The Game of Thrones alum candidly detailed the regimented lifestyle she adopted (Picture: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
I thought wrong.
Maisie Williams recently revealed the shocking ways in which she acquired an ‘emaciated’ appearance for her TV show The New Look, in which she plays Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine.
It was a harrowing read, to say the least, as the Game of Thrones alum candidly detailed the regimented lifestyle she adopted, from heavily restricting food intake to running on little sleep.
I won’t divulge anything further because, quite frankly, it’s not needed. This grim story exists in many forms online already and I refuse to add to the pile.
Maisie herself – who is only 26 – admitted she experienced sleep paralysis and frequently hallucinated ‘horrible visions’ as a result, making it clear how preparation for the role sucked all zest and vibrancy from her life.
So, I beg someone to explain to me, not only why actors are still torturing their bodies for our visual entertainment, but why are they publicising such dangerous weight loss methods without a sliver of consideration for the consequences?
I started struggling with disordered eating at a very young age. I had desires to restrict from my early primary school years, which snowballed into full-blown anorexia at the age of 12. It ruined my life and stole such valuable time from me that I will never get back.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t triggered massively by Maisie’s revelations (Picture: Eric Charbonneau/Getty Images for Apple TV+)
Crucially, as soon as I had access to the internet, I was obsessively Googling weight loss techniques and adopting any bizarre methods I could on my quest for thinness and control.
Pro-anorexia Tumblr was my safe haven specifically. I spent hours scrolling through the darkest, most disturbing content you can imagine while my family remained blissfully unaware. While they assumed I was studying, I was actually revising the best ways to conceal my starvation from them.
This is why it terrifies me to hear Maisie and others like her so freely discussing the extreme lengths she went to for weight loss for this role.
I know all too well how people with eating disorders will fixate on the bodies of their favourite A-listers and the treacherous paths they ventured down to have them.
I did it myself. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t triggered massively by Maisie’s revelations.
And yet, despite the prevalence of eating disorders and body image woes in our society, TV and film stars are yet to learn.
Whether it’s Oprah Winfrey and Sharon Osbourne going off about Ozempic or someone like Maisie sharing how little she ate for a sought-after role, celebrities continuously prove how uneducated they are and how normalised disordered eating has become.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of an actor transforming to play a character and, sadly, I doubt it’ll be the last.
I will never forget watching The Machinist for the first time, jaw on the floor as I took in Christian Bale’s woeful appearance, later venturing to Wikipedia to discover the alarming ways in which he lost almost half his body weight. He went to similar lengths for his parts in The Fighter and Rescue Dawn.
The washed-out, scrawny, Tim Burton character ‘look’ is slowly making its way back to the trending list
An example that will remain embedded in my mind, though, is Lily Collins and the controversial role she played in To The Bone, a movie I have only ever watched five minutes of over three separate attempts, due to how spine-chillingly triggering it is.
The much-loved actress is now recovered but has a history of eating disorders in her own life. She previously said that losing weight for the job was important to do it justice, and explained how she worked with nutritionists to do it ‘in the most safe, healthy way possible’.
Hearing her talk about this in interviews made me want to scream into an abyss. Whether intentional or not, there is only one way for such dialogue to be interpreted by people with eating disorders.
The much-loved actress is now recovered but has a history of eating disorders in her own life (Picture: Gotham/GC Images)
We live at a time where awareness of eating disorders is arguably at an all-time high and for that I am so grateful. At the height – or should I say depths – of my own struggles, eating disorders were much more taboo.
But, like with everything in life, there’s a downside.
With awareness of eating disorders comes a repackaged version of diet culture, in which celebrities and influencers now need to be creative to promote their ghastly weight loss schemes to avoid criticism.
TikTok is a fine example, from the whole concept of ‘girl dinner’ and the glamorisation of being fuelled by nothing but coffee, to legging legs, undereye bags suddenly becoming cool, the washed-out, scrawny, Tim Burton character ‘look’ is slowly making its way back to the trending list.
So when celebrities, albeit unknowingly, contribute to this toxic culture of treating weight loss as an accomplishment, I can’t help but feel like I’m being transported back to my days of doom scrolling on Tumblr and being infatuated with storylines like Cassie in Skins and Hannah in Hollyoaks.
I don’t doubt there’ll be people arguing: ‘Well, how is it different from gaining weight? What about when actors make their bodies bigger for roles?’
I get it. But the fact of the matter is, while neither extreme thinness nor extreme obesity are objectively healthy, only one side of the spectrum is glamorised while the other is demonised.
It’s difficult to remain hopeful, I’ll admit. But I keep coming back to examples of stars who have shone a light on toxic weight loss methods and it instils me with some optimism.
Zac Efron is my favourite reference for this, having undertaken the most gruelling exercise regime for Baywatch to transform into what can only be described as the Hulk. Women lusted after him and men aspired to be him. But, during the film’s press run, he vocalised his concerns, reminding fans that his shredded physique was ‘stupid’ because he was so miserable, telling guys: ‘Be your size.’
And that’s what we need more of. Celebrities not only keeping schtum about their own weight loss journeys, but actively reminding the public not to take ‘health’ advice from film stars.
A note to stars everywhere: stay in your lane. Be on your own journey. Just don’t force your damaging weight loss techniques onto us. We didn’t ask.
If you suspect you, a family member or friend has an eating disorder, contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or at email@example.com, for information and advice on the best way to get appropriate treatment
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