In her speech at ELLE’s Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, Jennifer Lawrence shared some of the “degrading and humiliating” experiences she has had in Hollywood.
After acknowledging that hearing about the sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein had been “harrowing,” Lawrence recounted a story about the producers of an unnamed film, who asked her to lose weight. “One girl before me had already been fired for not losing enough weight fast enough,” the actress said. “And, during this time, a female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much, much thinner than me. And we all stood side-by-side with only paste-ons covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.”
Lawrence is known for speaking her mind, yet she says that didn’t make a difference on this specific occasion. “I asked to speak to a producer about the unrealistic diet regime and he responded by telling me he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat, he thought I was perfectly ‘fuckable.’
The actress recalled that she felt “trapped” due to her relative lack of power: “I couldn’t have gotten a producer or a director or a studio head fired. I let myself be treated a certain way because I felt like I had to for my career. I was young and walking that fine line of sticking up for myself without being called difficult, which they did call me, but I believe the word they used was “nightmare.”
“I didn’t want to be a whistleblower. I didn’t want these embarrassing stories talked about in a magazine. I just wanted a career,” Lawrence said. But after she was cast in the Hunger Games films, things changed—because she had become “a movie star,” who had “the power to say no.” “I worked out every day because Katniss is strong, but I would be damned if I was going to represent the ideal that someone who looks skeletal is a positive body image. I was not going to have young girls skipping dinner because they wanted to look like Katniss.”
The actress expressed her support of the commission proposed by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, adding that, “in a dream world, everyone is treated with the exact same level of respect. But, until we reach that goal, I will lend my ear. I will lend my voice to any boy, girl, man, or woman who does not feel like they can protect themselves.” Given her own knowledge of the trials young women can go through in the film industry, she offered solidarity to others in a similar position: “I want you to know we’re here for you. We’re all here for each other. Together, now, we will stop this kind of behavior from happening. We will stop normalizing these horrific situations. We will change this narrative and make a difference for all of those individuals pursuing their dreams.”
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