Drew Barrymore Weaponizes Her Internalized Fatphobia

Drew Barrymore TwitterBefore we get to the post today, I have some exciting news. The Mighty, a fat-positive digital health community, has chosen 50 of their contributors to be designated as “Super Contributors” and I’m honored to be one of them!

Here’s my first piece as a Super Contributor:

Drew Barrymore is talented and accomplished by any standard — an actress since the age of 6, and a director and producer who owns her own production company. But as a woman who is not naturally a size zero in an industry that relentlessly holds women to a nearly impossible standard of beauty (rooted in extreme thinness, whiteness, ageism and ableism) her weight has been a topic of conversation for nearly as long as she has.

Throughout her career, Barrymore has had the experience that research tells us nearly everyone who attempts weight loss will have — losing weight for a while, then gaining it back again. Lather, rinse, repeat. This process, technically called “weight cycling” (often called yo-yo dieting) has seen her repeatedly gain and lose weight, with her messaging fluctuating with her weight as well — from co-opting the language of Size Acceptance activism at the higher points on her weight cycle, to embracing the language of diet culture during the lows. For example:

Read the full piece here! 

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Dealing With Fatphobia At The Doctor’s Office

We’ll discuss tips, tricks, and techniques for getting evidence-based, weight-neutral (and sometimes even fat-positive!) care from doctors and other healthcare practioners, even in a fatphobic healthcare system. There will be lots of time for Q&A, a recording will be provided, and there is a pay-what-you-can option.

Details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members

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Wellness for All Bodies Program:A simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

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18 thoughts on “Drew Barrymore Weaponizes Her Internalized Fatphobia

  1. Hi Ragen, Congratulations on your MIGHTY! Up at the crack of what? I’m in Spokane, WA my kitteh has found a flyyy thing to chase around my bedroom…. NO one sleeps tonight ME OW! Now, I will read article, then smarm out a reply!

    1. Thanks! I’m not so much up early as I am up late – I’m in the middle of a pretty nasty bout of insomnia/sleep disturbance so I’m just trying to roll with it and be productive when I can 🙂 But I’m not being kept awake by a kitten impersonating an over-caffeinated toddler so I’ve got that going for me lol

      1. Insomnia is a weird customer. You feel wide awake, but off…. I hope it goes away. I tried not punishing myself for it and just used the energy for something else. There’ be things to do or not do. Sleep will return…Aggie managed t chase the bug into another room, so I don’t have to wait for the lamp to fall on my head…

  2. Good about triggers. Not sure I’d get triggered, but like seeing dead animals in the road, I’d just assume NOT! Fact is, for permanent weight loss, many women would/will have to develop an eating disorder or a hyper-neg-necessary amount of time in the gym. One of the reasons diet food stuffs BS companies can get away with it. THEY ALL WORK. If you can manage to not only live on them, for the rest of your life, but shave off bit by bit the calories you do take in to make up for your bodies discovery, that your new normal, is just west of ice age starvation mode. Wash, rinse, repeat, invest just a leeetle more time and money in depriving yourself of just a few more calories, yes, its OK, people lose organs every day, quit whining.

  3. Still reading. “Damn you genetics”. Yeah, she wont want that one out there, if she is trying to SELL something, you only get paid for skinny smiley and the product/program made the pounds/inches/flab/fatcells/money fall away!

    And what is “stan” in your article? Some you stan? Is it new slang or a miss type? I don’t know what to put in?

  4. Way. While people in the entertainment industry still hide queer/gay/bi/lesbian sexuality for any number of reasons, and racism is still alive and very unwell, you wont get a box to stand on let alone applause for back tracking on those themes. Only works when it is so obviously something NOBODY IN HOLLYWOOD CAN BE AND BE A VIABLE HOLLYWOOD CITIZEN. Fat. You can be a drug-addict, ‘difficult to work with’, an alcoholic, a rapist, embezzler, even a child molester and have a career in tinsel town. You gain five pounds, and you have violated every sacred article in and very probably rendered null and void your contract to be one of the “Beautiful People” in HOLLYWOOD LAND.

    Conversion couch. The whole town, country is a conversion couch for ‘obesity related issues’. Including that three pound weight gain you THINK no one notices. Hollywood is a strange-not real place full of strange not real people, but they have a hell of a platform and a very big audience. They have been telling the world what beauty/attractiveness and human value is for over a century now. They packaged their product and sold it to the world so long, the world thinks its real. True, fact. The Way Things/People should be. How people should look.

    Drew is dangerous. She is “meddling with the powers that be”. Every few years she appears to “bite the hand that feeds her”. Unfortunately, for people who live and thrive in HOLLYWOOD, the feeding hand and the strangling hand are the same hand.

    I think it was inevitable “Body Positivity” got co-opted. We’ll never really be positive/OK/open to “other” body types. There are other bodies sure, but the Best Bodies are thin ones and if you can’t manage that, at least be as un-fat bodied as possible. We’re positive we like to pretend we embrace all women’s bodies all the time, but we don’t. Just read the script. Maybe the juxtaposition IS her platform. Crazy thing to pull. Like the, I believe Naomi’ Wolfe’s book “The Beauty Myth” about this topic 27 years ago. Beauty industry crazy, how they decry the “images of ageless, line less hip less cover girl” culture all the while promoting it. I think this might be one of those instances like Audre Lorde wrote about. “The masters tools can never tear down the masters house.”?

