Jennifer Garner Awesomely Calls Out Gender Double Standard In Losing Weight For A Movie Or A Baby

shutterstock_159597041Jennifer Garner is my ultimate “mom crush.”  I love her almost as much as I love my own husband, in fact more so in the way she sets an example of a wife, a mother and a creative artist that I strive to be on a daily basis.  She appears down-to-earth, smart and she’s shown her ability to crack a joke on many occasions.  I expected all of that in her most recent Jimmy Kimmel Live appearance and she didn’t disappoint.

Promoting her new movie Dallas Buyers Club, in which she and co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto play characters battling AIDS, she called out the inequality of the attention the men of the movie got for their weight loss.

Garner joked that “all anyone talks about is all the weight those boys lost.  Well, I lost 50 pounds too.  Does anyone want to give me a ticker-tape parade?  No.”

Perhaps it was because she had recently given birth to her third child and they just expected “she had better lose that weight if she ever wants to act again”  whereas the men were perceived to have a choice and they chose to face this “dramatic” weight loss challenge for a role.  Expected for a woman.  Dramatic for a man.  Bullshit all around.

What Jennifer so wisely jokes about is a nuanced and ugly double standard that goes back before this press run.  We all know that women’s bodies — especially during pregnancy and newly post-partum — are scrutinized in the media.  The headlines revolve around our appearances and our physical appeal to the eye.  Men, on the other hand, are rarely the target of physical commentary.  Yet when they are — like Leto and McConaughey — it’s always in the eye of the art.  Headlines celebrate their “amazing transformation” or their “dedication to their work.”

Lest you think it’s just that all of the media is obsessed with weight loss secrets, you need only google interviews with Matt Damon who gained 30 pounds for The Informant or George Clooney who gained the same for Syriana. ”How did you do it?” the breathy reporter (men and women) ask.  As if the feat of gaining 30 pounds must be lauded — because it’s a man and they are doing it for a role.  Amazing.

Yet as soon as a woman announces her pregnancy (and by the way, can we have a side bar for whatever is in the water that’s getting EVERYONE pregnant?  Olivia Wilde, Kristin Cavallari, Kerry Washington, Gwen Stefani) all eyes are on her saying, “now don’t go and get fat!”  You know, for GROWING A HUMAN BEING.  But “gaining weight” for a role?  Please discuss your commitment to your craft.  It’s a disgusting double standard, but Jennifer Garner has given me some ideas to reverse it.  I’m starting with asking every pregnant woman I know or write about with breathless awe, “how are you doing it?  Gaining weight for the perpetuation of the human race?  Tell us all the details. You are beautiful, talented and amazing.  Keep at it.”

(photo: s_bukley /

You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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    • rrlo

      Oddly, the ladies get accolades for gaining weight… remember Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones?

      • chickadee

        Yes, because it’s considered brave to risk losing public approval or to jeopardize their perception of you as ‘attractive’ because you put on weight — because the culture perceives non-skinny women to be unattractive.

        How awesome it was of Renee Zellweger to make herself ‘fat’ and less desirable!

      • Ligeia

        I thought she looked pretty awesome as Bridget, if that is ‘fat’ then I’d like to be fat :)

      • chickadee

        So did I — which is why I think the accolades for bravely gaining weight were so ludicrous.

      • rrlo


      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Yeah, but her interviews about it were kind of shitty. Because she acted like it was so hard to gain weight and she just ate donuts all day and it was so gross. Does she think fat people just eat donuts all day? It kind of pissed me off.

      • chickadee

        I don’t actually think she was awesome – I too think she made a seriously big deal about how awful the implications were of having to gain THAT MUCH WEIGHT….she came off as a real ass.

      • chickadee

        I don’t actually think she was awesome – I too think she made a seriously big deal about how awful the implications were of having to gain THAT MUCH WEIGHT….she came off as a real ass.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Sorry about the shitty wording I had. I knew you were being sarcastic and yet responded like a moron. I think I wrote that after my brain went to bed, but my replying fingers were still going.

      • Eileen

        Hmm, if I remember, she actually said that it was kind of fun to be able to eat the spaghetti AND the garlic bread, but that after awhile she didn’t feel as good and enjoyed going back to her usual diet.

        And honestly, I don’t think losing fifty pounds to go back to your usual weight after having a baby is as big a deal as losing fifty pounds off your regular, already-lean body. Jason Segel lost weight to do “The Five Year Engagement,” but since he had gotten a little softer in the past few years, no one grilled him about it or particularly praised him for it. It’s only the guys who lose weight to play heroin addicts or people dying from AIDS that get the weight-loss accolades.

      • Skipper

        Or just ugging up in general – like Charlize Theron in Monster.

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