You don’t have to look genetically superior to work

Katherine HeiglThe title comes from a comment by Katherine Heigl [“Grey’s Anatomy” etc], who admits she used to weigh herself “every day at a certain time of day.

“Then I would write down the number and measure my body fat. It wasn’t a healthy way to live.

“Now I can tell if I’ve gained or lost weight just by the way my clothes are fitting.”

She added, “When I see some of the people who are glorified in magazines these days – who are so thin it’s bordering on sickness – I just feel exhausted.

“I would hate to think that young girls in high schools across America think that’s what they’re supposed to look like.”

She thinks “Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry are both in amazing shape. They look phenomenal but they don’t look sick.

“Then there’s Kate Winslet: She’s confident, beautiful, talented and sexy and she owns it.

“Early in my career, I read an interview she gave about how the industry wanted her to lose weight; she basically gave them the finger and said no.

“I remember thinking, I can do that too. I don’t have to look like one of these genetically superior people in order to work.”

[From Glamour mag. interview, June 2007; photo from Twitter/Katie Heigl]

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Sara Ramirez, who also worked as an actor on “Grey’s Anatomy,” says she “always felt like I stuck out..

Sara Ramirez“I was a lot taller and bigger-boned than most girls my age.

“My mom did a great job of raising me.. But I think she was very critical of her own body and projected that onto me.

“There were times when she felt she needed to lose 20 pounds, and therefore I also needed to lose 20 pounds.

“The mentality was, we should lose weight. As a result, I grew up wanting to look like someone else rather than appreciating the body I had.”

In tenth grade she got cast in her first musical and was “suddenly catapulted into this place where I was getting a lot of attention, admiration and praise.

“I even got accepted to The Juilliard School, a prestigious performing arts school in New York City.

“The school was full of actresses, singers, dancers… and a lot of them had eating disorders.

“For me, the body-image issues came in waves. I would diet hard-core, lose a lot of weight and feel really good about myself. Then I would have moments of unhappiness.

“My way of dealing was to eat and eat and eat; I’d gain lots of weight and feel really crappy. Somewhere along the line, all the self-esteem I’d felt went out the window.

“My weight constantly yo-yoed – at my slimmest I was a size 6; my biggest, a 14.”

In “Grey’s Anatomy” there was a scene for Ramirez (as orthopedic surgeon ‘Dr. Callie Torres’) to “dance around half-naked in my underwear,” she exclaims.

“Doing the scene helped me get over a lot of my issues. I had to accept my body.”

[From Glamour, Jan 2007; photo from]

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Kelly Clarkson has been very successful as a singer, including winning two Grammy Awards, and admits she struggled with her body image at one time.

In a CosmoGirl! interview, she revealed she became bulimic after she was passed over for a role in her high school musical.

“I thought… If I came back and I’m cuter and thinner… then I’ll get the role.”

Clarkson was bulimic for six months. “One of my guy friends caught on to it, and I just felt so ashamed and embarassed,” she tells the mag.

“I literally went cold turkey and snapped out of it… I’ve got a butt, I’m Greek – I can’t help that. And I think it’s good for people to see normal.” [US Weekly June 21 2007]

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Scarlett Johansson has commented about the complex emotional pressures on actors:

“Any time that you are involved in a field that’s revolving around vanity of some sort with a high rate of failure, it can breed a desperation in people that doesn’t always have a happy ending.

“I think that kind of ambition with no end can really make for a lot of nastiness…”

For many women who are actors in [and performers in music, and modeling, of course] the “nastiness” can include demands to be size 0 or close to it.

But Johansson – and many of us men who appreciate feminine beauty in a wide range of features and sizes – thinks the really skinny look is “unsexy.”

Celebrating their natural appearance

As a man who isn’t an actor or model, I don’t have an inside experience of body image pressures.

It just seems to me responding to those pressures in unhealthy ways, and being overly obsessed with appearance, can limit your abilities and energies.

Thankfully, women like the above who are so well-known and visible, seem to have chosen to respect and celebrate their natural appearance. And to use ways other than food and dieting to deal with the kinds of emotional challenges many, if not most, gifted and talented people experience.

Related pages:

Body image

Eating disorders