In many households, Sunday from 9pm to 10pm there is absolutely no talking because “True Blood” is on. The struggles of vampires attempting to assimilate into human society has become a mainstream fascination and fans clamor for even the smallest news about its stars. When I came across the following tidbit about Kristen Bauer, who plays the vampire Pam, I must say that I was disturbed.
“The other day I realized as long as I’m in this business, I’m going to be hungry,” says Bauer, 36. “The camera really does add 10 pounds. I’m trying to stay under the weight I want to look like on TV. It’s a good incentive to stay slim and is probably adding years to my life… I’m vegetarian, so I live on carbs, but it’s always an effort. After any wardrobe fitting, I hit the gym three times more than the week before.”
“All the women walk by craft services and keep going,” she says. “I don’t even know why we walk by, we’re just torturing ourselves. Alex [Skarsgard] and Joe [Manganiello], they’re trying to add size, but we’re all working out like crazy and have diets. Skarsgard seems to be the only one that works out a lot and eats a lot and does fine.”
So basically, what Bauer is saying, is that for as long as she is an actress, she intends to starve herself to conform to the media image of what is understood as attractive for women. Am I the only one that sees a problem in this? I am so tired of hearing from starlets about the various ways in which they starve themselves to maintain a very specific image. From Jennifer Aniston, who apparently cannot eat a whole bagel, to Bauer who has accepted hunger, it seems clear that women have bought into the ridiculous myth that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. This attitude persists even as women are dying of eating disorders.
Imagine for one moment that women stopped starving themselves. Imagine if female stars all demanded that the vicious photoshopping of their images came to halt. Imagine if we were forced to acknowledge that women came in various shapes and sizes. Imagine a world in which women were no longer judged by how many boners they inspire. It sounds utopian doesn’t it? But the longer we continue to submit and perform this damaging form of femininity, the more it will persist as the standard.
Women are expected to be impossibly beautiful when they are models or actresses and fat women are erased from the media altogether. Bauer was certainly honest about her relationship with food, but unfortunately this sends a terrible message to young girls who may read this article. It teaches them that the price of beauty is constant hunger. This is exactly the kind of situation that leads to unhealthy relationships with food and eating disorders. Food is something we all must consume to survive; however, there should also be pleasure in this relationship, whereas many of these famous women seem to be treating food as a necessary evil.
I think that when we look at these women we should see the cost of their appearance. How can living a life in which one must purposefully starve and then live in a gym be considered healthy and natural? Food fuels our bodies and in many instances it serves as a time of communion. This standard not only forces women into performing a restrictive form of femininity, it weakens female bodies making them vulnerable to men. This unhealthy standard is about female vulnerability and a continual performance to please patriarchy, therefore it cannot be considered empowering in any way. Kudos to Bauer for shedding more light on the situation; however, we cannot afford to look at this cavalierly because what is true for her, is also true for far too many.