Angelina Jolie was Once a Chunky Young Woman

Rob and I decided to snuggle up with the computer Thursday night and watch a dvd in bed, as is our wont. We have four selections from the bookmobile currently in queue. Nothing upbeat however, which earlier events of the evening screamed out the need for, so we chose the least evil – Playing God with David Duchovney, Timothy Hutton and Angelina Jolie.

To say this was a B movie would be a great injustice to B movies. Bad acting abounded. Hutton’s channeling of Jack Nicholson couldn’t even save it, and I personally found it oddly distracting to hear Jack and see Tim.

I love Hutton. Have since I first saw him in Taps when I was junior in high school. Being a Catholic school kid, I naturally loved movies where kids outthink and and outclever preening, officious adults, and Taps is the ultimate private school kid’s fantasy of takeover and take no prisoners while doing so. My soft spot for Duchovney stems from The X-Files. I loved Fox Mulder. Misfit. Misunderstood. Fighting a nebulous authoritarian entity bent on maintaining a population numbing status quo for the benefit of the elite and the powerful. It appealed to the peon public school teacher that I was at the time. That and I just love tv and movies with well-written, snappy and intelligent dialogue. Give me character depth over mindless action any day. Nuff said.

The movie dates itself though with Jolie. It had to have been one of her earliest roles because the girl had meat on her bones. Not fat however. By normal people standards – even accounting for the slightest of imaginative stretches – the woman was still thin. A form fitting red silken pants suit she wears in the final scenes, that would have made any real person look like a raw sausage,  and showed clearly that Jolie was in fine shape. Still, it was odd not to see the collarbones, sternum/ribs and emaiciated cheekbones that make her lips even larger and scarier.

The visible ribs and sternum are de rigor for “older” actresses these days. I was noticing it yet again last weekend when Rob and I were watching The Inside Man. Jodie Foster couldn’t have looked more like a female Skeletor if she’d set out to do just that. The Dachau survivor look is partly a female over-reaction to middle-age (and I do know firsthand of what I speak) and in the case of women in the spotlight like Hollywood actresses, it is the only way they can stay ahead of the pretty young things who are allowed to be a bit rounded when they first start out and still considered beautiful. The reason for this abbreation in my opinion seems a bit pedophilic on the part of the old men who run the movie business, but that is just my opinion.

Round and middle-aged just spells f-a-t to most men past twenty-five, and who sets the beauty standards? They do. Brandon over at WWTDD had a piece this past week on male preferred female body types (okay – his preferred but I am thinking that he is not the minority on this issue), and he states that skinny with big breasts is best. (Just as an aside – my body type – is not preferred except by my husband who is not a dirty old man or a silly twenty-something boy).

Sad what the pressure to conform does to most actresses, and ordinary women, eventually. I was thinking about Angelina and writing this piece when I was getting ready for my workout at the gym this morning. Today was weights, abs, stretching and then walking. A full work-out. An abbrievated one, like yesterday, because I had to hustle up to get to my daughter’s school to help with the field trip into the museum in the city, is abs, stretching and shorter walk.

So, as I was tying up my shoelaces and setting the iPod score for the morning activities – because mood is important – I notice two women getting ready, without much enthusiasm, for the exercise class that meets in the gym.

I don’t take those pseudo-aerobic post Jane Fonda classes. Took only one class like that in my life when I was in college. I needed a final P.E. credit for graduation, and it was the only class left with openings. I have never loathed exercise so much as I did those 9 weeks.

One of the women was complaining that despite not eating (it sounded as though they were both doing some sort of fast) and coming to work out, she felt bloated and sick and was sure she had gained weight. The other woman questioned her a bit  but could only offer sympathy and as I was leaving I overheard the first woman say she was tempted to just start using a laxative. Now, I didn’t catch all the conversation. They looked over at me quite a bit while they were talking and whispered a bit – afraid I was listening (I was) and waiting for me to leave. I could have interjected and offered some advice based on my own experience, but I didn’t. Both women were very overweight. I would say if not morbidly obese than darn close on the BMI scale. And I remembered when I was very heavy. I didn’t want to hear anything from thinner women about how they did it.

I assumed that all thin women were genetic lottery winners anyway, and I know now that many thinner women lie like rugs about how they got or stay thin. My own sister was the Dexatrim Princess in her teens in her fight against weight, and a lot of women simply don’t eat or use excessively amounts of exercise to maintain their “I’m just naturally thin” appearances.

Celebrities in particular are notorious for questionable weight loss and maintenance methods. The majority of the population is not gifted with thinness that requires nothing to achieve.

I walked upstairs to the weight room thinking about those women. I remembered when I was first starting to jog back in college. I was chunky. The excess flesh on my legs and belly jiggled when I ran though I couldn’t feel that movement as keenly as I do today. I didn’t have the spatial sense of myself then that I have earned through years of running and other activities. It was not easy to put on shorts and go down to the field across from the Student Union and run everyday. The Union was a lunch mecca and my P.E. class was at 12:30 in the afternoon. There were people everywhere. But running was like teaching would later turn out to be for me – in my blood. A combination of running and having to walk everywhere during my college days eventually thinned me, and I continued to tone up and thin as I added a variety of activities to my repetoire as I got older.  

