In a way, Elle's 24th annual Women in Hollywood Awards on Monday night couldn't have come at a better time. Of course, it's been a pretty difficult week for women in Hollywood, but the event provided an safe platform for many of said women — some of the smartest and most inspiring among them, in fact — to share their stories, opinions and actionable plans for the future. I, for one, left feeling hopeful and reassured, if also even a bit more acutely aware of how common abuse is in the entertainment industry.
One of those to share their stories was honoree Jennifer Lawrence; while Lawrence has always been open and outspoken, there was one anecdote she hadn't brought to light. Early in her career (pre-"Hunger Games"), she explained, a producer told her to lose 15 pounds in two weeks — an objectively unhealthy feat: "Super-easy," as she put it. She also learned that, before her, an actress had been fired for not losing the weight quickly enough. During this time, she was also told by a female producer to do a "nude lineup" wearing just "paste-ons" with five other women whom she said were "much thinner." The producer then told her to use the photos as "inspiration" for her diet.
She went on, saying: "The director of that film asked if he could have me star in a porno as the character among many other things that are too inappropriate to repeat here." She explained that she tried to speak up. "I asked to speak to a producer about the unrealistic diet regime and he responded by telling me he didn't know why everyone thought I was so fat; he thought I was perfectly fuck-able," she said. "I look back at this time and I see that I was trapped, like so many young actors and actresses starting out. I couldn't have gotten a producer or a director or a studio head fired. I let myself be treated a certain way because I felt like I had to for my career. I was young and walking that fine line of sticking up for myself without being called 'difficult,' which they did call me, but I believe the word they used was, 'nightmare.'"
The story provided more insight into comments Lawrence made in Elle in 2012, at which time just sounded self-deprecating. "In Hollywood, I'm obese," she said. "I'm considered a fat actress."
Things improved as she got more famous, but that itself is a problem. "When you're a movie star, you have the power to say no, but what constitutes this power? Every human being, no matter how successful they are, should have the power to be treated with respect because they're human."
Imagine how many problems — Hollywood sexism and beyond — could be solved if that were the case.