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Anne Hathaway in Les Mis: Emaciated is the new radiant!

It seems that losing weight the “healthy” way is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Anne Hathaway was selected to play Fantine in the film adaptation of Les Miserables, and in order to play the part, she lost 25 pounds over the course of a few weeks.
Fantine, a “consumptive factory worker-turned-prostitute” dying of tuberculosis, is supposed to look almost skeletal. Vogue profiled Hathaway for their November issue, and the article explains Hathaway’s diet and exercise regimen before and during the shooting:
Before the start of shooting, she went on a strict cleanse and lost ten pounds, which in the early scenes of the film gives her a gossamer quality. She then took two weeks off and lost another fifteen pounds by following a near-starvation diet, consisting of two thin squares of dried oatmeal paste a day.”

Yuck. We recognize that actors and actresses lose weight for roles all the time; what’s disturbing is how the Vogue article characterizes and glamorizes Hathaway’s weight loss.

 The article spends a significant amount of time discussing the emaciated look Hathaway had to emulate, but then describes her as “very thin, though not unhealthy looking.” Somehow, Hathaway had to look “simultaneously emaciated and radiant,” though Hathaway herself labeled the look “near death.” Am I the only one picking up on some mixed messages here?

Are readers supposed to applaud Hathaway’s weight loss, or cringe at the diet she had to follow? How can a person look “very thin” and “near death,” but “not unhealthy?”

In order for these details to be in the Vogue article, the author had to have asked how Hathaway lost the weight. Granted, descriptions of her diet only constitute a small portion of the entire article — but the fact that they are present at all is a testament to how closely Americans monitor actresses’ bodies. The article mentions Hathaway’s childhood dreams, her beyond-beautiful voice, and her experiences shooting the film; her descriptions of dried oatmeal paste seem trivial and out of place in comparison.

Luckily, Hathaway admits that the weight-loss process was atypical and excessive. She said, “Looking back on the whole experience… it was definitely a little nuts.” Finally, a sentiment we can all agree on!

Hailey Magee is a Women’s and Gender Studies and Politics double major at Brandeis University. Her foremost interests include media literacy and empowerment of young girls. Hailey hopes to one day pursue a career in the political arena and become an advocate for gender equality.

7 thoughts on “Anne Hathaway in Les Mis: Emaciated is the new radiant!

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  1. Hearing this is enough to make me not watch the film. That is so dangerous and unethical to ask an actress to starve. Eating disorders have become so commonplace in Hollywood that they don’t even seem to realize that what they are asking their actors to do could be deadly.

    And then to glamorize it is so unethical. I don’t think this will stop until more high profile people die of eating disorders.

    Becky Henry
    Hope Network, LLC

  2. Please research “beauty redefined” you will LOVE their work and it correlates so beautifully with your ideas and feelings and awarenesses

  3. very realistic. people dying from tuberculosis DO tend to look “radiant” and “thin, but not unhealthy”. I say, as long as they were going for realism, why didn’t they give her cystic acne, clubbed fingers, and neck scrofula, as well?

  4. The article fails to mention how awesome Anne is somehow. When asked about her diet on the Today show and her secret to losing weight, she refused to talk about it, saying that she “wanted to look like she was dying” and people associate dieting with trying to look healthy. Anne wanted to look deathly, and didn’t want others to try it.
    I say good for Anne…

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  6. I almost became anorexic… I ate 200-600 kcals a day for 5 months… I was 22 lbs underweight and had BMI of 16.1. I’m sooo glad I didnt become anorexic.

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