Aside from pregnancy, I have really never been overweight since then, but I remember those days and I feel deeply for heavy and overweight women when I see them at the gym or out jogging or walking. Their effort is more than a physical one. While some people cannot fathom the idea that celebrities can be learned from in any way, my Jolie encounter Thursday night reminded me once again that it is all women who are damaged by the inane and arbitrary beauty standards of our society. No one is immune.

12 thoughts on “Angelina Jolie was Once a Chunky Young Woman

  1. “running was like teaching would later turn out to be for me – in my blood”

    Great analogy, totally put things into perspective for me! 🙂

  2. Neil, I don’t buy halo regardless of who the media hangs it on, but in her particular case the child collecting thing is off-putting and creepy – jmo. However, it’s not related to the piece. As I explained to Greg, she was merely a catalyst, but she is an example of what happens as women age – especially women whose looks are central to their identity (which as an actress it would be) – they tend to get thinner and it shows and the contrast between their younger healthy weight selves is obvious. I could have used any number of actresses: Helen Hunt, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore (though she flucuates), Ellen Barkin, Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Aruqette. I am sure you could think of even more. Thin or the constant drive to be thin, as the average woman doesn’t have the resources and hours in a day to devote to body work that a celebrity does, is an aging woman thing and it is dictated by society. Women know this.

  3. Hmm, you don’t buy the ‘halo hype’ of Angie and you make sure we know that. Too bad you couldn’t comment on the fact that Angie mostly aggrees with your opinion (on this issue).

  4. Anniegirl: I did respond, admitting my presumptions and need to get off it with my apologies and thanks to your recent observation of me.
    Like me often, with others, “ass” and “asinine” responses to blogs are much too prevalent. Mea Culpa, again.
    What did happen to my first response to your apt critique of it?

  5. Greg, lighten up. I was watching a movie. Jolie was in it. She was obviously more filled out than I can remember seeing her in years. She was healthy looking and thin (I did say she was thin). Do you troll the web looking for chances to defend her? I only ask because you don’t seem to care at all about what I said about Jodie Foster. I don’t buy for a minute the halo-hype that surrounds her and her Mia Farrowish brood, but she was merely a plucked from a moment in my life example and nothing more. I don’t follow celebrities. I don’t watch TV. I don’t read People. I do know that the shallow beauty standards and prejudices against normal sized women is a bad thing and it has an effect.

  6. “Damaged” is not my word but the writer’s. Read her writing with more attention. Whose “honesty”? My comments said in affect:
    All women are not damaged. That many, with self appraisal intact,
    would see themselves, join a group (TV’s Big Losers), contact someone with healthy and dietary knowledge to help them over come their problem. If intelligent, would look, not compare, with the extremely thin and anorexic types, but with the healthy, well adjusted woman around them, others in the media, who aren’t in the extreme with their choices of physical image. Jolie, after many stupid comments about her thinness, admonished all super skinniness as unhealthy and not to be admired or copied by anyone. Thus we have honest choices about our looks. If we are all “damaged” unretrievably. where is hope/change for anyone?

  7. Thank you for your thoughts today and the past few days about women and weight issues. Many of us must deal with this. You are not “damaged”,just honest. Greg above is clueless.

  8. Didn’t Angelina make a positive comment about the issue of her weight, inferring that she was very aware of it and was neither proud or ashamed of it?

  9. I don’t get Anniegirl’s basic concept or even if there is one. But, I do believe, whatever her point is, using Angelina Jolie in this case as an example (for what I’m not sure) appears arbitrary. Looking back at the earlier teen and pre-teen shots when working within her brother’s plays, her appearance (s) in minor roles with her father, her modeling, she is no example of working against any “chubby”, flabby appearance. She seems to appear more skinny than her peer group’s “normal” youth fatness. I, also, fell with in thatskinny category. As I developed, went through mid teens with a little more on my bones, I, then became again, my slender self into my my present 80’s. No extra effort, no diet, no concentration on my body. My father, too, went from skinny to slender and remained so all his life. (Lucky genes, maybe). But back to Ms Jolie: She only does particular exercise for the strength needed for her movie’s stunt scenes, she does herself. Her strength is there along with her so called wanted(?) skinniness. You need a lot of strength to be in such good shape, to carry 2 children Zara and Pax in arms at one time. All women are damaged? Hardly. No way. Obesity is mainly laziness, not seeing themselves as others see them, crap diet, bitching instead of discipline, with no self respect. Only the intellectually challenged would allow “movie stars” and models be their role models. Or the undeveloped values of our youth. (With obese parents?) Ms Jolie’s attention, using her native intelligence saw how most of the world lives, and
    then her self indulgences, her selfishness and self-concentration was not the way she wanted to live. or should. Without further ado, she became an ambassador for children.s and refugee’s causes, traveling commercial at her expense, asking only for attention of the world’s sufferings. She gives 1/3rd of her large income to charities, etc. for her “work” as she calls her acting. All emphasis is on family, humanitarian needs , acting. Not on ego, not on self image, or preening for the pap’ attention or the tabloid rags. She cares not for how she looks but wants the world’s attention and money to where it’s needed. Thank Gawd, all women are not damaged and concentrating on misconceived essays written like your’s. Let the fatties, if no medical reasons, concentrate on self-discipline, self-respect instead, and to build themselves an ego. You do write well, but unfortunately without a logical premise or result.

  10. This is a beautifully written, and something I will show to my daughter when she returns to me. I have long had a problem with things like “Oscar Night on the red carpet” where women are saluted for looking like skeletons. Thank you for your insight.

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