As much as we hate to admit it, celebrities are a huge source of body image shame for men and women alike. However, women have it especially tough in this respect because of the extreme nature of what it takes to be thin in Tinseltown. The majority of female celebrities are extremely thin, and because so many of them are thin, it gives off the idea that every woman should be that thin. Even worse, it makes some women aspire to be that thin to the point where they make themselves sick trying to get there. This is why it’s often so refreshing to see women in the public eye that aren’t thin: it shows that there’s more than one way for a woman to exist in the public eye. Those women are often seen as role models, not just because they’re not rail-thin but because they’re proud of their size. That’s why it’s often so confusing and even disappointing when those role model celebrities end up taking drastic measures to lose weight.
While some of the women on this list lost weight for health reasons, others did it for more cosmetic ones. While any and all reasons to lose or gain weight are perfectly valid, there is something a bit hypocritical about building a name off of loving your body and who you are, then changing your body when it suits you. Some of the women who do this often lose weight, then have a ton of plastic surgery on their bodies or faces, often looking totally unrecognizable when they’re done making all of those changes. While not all of these women have come out in support of body positivity, a lot of them have. Here are fifteen female celebrities who have said publicly that they’re proud of their bodies, only to lose a significant amount of weight down the line.
15. Renee Zellweger
Renee Zellweger is an Academy Award winner for a reason. She has a diverse portfolio of roles from comedic to tragic, even taking part in a movie musical (Chicago) that went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. She actually gained weight for Bridget Jones’s Diary, making her one of the few stars that gained weight for a part instead of losing weight. However, all of that changed after she returned to public life in after a six-year hiatus. Something about Renee’s face looked fundamentally different, right down to her facial structure. Many people thought that she’d gotten plastic surgery, but nowadays she looks much like she always did.
Despite her fluctuating weight and plastic surgery rumors, Zellweger maintains that she doesn’t care about the superficial. “I think a woman only gets more interesting as she gets older. Youth and superficial beauty have their place and that is, understandably, celebrated to a degree. But that’s so fleeting and it’s only for a moment in your life. As you mature, you’re not just getting older, you’re becoming more of who you are supposed to be, and becoming the best version of yourself, better and more interesting. It’s a more powerful beauty and it’s a more valuable beauty. Besides — I don’t want to stay the same! I’m curious about what comes next!”
14. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson first rose to fame on American Idol, and the two things we all noticed about her were her incredible, Oscar winning voice and her plus sized figure that earned her more than a little criticism. She seemed to really own her body, something that was pretty rare when she was first on the scene, so it bummed a lot of people out when she signed on with Weight Watchers and lost a whopping eighty pounds. She looks great and no one is taking that accomplishment away from her, but it’s honestly kind of depressing watching her now because she seems so unhappy.
The woman has been through hell (her mom, brother, and nephew were murdered around the same time), but whenever she talks about her weight loss publicly, she doesn’t seem happy. She even goes so far as to say she doesn’t recognize herself anymore. Weight loss doesn’t just take pounds off your body, it puts stress on your psyche, and nobody seems to talk about that side of weight loss.
13. Jordin Sparks
Jordin Sparks is an American Idol alum who makes pretty empowering music. In no universe could anyone ever call her fat: she was a tall girl with a curvy figure to match her height. She was among the many curvy celebrities who was quietly withdrawing from public life to hit the gym, only to reemerge much thinner.
When asked how she managed to shed the pounds, Sparks told The Daily Mail that she just made weight loss a priority. Instead of waiting for the “right time” to get active and lose weight, she decided she was just going to do it. “I was talking to somebody and then we just decided we would be friends, and it was one of those things where I was turning 21 and New Year’s was coming and it was like I’m not going to start my resolution on New Years Day, I’m going to try to start it early and just stick to it.”
12. Melissa McCarthy
Before we really had body positive icons as we know them today, we had Melissa McCarthy. She was always quick to point out the hypocrisy in a situation involving a woman’s body, and she never seemed to give into the pressure of being thin in Hollywood. That changed when she showed up to the P.S. ARTS Express Yourself 2014 45 pounds lighter. People were so shocked – the big news was her weight loss, not the charity she was trying to support! However, there’s a lot of hypocrisy to dig through here.
For her whole career, she’s said that discussing her weight is fat shaming, and she’s right about that. However, when she was asked about how she lost the weight, she oversimplified everything. “I feel amazing and I finally said, ‘Oh, for God sakes, stop worrying about it’ and it may be the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said. Basically, she stopped worrying and she lost the weight. That’s a terrible message, especially for those who really struggle with losing weight. It’s terrible, but when you’re a celebrity, you’re a role model and people listen to you. It’s up to those who choose to speak out on these things to use their influence in the best way they can.