    Found it: “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”.

    I think Drew is hungry and wants to be pretty in a world where being pretty is the only thing that matters if you’re female. To want to be you true, authentic self in Hollywood has no cash value. Unless you Fit The Bill. And you, as an actress, only get that for 6.4 years. Then, you’re yesterday. Bring in the New Girl.

    Of course she’s holding two juxtaposed positions and teetering back and forth between them. Unfortunately, she’s not just hurting herself. Especially in the age of instant connection and constant judgment. Her words are as nails in the coffin on every young girls hopes to be allowed to grow up free-positive-healthy-unharrassed and shaped how ever her body is NOW.

    Maybe Drew keeps playing because she keeps hoping she’ll win. Maybe for her, being fat, in Hollywood IS a kind of Karmic punishment. It certainly looks like one. I don’t Do religion, so Karma is up there with flat white men in the sky and marrying thirteen year old girls. I wonder, does she wonder what her punishment might be in her next incarnation? For this life of either failing to ‘get her bodily urges (hunger) under control, or for serving up such hateful bile to the vulnerable unseen thousands who are listening to her?

  5. Congrats!

    And the “karmic retribution” line was just depressing, because those right there? Those are the words of someone who’s given diet culture everything, loyally followed all its lore, loyally followed all its rules, received none of the promised results for all their sacrifice and hard work… and has decided “I sinned in a past life” is a more likely explanation for that than “diet culture was lying.”

    1. That is the ick factor. I always over analyze things! You got it in one paragraph. No salvation, after all the work and hunger. “Bad Genes= Bad Karma”. WETF.

  6. I remember doing it myself, coming up with reasons my mysterious non-losses and regains were my fault, everything from the reasonable-sounding-if-you-don’t-think-too-hard-about-it “I must have miscalculated my micro-calories” to desperation as obvious as “My immoral behavior has triggered an ancient fat curse.”

    I looked it up. Apparently, this is called maladaptive self-blame and it’s a coping mechanism seen in survivors of trauma inflicted by something they can’t control (violence, disasters). By placing the blame for the trauma on something they CAN control- namely, themselves- the survivor feels safer in the belief they can stop the bad thing from ever happening again by figuring out what they “did wrong” to cause it and vowing to never do that again.

    It’s creepy fat people are encouraged… some might even say indoctrinated… to view our bodies like this.

    1. Uber creepy and oh so profitable. To both billion dollar businesses built on/to benefit from it and the salve it feeds to the ‘not-fat’ in the world. We love the “you brought it on yourself’ stance. Keeps us to safe. Anything we don’t want to happen to “us” can be avoided by simply not asking for it. Lovely.

  7. Ragen, I know somewhere in the archives are posts where you talk about how to handle it when a relative or friend is losing weight and really wants to be complimented for it and supported in doing it. Could you point me to those posts? My cousins and I text several times a day and two of them (one man, one woman) are several weeks into diets and are texting all the time about how much they’ve lost, the low-calorie stuff they’re eating, etc. My sister and my other cousin have been praising them — “Good for you, congratulations, that’s great, keep it up”, that sort of thing.

    So far I’ve just kept silent, but I’d really appreciate rereading your words of wisdom on how to handle this sort of thing. I love my cousins and I don’t want to hurt their feelings by just ignoring them, but I can’t in good conscience “support” them or congratulate them for doing something that I know is just going to lead to disappointment at best (they’ve both lost and regained more times than I can count in the past, as had I before I jumped off that train) and damage to their health at worst. Help! (and thanks)

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I’m so sorry that you are dealing with this. I think these two posts might be helpful. If they weren’t what you were looking for then just let me know and I’ll take another swing at it!


      This can help with boundary setting, even when it’s not the holidays: https://danceswithfat.org/2016/11/23/handling-the-friends-and-family-food-police/

      You’ve also inspired me to write a blog post about this specific situation that will likely come out early next week!

      If there’s anything I can do to help just let me know.

      1. Thank you so much, Ragen! I’ll really look forward to seeing what you blog about this.

        The first link was the one I was remembering, I think — “I’m glad you’re happy” might work (though on texts there’s always the danger of the tone sounding snippy when I don’t mean it to, especially since I’ve said nothing at all for several days now). Cousin 1 just texted that he’s now down 25 pounds and everyone is saying “Congratulations, that’s great . . . ” Sigh. I’m going out for a walk.

    2. I hope Regan has tips. I fold n these. I say cool and change the subject. I am to confrontation like bananas are the wool sweaters. Yeah, not on the same page. Can’t even do passive aggressive. That’s lovely, we can got get a bite when you’re back on the real life side of it. Put a dollar in a jar for every dollar spent on the program, we can go someplace really nice…

      1. Well, “cool!!” with a smiley emoji might just do the trick here. Thanks, Jen! It’s all the more complicated since we live in different states and of course I don’t know when I’ll see them again since travel isn’t possible now . . .

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