Jennifer 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.”