Dealing with pressure to be perfect can be tough on anyone’s body image–even the most cookie-cutter beautiful girl you can think of. But dealing with body image pressures in Hollywood is even harder. Just ask Glee starlet Amber Riley.
Amber, who at a size 16 looks amazing, told MTV, “Hollywood is a very hard place to be in. It really is. Being the person I am, you know, the size I am, being a woman, being a black woman, there’s not a lot of roles for us.” Don’t believe her? Think: When’s the last time you saw a girl who looked anything like Amber in a role other than the sassy best friend, the depressed token “fat girl,” or the title part in Precious? (Though one can argue that The Help gave a lot of black actresses an outlet, they weren’t in Amber’s younger age bracket.)
Thankfully, Amber didn’t give in. “After I did St. Sass, I kept on auditioning,” she said. “I was being offered the girl who sits in the corner and eats all day, the girl who committed suicide because she was fat. I never wanted to play a character that hated herself. I wanted people to know that those aren’t the only roles for people like me, normal girls.” Can we get a hell yes? Please?
She continued: ‘Going to the auditions and having the casting director say, ‘You need to lose a little weight,’ I didn’t understand why people couldn’t accept me for who I was. And the rejection started wearing on my self-esteem.” As a result, Amber actually stopped acting for a while to focus on school. “I’m not going to conform, and hurt myself, and do something crazy to be a size 2. My parents always instilled knowing that your beautiful, that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and that you know who you are.” And then an amen? Thank you.
Amber offered advice that she learned from her folks about the issue. “I’m a healthy person. have great friends around me that are positive. That’s the key to life, is make your own path, set your own rules. There is no set rule, no set look, no set anything! You make your own rules in life, and your own decisions.”
The fact is, not everyone who isn’t a size 2 is upset about it, nor are they unhealthy, and it’s a shame that Hollywood sees anyone who deviates from the “ideal” as being so one-dimensional. Think about it: The “fat” parts are almost all the same, and they’re almost all completely undeveloped, in that the one characteristic those characters have is, well, their weight. Replace “fat” with any other physical attribute–brunette, curly-haired, tall, big eared, rosy-cheeked–and that probably wouldn’t happen. And if it did, it’d be a pretty crappy movie or show.
We’re sending a million high-fives Amber’s way. Glee wouldn’t be Glee without her as Mercedes!
Do you think Hollywood puts too much pressure on stars to be thin? Do you agree that Amber Riley was right to not conform? Who’s your favorite Glee star? Tell us in the comments!