“Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland has always been open with fans about her health struggles. In a recent social media post, the actress shared a photo of herself with the caption “Skeletor party of 1” and revealed that her weight is a mere 87.3 pounds.
Hyland, who had a kidney transplant in 2012, has spoken candidly about her struggles with kidney dysplasia and chronic pain. Like most public figures, the 27-year-old actress has unfortunately been the target of body shaming by trolls on her social media pages. Followers have accused Hyland of being anorexic and have repeatedly criticized her swollen face, which the star later revealed was caused by prednisone injections to help treat her illness.
Hyland is one of many celebrities who for whatever reason, feel compelled to share their weight with the general public. Earlier this year, Kourtney Kardashian revealed that she weighs less than 100 pounds. After the birth of her second child, Kourtney’s sister Kim Kardashian West began sharing photos of her daily weigh-ins on social media while she tried to lose the baby weight. Kardashian West has said on her television show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” that she now has a 24-inch waist and shared her weight to be 115 pounds.
For the Kardashian clan, weight and appearance are obviously of high value. It is a constant subject on their show, a constant source of struggle for Kardashian-West and sister Khloé, and although veiled under the guise of “health and wellness” it conveys to their audience that appearance is everything. The Kardashians made headlines for their weight admissions, they were praised for their “bounce back” after baby and dubbed “better than ever” for having conquered their weight struggles.
While Hyland’s most recent post was meant to show her frustration with her small frame and the fact that she hasn’t been medically cleared to return to the gym and lift weights, it wasn’t the best idea.
Here’s the thing – celebrities sharing what they weigh is not only counterproductive to freeing ourselves from the myth that thin equals beautiful, it also can be very dangerous for impressionable members of their audiences.
Despite trying desperately to move towards body diversity and self acceptance, celebrities sharing their weights can be triggering for anyone with body issues or an eating disorder. Followers with weight issues or anyone scale obsessed, immediately begin to draw comparisons of their body to their favourite celebrity’s. Goal weights are set. Self hatred swells. The challenge to be just as “perfect” is on.
I speak from experience. When I was 12, I began noticing that I was slightly bigger than most of my classmates — especially the popular ones. I was flipping through a magazine one day when I read an
“article” that showed the heights and weights of popular celebrities.
I scanned to my height and found a photo of a smiling, beautiful, Shania Twain. The article listed Shania Twain as 112 pounds, almost 30 pounds lighter than I was. Like any good Canadian girl, I was a fan, and in my pre-teen naiveté fully believed that once I was 112 pounds, I would be beautiful and perfect like Shania.
By the time I turned 14, I weighed 112 pounds. At 15, I was under 100. I was fully entrenched in what so far has been a lifelong struggle with eating disorders and an obsession with the scale. I know that reading an article about Shania Twain didn’t cause my eating disorder — it’s not that simple. However, I was already vulnerable and it was a tipping point that moved me from feeling unhappy with myself to having an unhealthy idea that everything would be better if I just lost weight. I began noticing weight everywhere – in magazines, on television shows and websites, and I attached value to numbers that if I’m honest, I still haven’t been able to get rid of.
I have the reflex of seeing stories about Kardashian’s weight admissions and immediately gauge where I am in comparison. Even for Hyland, who called herself “Skeletor,” I have a moment where I see her thigh gap and hip bones, and remember the rush it gave me when people said I was “too skinny.” I still have these thoughts and I’m a grown woman who keeps a close eye on her issues – who has been in treatment and therapy for a number of years and who lives, mostly in recovery.
I can’t help but think of the people younger than me or older than me, who are perhaps not able to snap out of this way of thinking, and who are controlled by numbers, measurements and who weigh themselves multiple times a day. When I saw Hyland’s post, I winced — because I knew that somewhere someone was going to covet her small frame – and that someone was going to register 87.3 as their goal weight.
Celebrities have a reach greater than we can imagine and a complex influence on society that I can’t even begin to deconstruct in this article. They possess power that they may not have asked for, but like Spiderman, they have a great responsibility to set a positive example.
For many people, this seems silly. You may be thinking, “Everything is already so damn PC – why can’t we talk about weight?”
Well, internet friend – I politely ask that we find different ways to gauge our worth. We have made such strides in body diversity and in body positivity, why move backwards?