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What the Entertainment Industry Needs to Change About Its Standards

Adele’s latest single to her new album, “Easy On Me,” broke records for the most single-day streams on Spotify. Her discography has amassed billions of listeners worldwide since her debut album was released in 2008. After all of her success this year alone, how come the world was focused on her 100-pound weight loss? 

The entertainment industry functions on three major components: talent, connections and physical appearance. For female singers and actresses in the industry, the priorities are as follows: physical appearance, connections, talent. Female artists are favored highly for their bodies in a disproportionate manner to male artists because of the cliche “sex sells.” That isn’t to say that male artists don’t receive any discrimination based on their looks, but the idea is to spotlight the worthiness and admiration that depends on a woman’s body in the media. Rebel Wilson is another artist who has been making headlines for her recent weight loss. Dozens of articles from news outlets appear upon googling her name, “Rebel Wilson, 41, Maintains Her 77-lb Weight Loss by Taking It Easier,” says Women’s Health Magazine. When Will Smith’s name is googled, the results show primarily praise for his performance in the new King Richard film and his book release. Will Smith recently made a YouTube documentary on his weight loss journey post-filming for King Richard, and there are few headlines mentioning it.

Would the acting be as profound if the actress had thinner lips and a wider waist? It may be beneficial to note that women can carry these prejudices surrounding physical appearance and how it affects their careers. Social media, the internet and societal expectations of women are key factors impacting the relationships between women and their bodies. Supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, best known for her appearances in the “Blurred Lines” music video and runway modeling, recently opened up about physical appearances in her new book My Body. In the book, she writes “If you want people to think of you as a good actress, you’re going to need to get ugly.” After all the pressure to look a certain way in the industry and show their talent, women continue to be judged based on their physicality first. Charlize Theron was nominated for a Golden Globe after gaining weight and going bare-faced in the film Tully. Oscar buzz spread when paparazzi photos of Jennifer Aniston showed her wearing no makeup on the set of Cake

“If you want people to think of you as a good actress, you’re going to need to get ugly.”

Male artists can also be perceived as objects to larger audiences. There seems to be either no focus on appearance at all or a sole focus on the physique of male singers and actors. Actor Sam Claflin admitted that there is pressure for men to look muscular and trim in the business, which is an unrealistic physical standard. Furthermore, a hurtful stereotype that “fat is funny” in entertainment paints the idea that larger actors/actresses are only suited to play comedic roles based on the size of their bodies. Rebel Wilson has faced this topic multiple times in regards to her films; Jonah Hill is a common example as well. Although known for his comedic talents, Hill has also been successful in dramatic roles. After a noticeable weight loss and change in appearance, an interviewer asked Hill if he was still the “fat guy at Hollywood parties.” To which he responded, “Do you have any other questions, that are smart?” 

In summary, the entertainment industry needs a change. There’s so much more to artists than their outward appearance, and talent should be the first thing on the list. Next time you’re at the grocery store checkout line, I urge you to read the covers of the tabloid magazines to see the amount of female physicality-based articles vs the male-based ones. I also urge you to listen to Adele’s new album.

Gianna Aceto is a Studio Art major at UCF and has lived in Florida for most of her life. She loves all things art and wants to pursue a career in photography. Her other interests include watching movies, painting, and creating photo shoots. Follow on Instagram @giannaaceto & @giannaacetophoto.
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