Are we running out of stories to cover in the news? Most likely the answer is no, so why is it that we have to consider a celebrity looking slightly “fuller” than they usually have, as a major newsworthy topic? I do not use the word ‘major’ lightly here in that all of the major news networks and shows, along with magazines and newspapers have all run stories this week on singer Jessica Simpson’s slightly different new look from her Daisy Duke appearance four years ago.
Simpson was photographed performing at a fair in Texas and those photos have made major headlines, simply because of Simpson appearing as not the usual size-0 celebrities are expected to be. She appeared healthy and normal as opposed to stick thin, and that led to a breaking news story.
It is a shame that in this day and age society still treats a woman’s appearance as if it were the most important thing that a woman has to offer the world, and that if that appearance does not meet society’s requirements of a ‘perfect?’ figure, then that woman will be forced to face negative and harsh attacks on her body. And how can a mother explain a ‘perfect’ image to her daughter?
What are we telling young girls by criticizing every pound that a female public figure puts on? In a country where approximately seven million girls and women struggle with eating disorders and 86% report an onset of the illness by the age of 20, the last thing the press should make as a headlining news story is a woman gaining a few pounds.
It is highly damaging to not only young girls but women of all ages when another woman’s body is heavily attacked for looking slightly fuller than it did when she was four years younger. Celebrities are humans too and their bodies do not have to be ‘Hollywood Perfect’ 365 days a year. Jessica Simpson will turn 29 this year. How many women can honestly say they have the exact same body in their 30’s as they did in their early 20’s?
This weight headline all started when The New York Post featured new photos of Simpson on their most popular page, Page six, under the headlines; ‘Jumbo Jessica Simpson Packin’ on the Pounds in Photos’. From these photos, The New York Daily News featured a cartoon sketch of Jessica looking 20 times the size she actually is, with her Dallas football player boyfriend Tony Romo standing across from her as thin as pen was also featured. Then all of the television media outlets picked up on this so-called story and treated it as if it were the most important breaking news story of the day.
Jessica’s sister Ashlee Simpson was outraged by the media blitz concerning her sister’s body that she immediately came out in defense for her sister on her MySpace blog writing, “I am completely disgusted by the headlines concerning my sister’s weight. A week after the inauguration and with such a feeling of hope in the air for our country, I find it completely embarrassing and belittling to all women to read about a woman’s weight or figure as a headline on Fox News (”Jessica Simpson Shocks Fans With Noticeably Fuller Figure”.)
Aren’t there enough important news stories in the world right now that could be written to sell a paper or increase ratings for a news program? Must we continue to degrade women by using their bodies and a touchy subject such as weight, to make money? Is that really what journalism entails? To criticize when criticism is not needed and send out negative messages to our readers as long as we can have readers?
I do not believe that is definition of real journalism. And I cannot understand how at a time when our country is dealing with thousands and thousands of people losing their jobs and homes, and parents having to pull their children out of college due to the inability to pay tuition, that certain people would spend so much time and energy to put others down for simply feeling confident with their own bodies and not letting the media or industry decide how much they should weigh.
I get that magazines and newspapers need to make money and that they are willing to report anything and everything to make money. But a woman’s figure should not be a scandalous story, no matter the size and shape. And what makes matters worse about this story is that Jessica Simpson is not even remotely close to being overweight!
As actress Sophia Bush told Health Magazine in their October 2008 issue, “It’s weird: In our business, I’m a size 2 and considered curvy.” And since certain media outlets thrive on setting unrealistic standards for woman, the 26 year-old One Tree Hill actress agrees it is up to celebrities like her to set the positive examples to their young female fans. “It’s important to remind young women, ‘Listen, even skinny girls have cellulite, even Halle Berry has cellulite, and what you see in photos isn’t totally real.”
Jessica’s sister Ashlee Simpson echoed Bush’s statement on her blog;
“All women come in different shapes, sizes, and forms and just because you’re a celebrity, there shouldn’t be a different standard… How can we expect teenage girls to love and respect themselves in an environment where we criticize a size 2 figure? Now can we focus on the things that really matter. “
It is ironic how those the media talks about are the ones who seem to really understand what actually should be talked about.