11. Amber Riley
Amber Riley rose to fame as Mercedes Jones on Glee, playing a character known for owning her body and who was sort of a symbol to plus sized girls everywhere. However, 2009 Riley looks almost nothing like the Riley of 2017. She lost a little weight in 2012 when she cut out fast food and dropped a few dress sizes, but she lost even more in 2016, three years after winning season 17 of Dancing With The Stars.
She looks great and she’s definitely still a role model, but she’s a different kind of body positive role model now. Luckily, Riley seems to have lost the weight in a totally healthy way and doesn’t seem to be doing it for any other reason than for health. While it’s totally not up to us to judge why someone loses weight, we’re happy that Riley seems to be happy, especially as she headlines the West End’s Dreamgirls.
10. Khloe Kardashian
Khloe Kardashian‘s weight has always been a point of discussion. She’s unique among the Kardashian girls in the sense that she has a totally different body type and no amount of weight loss or gain has changed that. While her weight loss journey doesn’t make her a hypocrite, her idea of getting a “revenge body” specifically to show up an ex-boyfriend or ex-friend.
Basically, instead of telling the candidates on her show Revenge Body to love themselves the way they are, Khloe basically tells them that in order for them to better themselves, they have to change themselves. That’s a terrible and depressing message for anyone with low self-esteem. Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight and keep it off as a lifestyle change knows how hard it is to do and that it’s a decision that you should never do for someone else.
9. Ashley Nell Tipton
Ashley Nell Tipton is the first winner of Project Runway (for season 14) to do so for a fashion line catering to plus sized women. As a plus sized woman myself, I have some of her pieces.
However, many of her fans were disappointed when she announced her recent gastric bypass surgery. “I went to multiple doctors to make sure that I’m taking the right anti-depression medication, and make sure that my blood pressure’s okay,” the 25-year-old designer told People. “I found out that my blood pressure wasn’t okay and that I had a fatty liver. All these health risks were coming up. I was like, no wonder I’m not happy because my body is working 10 times harder to try to be healthy.” Thankfully, people were kind to her when the announcement was made, but there’s definitely been some debate about gastric bypass surgery in the wake of the announcement.
8. Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe has long been a champion of body positivity. Ever since she rose to fame for her portrayal of Precious in the Oscar winning movie Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire, for which she was nominated for multiple awards herself, she’s stood up against anyone who had anything to say about her body. However, her status as a body positive icon was thrown into flux when she announced in her memoir that she got laparoscopic bariatric surgery. While many of her fans were disappointed, she’s confident in her decision and feels she’s taking charge of her health.
She decided to get the surgery after she and her brother were both diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. “I took a long time to do [the surgery] because I really was trying [to lose weight]. I outlived my first trainer! He died of cancer. He was so great. I lost a ton of weight with him, then I didn’t; I really, really tried — I gave a valiant try. So I’m glad that I finally realized that the surgery wasn’t the easy way out. I wasn’t cheating by getting it done. I wouldn’t have been able to lose as much as I’ve lost without [the surgery]. I spent years trying to lose this much weight, and I didn’t do it. I wish I’d done it sooner.”
7. Rebel Wilson
Rebel Wilson sang her way into our hearts with her portrayal of a character who’s literally named Fat Amy. That’s not the only role she’s played that put an emphasis on her body, either. Throughout her career, she was an actress who went out of her way to talk about how much she loved her body. That didn’t stop her from losing a significant amount of weight, angering her considerable fan base. While she did have a lot of support from fans for losing weight, many of her fans were disappointed that Wilson was succumbing to the siren call of Hollywood saying that thin is better. Many people even went so far to call Wilson a hypocrite for losing weight despite making her name and celebrity with playing fat characters.
6. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah‘s weight has gone up and down over the course of her career. Then again, Queen Latifah’s legacy has changed drastically since she first came to fame. At first, she didn’t seem to care about her weight, but that assumption was challenged when she started shilling for Jenny Craig, a program not unlike Weight Watchers. No one really said anything about that since many celebrities go on to endorse programs like Jenny Craig and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, when news broke that Latifah was also involved in a deal with a pair of Fatburger franchises. According to the New York Post, Latifah went out of her way to make sure her role in Fatburger was kept on the down-low specifically because of her involvement with Jenny Craig. For a woman looking to be a “role model” by focusing on her health, her involvement with Fatburger stinks of hypocrisy.
5. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato has never been fat by any stretch of the imagination, but her weight has fluctuated over the course of her career. A lot of that has to do with her eating disorder recovery, which we’re definitely not talking about here because we’re just glad she’s okay. However, her subsequent weight loss post-recovery and how she handles her body positivity is extremely hypocritical.
For one thing, she’s championing body positivity while pushing what’s essentially a weight loss laxative tea. For another, she has no problem going after Taylor Swift (who’s also problematic but that’s another story for another time) and her friends for being “too thin,” and accused Lady Gaga of glamorizing eating disorders with a prank at SXSW, only to find out that Lady Gaga had an eating disorder for over a decade. She also calls out women who “try too hard” with their makeup. As much as we like her music, she’s definitely a problematic fave who has some issues with hypocrisy.
Mo’Nique has never been thin, but it hasn’t stopped her from accomplishing a lot in Hollywood, including winning an Academy Award. Back in 2013, photos started floating around of Mo’Nique happily displaying a much thinner figure than most were used to at that time. While it’s incredible that Mo’Nique lost all that weight without a surgical procedure, many people were deeply troubled by her complete about-face about weight. She used to constantly talk about how she loved her body, doubling down on that sentiment in her 2004 book. Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World. In the book, the comedienne says: “The only way I’ll ever wear a size 6, or even a 16, is if you add them together. That’s right: I wear a size 22. And I’m proud because I wear it well.” She certainly doesn’t wear a size 22 now! Unfortunately, she never seemed to acknowledge the hypocrisy of her past position on weight as it relates to her current actions.
3. Vanessa Hudgens
Vanessa Hudgens didn’t have an incredibly dramatic weight loss journey, but her weight loss is still noticeable. She gained a lot of weight for the 2013 film Gimme Shelter, and when that was over, she took stock of herself. “I looked in the mirror and was like, ‘Who am I?’” she told Life and Style Magazine. “It was definitely a journey back to myself, and yoga helped.” She got on a strict diet, incorporated yoga into her daily routine, and took the time to work out.
However, her transformation is largely credited to doing Soul Cycle twice a day! “Put me on a bike in a room with loud music, and I’m happy,” the actress explains. “It’s like dancing without the stress of worrying if you look good.” Unlike many of the stars on this list. Hudgens uses her workouts and weight loss journey as a body positive act.“I don’t like to wear T-shirts when I work out because it’s better motivation when I can see my body,” Hudgens told Women’s Health. We can certainly understand that!
2. Raven Symone
Raven Symone‘s weight loss was so dramatic, fans of hers are still talking about it years later! She’s also a star that the world has been watching since she was a small child on The Cosby Show, so she’s been a celebrity for most of her life. However, when she gained weight, the world had a lot to say. “When I was at my heaviest, like 185 pounds, people would be like ‘Are you pregnant? Are you pregnant?’ and I’m like, ‘No, I’m fat, get away from me,'” she shared on The View. “This goes through all of our industry, just fat-shaming in general. Not accepting of females’ bodies.” While she has a lot to say on body shaming, she slimmed down anyway.
While she’s one of the stars that managed to keep her weight off for the long term (a feat that the vast majority of dieters don’t manage), she’s gained a bit of her weight back and she’s totally fine with that, which makes her weight loss journey a lot less hypocritical. She’s gone on record saying that she’s finally found a happy medium now. “I love my thicky, thicky self. But now that I lost weight, it’s like, ‘OK, wait, let me go back in the gym and get it together,'” she told Oprah Winfrey in a 2015 interview.
1. Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham is a really polarizing figure and only gets more polarizing as her career continues. She’s never cared what anyone thinks about her body, which is why in the beginning of her career, she didn’t try losing weight or any of that. Even people who didn’t like her or what she represents could respect her stance about her body. However, when she lost weight to control her endometriosis, many people thought she was being a hypocrite and refusing to practice what she preaches.
Dunham refuses to acknowledge that, stating time and time again that her body is her own and discussing women’s bodies all the time is invasive. “I smile just as wide no matter my current size because I’m proud of what this body has seen and done and represented. Chronic illness sufferer. Body-shaming vigilante. Sexual assault survivor. Raging hottie,” Dunham said. “Right now I’m struggling to control my endometriosis through a healthy diet and exercise. So my weight loss isn’t a triumph and it also isn’t some sign I’ve finally given in to the voices of trolls.” No matter how you feel about her, she has a point.
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