response #2

Women’s Roles in Hollywood

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano discusses the body shape controversy and women’s roles in Hollywood in her article, “The Message of Jennifer’s Body”. Although Whitefield-Madrano talks about the specific criticism that actress Jennifer Lawrence received for her “lingering baby fat” in her role as Katniss in The Hunger Games; there is a much deeper issue at hand.

Although I have not seen the film, I was quite shocked when I looked up pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and saw that the press was calling her too fat for the role. I understand that the character Katniss in the novel The Hunger Games was supposed to be underweight, but Lawrence certainly is still a thin woman. What kind of message are we sending young women and men when someone like Lawrence is picked apart for not fitting the proper “code” of what a thin person should look like? How does the constant comment on women who do not fit inside the Hollywood standard of body shape affect our culture and ideas of beauty?

Carol Bernstein, a professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine comments on the issue in Sheila Markar’s article “Jennifer Lawrence’s Body Criticism ‘Toxic’, Psychologists Say”:

“Having a strong woman character is always a positive,” said Carol Bernstein, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, “and it’s unfortunate that the discussion has been sidetracked. It’s very upsetting that the media puts so much focus on these kind of things, which makes young girls who are very susceptible to eating disorders think twice about how they look.”

The article “The Message of Jennifer’s Body” takes the issue of body image to the next level by exploring the depth or lack thereof of roles for actresses today. Whitfield-Madrano writes, “Lawrence’s casting isn’t really the problem; it’s the dearth of complex, layered roles for actresses her age, who are more often cast as flimsy love interests with the barest of personality quirks to make her “relatable.”

I am consistently disappointed by the two-dimensional, predictable female roles presented in modern day mainstream film. Female roles in film can often be disappointing, and at times the culture of these gender roles run so deep that as viewers (myself included) we may fail to even recognize them.

So what do you think?

Jennifer Lawrence

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