Heavy­weight stars

Celebri­ties of­ten have to go hun­gry to stay in great shape.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT - HAU BOON LAI

Celebri­ties of­ten have to go hun­gry to stay in great shape.

TV STAR and singer Jes­sica Simp­son made the news for all the wrong rea­sons in Jan­uary last year af­ter pho­tos of a fuller­bod­ied her dur­ing a per­for­mance made the rounds of the tabloids and the In­ter­net.

Com­men­ta­tors were call­ing her fat and even US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said on na­tional TV that Simp­son was “in a weight bat­tle” when he was shown her pho­tos, which were on the cover of an en­ter­tain­ment mag­a­zine.

Simp­son showed real class in her re­sponse to the crit­i­cisms, mak­ing no apolo­gies for her weight gain and ex­press­ing con­tent­ment that she need not starve her­self till she was faint just to fit into size 2 jeans.

The amaz­ing thing was that Simp­son was far from fat, go­ing from a size 2 to a size 6, pos­si­bly a size 8, which in the Malaysian con­text, meant that she had gone from small to medium, the av­er­age size of the ma­jor­ity of women.

But the way the tabloids were play­ing it, one would have got­ten the im­pres­sion that she had to­tally let her­self go.

Even more amaz­ing is the fact that size zero seems to be the ideal that crit­ics de­mand of celebri­ties.

Simp­son was con­stantly be­ing com­pared to her thinnest, when she fit into the tight shorts of Daisy Duke in the 2005 movie ver­sion of the clas­sic TV se­ries, The Dukes Of Haz­zard, when, ac­cord­ing to one re­port, she had faint­ing spells try­ing to main­tain her weight.

What’s heart­en­ing is that many peo­ple were fully sup­port­ive of Simp­son and agreed with her that she is not fat.

How­ever, her case is just the tip of the ice­berg of a cul­ture in which celebri­ties are forced to con­form to a pub­lic im­age of ex­treme thin­ness and be­com­ing nor­mal-sized in­vites many neg­a­tive com­ments and taunts.

And God for­bid that one ac­tu­ally gets fat. Even com­pa­nies get into the act – some had in­cor­po­rated jokes about Simp­son’s weight gain in their ads.

The pres­sure to be thin is re­lent­less and many celebri­ties suc­cumb to it de­spite the great price and the real ef­fort needed to achieve and main­tain their low weight.

The poignant words of Hong Kong ac­tress Ca­rina Lau on this is­sue a cou­ple of years ago comes to mind.

She had re­vealed dur­ing an in­ter­view that she had been hun­gry for some 10 years in or­der to main­tain her slim­ness.

Lau is not alone in her strug­gle to stay trim, and it is in­deed a strug­gle. South Africa-born ac­tress Char­l­ize Theron, who re­cently re­ceived the Guy’s Choice Award for a Decade Of Hot­ness, told an in­ter­viewer that “it’s a lot of work” to stay in shape.

The hor­ri­ble thing is that celebri­ties do ap­pear to have some­thing to worry about as there are in­di­ca­tions that weight gain does lead to the loss of lead roles.

Hong Kong ac­tors Alex Man and Ray Lui, both aged 53, hailed from the same gen­er­a­tion of lead­ing men in tele­vi­sion se­ri­als.

How­ever, while Lui is still a lead­ing man, Man has scored sup­port­ing roles at best. The dif­fer­ence be­tween them is that while Man has bal­looned, Lui has man­aged to look al­most the same de­spite the years.

The same ob­ser­va­tion can be made with re­gards to five Hong Kong ac­tors – Andy Lau, Tony Le­ung Chiu Wai, Michael Miu, Felix Wong and Ken Tong – who were col­lec­tively known as the Five Tigers in the 1980s.

Ken, who has gained the most weight among the five, has fared the worst in

his ca­reer, with lit­tle to show for the past decade.

While there may be other rea­sons for Man’s and Tong’s de­mo­tion from lead­ing man sta­tus, the most ob­vi­ous ap­pears to be that the two for­mer heart­throbs lost their ap­peal when they gained weight.

Even when they have man­aged to main­tain their star sta­tus, celebri­ties who have be­come fat have to en­dure ridicule from com­men­ta­tors.

Ac­tor Wil­liam Shat­ner shined as the orig­i­nal Cap­tain James T. Kirk in the break­through sci-fi se­ries Star Trek in the 1960s and has main­tained a steady ca­reer up till now.

How­ever, de­spite his con­tin­ued suc­cess, he is of­ten a tar­get for jokes about the weight he has gained over the years.

Ac­tress Kirstie Al­ley, who went from pe­tite to tip­ping the scales at over 100kg, is the butt of many jokes con­trast­ing her great look­ing body in a bikini then with what she is now.

It does not sur­prise that Al­ley has been try­ing to shed the weight she has gained. She seems to be suc­cess­ful in her lat­est at­tempt, los­ing over 20kg and telling fans that she is set to lose more weight.

While ac­tress Jen­nifer Love He­witt blasted those who tried to make an is­sue of her weight gain when she was pho­tographed in a bikini in 2007, she still con­formed in the end, los­ing weight be­fore ap­pear­ing in a mag­a­zine’s bikini shoot 10 weeks af­ter the crit­i­cisms sur­faced. While she has said that she lost the weight for health rea­sons and not due to pres­sure from the me­dia, few peo­ple are buy­ing it.

The news is not all bad. Some celebri­ties are fac­ing off against weight crit­ics and are de­ter­mined not to be brow­beaten into be­ing the weight that oth­ers want them to be.

Amer­i­can Idol win­ner Kelly Clark­son is con­stantly forced on the de­fen­sive about her weight.

While she has in­deed put on weight since her skinny days in the early 2000s, Clark­son has in­sisted that it is no one’s busi­ness to tell her how much she should weigh.

For­mer su­per­model and talk show host Tyra Banks is also a fierce de­fender of her right to be what­ever weight she is, es­pe­cially as it is hardly fair to call her fat.

Celebri­ties can also take heart from the fact that ac­tor John Tra­volta is proof that gain­ing weight is no ob­sta­cle to­wards hav­ing a great ca­reer.

I hope the day will come when no celebrity has to go hun­gry all the time just so they can fit into size zero pants. n In this col­umn, writer Hau Boon Lai pon­ders the lives, loves and lib­er­ties of celebri­ties.

Weight bat­tle: Jes­sica Simp­son showed real class in her re­sponse to the crit­i­cisms about her weight gain, mak­ing no apolo­gies for it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.