Beanie Feldstein gets candid about overcoming body image issues: 'I'm not the problem. This standard is the problem'

·3 min read

Beanie Feldstein is speaking out about society's beauty standards while recalling early memories of falling victim to body shaming and diet culture.

The 28-year-old spoke about her upbringing and her career with Vogue as she prepares to return to Broadway as Funny Girl's Fanny Brice — a role she felt destined to play. But while reflecting on the ways in which Brice didn't seemingly stand up to society's standards of beauty and success, Feldstein recalled her own experiences.

Beanie Feldstein gets candid about body image. (Photo: Getty Images)
Beanie Feldstein gets candid about body image. (Photo: Getty Images)

"It was clear to me that I was chubby and that I was bigger," she said, "and for a long time, because I was a kid, I would do what the adults were telling me to do, which is to try to not be that way."

Growing up in Los Angeles and having a desire to be in show business didn't help, as Feldstein explained that she fell into the pressure to look a certain way. She said that she had been on diet programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers from age 11 to 13.

"I think I felt a lot of pressure from society, from my family, from my community," she said. "Then around 16 or 17, I just thought, 'I'm fine. There's nothing wrong with me.' One day I realized, 'I'm not the problem. This standard is the problem.'"

Feldstein explained that her parents created boundaries around her involvement in the industry, allowing her to audition for theater productions but not for film or television which "could change the course of your life," they told her. Even the world of musical theater, however, was toxic.

"I have friends who used to have to 'weigh in' for their musical-theater programs," she said. "That should be illegal."

Since being in the spotlight herself, Feldstein has used her platform to speak out about the damaging ways in which people talk about beauty standards, body image and weight. Just after gaining recognition for her role in Lady Bird in 2017, she penned a first-person essay for Refinery29 titled "Please Stop Complimenting Me On My Body."

In it, Feldstein opened up about the "years of pain" she had experienced while suffering from body image issues as a teen. She also shared how those struggles began to impact her again as her celebrity status seemingly made her a target of comments, good and bad, about her appearance.

"And so here's my simple request: Please stop complimenting me! A person's body changing is simply not clearance for you to talk about it," she wrote. "I know that nothing will truly change until we as a society are able to unravel the ingrained notion that thinness is ideal. However, I do hope that on a more interpersonal level, we can attempt to stop commenting on each other's bodies."

While the awareness of society's unrealistic standards and unsolicited commentary may have tainted Feldstein, like so many others, she reflected fondly on the innocence of her younger self before facing all of that pressure.

"My younger self was so unapologetic and deliciously herself," she told Vogue. "I was like, 'Here comes the Bean, watch out.'"

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