Is Lily James’ Skinny-Shaming Just as Bad as Kelly Clarkson’s Fat-Shaming?

Mar 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm |

Lily James is just as tired of people talking about her body as Kelly Clarkson is – but is the shame the same?

The stunning Cinderella actress’ body came under microscopic analysis after movie goers started claiming that her waist had been digitally altered to look as petite as possible. Since then, James has been forced to defend her own figure, and publicly claim that indeed the waist was ‘untouched.’

Recently in an interview with Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani on HuffPost live, James voiced her frustration with needing to justify her own body and the way in which women’s bodies are picked apart regardless of their shape. “On one hand it’s upsetting, on the other hand it’s just boring,” says James. “Why do women always get pointed at for their bodies? And why is this whole thing happening and I’m constantly having to justify myself? International Women’s Day has just gone, and it just feels just a bit sad that it’s still happening. You know, I’m very healthy and I always have been.”

Cinderella’s director, British Shakespearean Kenneth Branagh came to his star’s defense, claiming that both the lighting and the “natural body physics” caused by the costuming – she’s wearing a period corset for goodness sake – made her look tiny, but all the ingredients were completely natural.

Prince Charming, Richard Madden, also came to his lady’s rescue vouching that “she eats like a boy.”

Similarly, for the past month the media and people like British personality Katie Hopkins have been attacking Kelly Clarkson’s body – but for gaining too much weight, and failing to loose it quickly enough after giving birth to her daughter River Rose.


While fat-shamming is a well-understood term, and clearly more normative in a culture in which we gnaw and tear at female body parts that don’t suit our ideal liking – might not skinny-shamming be just as bad? After all, both of these women have been forced to stand up and tell people that they embrace their bodies and feel that they are healthy, ultimately shutting out the public criticism.

Rachel Baker of the Yale Herald claims that these types of shaming are absolutely different and should be weighed differently – in the way that old white men have the inability to complain about being pigeonholed as being old white men. “Being skinny is a form of privilege, in the same way that being white, wealthy, heterosexual, cisgendered, or able-bodied is a form of privilege,” Baker writes.

“There are a series of societal benefits and advantages that come with being skinny, and these benefits serve to marginalize those who do not fit into a very narrowly defined notion of the acceptable female body type…Being in [this] position of power means that while you may encounter individual instances of prejudice, you will never be subjected to a system of prejudice.”

So while both ladies have dealt with being analyzed and criticized, James’ inherent position of cultural power as a skinny girl puts her in a less marginalized position that Kelly Clarkson. However, shaming is shaming either way you look at it – and the only real solution is eliminate the ‘fat’ and ‘skinny’ finger pointing altogether.

James’ initial response is heartening though. She calls the whole situation “boring.” If we put an emphasis on how truly ‘boring’ it is to wind-up these isolated topics for debate, gradually the shame game will come to an end – and everyone’s body image can finally live happily ever after.

Are the rules the same for both sides of the shame game, or are they incomparable? Click here…