho hos and are lazy, which is totally not true.

    The media is full of it.

  2. Wow, I love Bridget Jones! I am excited to see the 3rd…Colin Firth is my “Ryan Reynolds.” 😉

    I think we can all appreciate Bridget’s sentiments about her body, but then of course I also feel sad that she ridicules it so. I’ve been that girl – making jokes about herself, comparing myself to the skinnier girl in the room – and it’s not a happy place. Maybe that’s why I root for her – she is completely relatable!

    I do hope she finds peace with her body in this movie. She ended up with the dream guy, but left me wondering: Is she truly HAPPY with herself?

    Of course the thought goes through my head that this can’t be healthy (for Renee) to gain/lose weight SO QUICKLY. I’m not sure how long it took for her to lose the weight, but it seems like I saw a photo of her at the premiere looking very svelte. It’s easy for me to say I would do the same as an actress – since the paychecks are incredibly enticing! But emotionally, I’m not sure if I could do it.

  3. I’m sure she has a whole arsenal of nutritionists that help her gain and lose the weight again. It doesn’t mean this needs to be a huge problem. You never know how much time lapses in between or how they gain the weight.

    Moreover there are plenty of guys who have done the same thing….Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Christian Bale (several times) etc. Sometimes it is what it is and when you have a disordered eating pattern you tend to get more easily annoyed by this but it does not mean they all binge or starve themselves uncontrollably.

  4. Don’t forget that Bridget is English. An English size 12 is a US size 8. How’s that for crazy?

    ~ an American living in London.

  5. “The media is full of it” — amen, Christie!

    Holly, I often wondered that, too — was she ever happy with herself?

    CM, yes, I come at it from the DE angle, but even with nutritionists and trainers, I still can’t see how it’s healthy for anyone’s heart it is to gain 30-40 lbs in a few months.

    I forgot about that, Anne!

  6. The very first thing you say is that Bridget Jones is a relatable, “real” woman, and with real woman issues—then doesn’t it make sense that she is wearing a size 12 the way a “real” woman would (in the form of excess weight on her body), as opposed to a totally comedic and unrealistic fat suit?! One of the best things about watching these movies is that Renee’s body looks so….normal. I agree that it’s not good for your health to gain or lose weight that quickly, let alone do both, but the sad fact is that people gain weight that quickly all the time, and often they try to lose it that quickly as well. You may not like that she is going to be a size 12, but Bridget is not supposed to be an obese woman, she is supposed to be someone who struggles with eating a bit too much at times. The fact is that Renee gaining 30-40 pounds to become a size 12 is more of an issue with how small she is to START, and how she’s living her life, than the fact that she will be a size 12 for the film. No matter how you slice it, size 12 is on the fuller side of whatever height Bridget is supposed to be, as per Felding’s novels.

  7. I do think she’s a real, relatable woman …and I never said to put her in a “fat suit” but rather “appropriately placed padding” like Eva Longoria wore for DH.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a size 12. I think what’s wrong is the reference to a skinny Renee needing to “pack it on” to be that size. It just sounds bad. I agree they didn’t want to make her an obese woman and a 12 is average.

    I guess that’s a good point about her starting weight. Meryl Streep gained 15 to play Julia Child; maybe had Renee been a little bigger, the weight gain wouldn’t be so drastic. No one said Meryl (who is gorgeous) had to “pack it on.”

  8. I agree with Sue. I think you are overly bothered what some media oulet says about it because you have been feeling lousy lately ( to which I can relate and I do sympathise).

    I wonder if would you be so upset if they said that Christian Bale is packing it on to play a i.e. boxer. It sounds a lot more neutral if you replace the name. Is it healthy to gain and lose so much all the time, no it isn’t. I mean Charlize Theron did the same and just went back to her weight. Again I do believe these ppl are monitored closely and have the time and resources to work at it.

    I don’t mean any offense nor do I mean any harm but I think you see everything through ED-glasses at the moment and hence you get annoyed by such headlines. Sorry if this upsets you.

  9. I thought she looked better in Bridget Jones. In my opinion she looked healthier. I am not trying to be judgemental or mean. I think when she is thin her head does not fit her small body. When weighs more her body seems more proportionate. I thought she looked very good in Bridget Jones and younger even. I don’t think she was as thin in the very beginning of her career. It seems these days most of the actresses are smaller then when they started their careers.

  10. CS I am not sure how long you’ve been reading my blog or what you know about me, but this is, after all, a DE recovery blog and naturally that means I’m looking at things through that lens. Regardless of how I feel about my body on a given day, body image/weight/ED/DE stories interest me.

    Yes, I would be upset if it were Christian Bale or a male actor. It is just unhealthy. And wording it that way just sounds harsh.

    I realize you meant no offense, and no offense taken. It’s not that I get “annoyed” so much as stories like this fuel negative body image issues for vulnerable women and I like to raise concern/discussion whether my readers agree or disagree — I don’t mind either way. I don’t expect people to always agree with me and appreciate when they don’t.

    Alis, I agree she looks better with some “normal” weight. You’re right, most current celebs didn’t look so svelte at the beginning of their careers; yet it’s part of the “game” if you will. I understand that to some extent. It doen’t make it “right” though.

    1. Again not passing judgment nor do I pretend to know how you feel but I read what you write. Part of putting yourself out there is that people form an image of you based on your ups and downs. I wouldn’t read your blog if ED-issues don’t concern me.

      I’m just trying to maintain a certain perspective if you wish. But I understand if you interpret this as a criticism towards you. That is not my intention. Your blog interests me and provides warning signs for my own eating habits or lack thereof, so I’m definitely on your side just don’t want to be an enabler if I can put it so crudely.

  11. I totally agree with you. I think that it is a very unrealistic look. I do not believe that most these celebrities are eating a normal healthy diet. I also don’t see why they have to be so thin to be successful. The hollywood image has gone too far in my opinion. I have seen so many magazines pointing out actresses cellulite. I think that is so ridiculous and mean.

  12. Also,Christian Bale admitted to starving himself to prepare for the role in The Machinist. I really don’t think going up and down in weight is healthy. Stars that gain weight for roles or have babies often admit that to lose the weight so quickly they have to spend hours a day in the gym.

  13. You raise some great issues here, and, as usual, I have mixed feelings! If I were an actor, I probably would agree to gain and lose weight as necessary for a role. In theory, I don’t see how this is different than agreeing to wear a wig or take on a different accent. But, as a viewer, I do wish Renee would find a happy weight! I think she is way to thin as her “normal” self now, but her Bridget-weight is obviously not her natural weight, either. As for the headine of packing on the pounds, I can see how that might irk you a bit for sure. However, remember, for Renee it IS packing on the pounds. That is a lot of weight to gain, regardless of where that puts you in relation to the general population.
    Great post!

  14. I was kind of thinking the same thing as you when I hear the average body size is a size 12. But I think the average weight for a women is 163 lbs for a 5’3″ woman which is overweight. I think just because that “average” women is a size 12 they may not be healthy since over 50% of the population is overweight. I guess as long as you’re “healthy” that’s all that matters. Whatever that means 🙂

  15. Lara, as you can tell, I often have mixed feelings within my own posts…sometimes I worry it makes me seem insecure or unsure of my own thoughts, but really it’s because I tend to see both sides of every story!

    Good point, Robin!

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