June 22, 2024

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15 celebrities who say they’ve been pressured to lose weight in order to succeed in Hollywood

A lot of stars have spoken about the pressures they've felt while working in the entertainment industry.
A lot of stars have spoken about the pressures they’ve felt while working in the entertainment industry.

Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Billboard/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

  • Many celebrities have spoken about the pressure they’ve been under to lose weight and look a certain way while working in the entertainment industry. 

  • “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner said that therapy helped her cope with constant scrutiny she faced from TV studios regarding her weight.

  • Actor Sam Claflin said even though women have it worse, men are often put under a lot of pressure to lose weight, too. 

  • “Glee” star Amber Riley said that unrealistic body expectations have made Hollywood “a very hard place to be in.”

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Celebrities are often pressured to change how they look, and many big-names in Hollywood have opened up about how hurtful and damaging this can be.

From actors to models, here are stars who have opened up about being pressured to lose weight in order to succeed in their career.

Jennifer Lawrence said she was once told to lose 15 pounds in two weeks.

jennifer lawrence
jennifer lawrence

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

In 2017 at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event, Jennifer Lawrence spoke out about the “humiliating” and “degrading” ways the film industry approaches body image.

“When I was much younger and starting out, I was told by producers of a film to lose 15 pounds in two weeks,” she said. “During this time a female producer had me do a nude line-up with about five women who were much, much thinner than me.”

“We all stood side-by-side with only tape on covering our privates … the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet,” she added. 

She went on to say that the experience made her feel “trapped” and that she now continuously reminds herself that she deserves to be treated with respect. 

Amber Riley said that unrealistic body expectations have made Hollywood “a very hard place to be in.”

amber riley
amber riley

Jesse Grant/Getty Images

On an emotional episode of the 2012 MTV series “This Is How I Made It,” actress Amber Riley explained that many industry professionals have told her she needed to “lose a little weight.”

She added that many of the roles she has been offered were based on harmful, negative stereotypes related to her size, like “the girl who wanted to commit suicide ’cause she was fat” or the girl who sits and eats all day.

And for the “Glee” star, these situations and expectations have made Hollywood “a very hard place to be in” and she has never understood why casting directors can’t just accept her for who she is.

Carrie Underwood said she used to read message boards where people would criticize her weight.

Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

In March 2020, singer Carrie Underwood told Women’s Health that after she won “American Idol” in 2005 she began reading message boards where people would leave comments about her appearance like, “Carrie’s getting fat.” 

“I shouldn’t care what other people think about me,” she told the publication. “I was tired, and I kept buying bigger clothes. I knew I could be better for myself, and I let my haters be my motivators.”

She told the publication that some days she consumed as few as 800 calories, which led to an unhealthy, months-long cycle of overeating and undereating.

“Your body is screaming out, ‘I need more calories, I need more carbs!'” she told Women’s Health. The singer said eventually she focused on a new version of “healthy” with a new diet and workout plan. 

Richard Madden said women aren’t the only ones who are told to lose weight in Hollywood.

richard madden
richard madden

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In an interview with British Vogue, “Game of Thrones” star Richard Madden said he has had his “fat rolls” pinched and has been put in corset-like costumes because studios wanted him to look slim.

“I’ve done numerous jobs where you’re told to lose weight and get to the gym,” Madden told the publication. “It doesn’t just happen to women, it happens to men all the time as well.”

He acknowledged that trying to look thin on TV and in films projects “a very unrealistic body image,” but admitted that he and other actors continue to do it anyway. 

Amber Tamblyn said her agent didn’t believe she’d become a star unless she lost weight.

amber tamblyn
amber tamblyn

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Shortly after her success in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series, actress Amber Tamblyn said her agent told her she could only be a star if she lost some weight. 

“I think at that point I was 128 pounds and I’m 5’7″. I remember my agent saying to me … ‘You have a real choice here. You can either be Nicole Kidman or you can be a character actress,'” Tamblyn recalled in a conversation with the New York Times.

She said the experience shaped her sense of self-worth for years and made her feel “violated,” like she had to look a specific way or she was doomed for failure.

Sam Claflin said male actors are put under a lot of pressure to lose weight but it is “never talked about.”

sam claflin
sam claflin

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In 2017, actor Sam Claflin told The Sydney Morning Herald that he has really struggled with body image and self-confidence while working in the film industry. 

“I remember doing one job when they literally made me pull my shirt up and were grabbing my fat and going, ‘You need to lose a bit of weight.’ This other time they were slapping me. I felt like a piece of meat,” Claflin said. 

“I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as bad as what women go through but I, as an actor approaching each job, am insecure — especially when I have to take my top off in it … I get really worked up to the point where I spend hours and hours in the gym and not eating for weeks to achieve what I think they’re going for,” he added. 

He went on to say that this pressure to be muscular and trim presents an unrealistic body image that’s “anything but normal.” 

Jennifer Lopez said people tried to pressure her early on in her career.

jennifer lopez
jennifer lopez

Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Billboard

In 2018, Jennifer Lopez told InStyle that, early in her career, a lot of people in the industry told her she should lose weight. But instead of trying to change her appearance, she embraced her body type.

“They didn’t bother me at all but I got a lot of flak for it from people in the industry. They’d say, ‘You should lose a few pounds,’ or ‘You should do this or do that.’ It finally got to the point that I was like, ‘This is who I am. I’m shaped like this,'” Lopez told the publication.

“Everybody I grew up with looked like that, and they were all beautiful to me. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I still don’t,” she added. 

Amy Schumer said she was once told to lose weight just to star in a film she had written.

amy schumer
amy schumer

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Although she had a lot of creative control over her 2015 film “Trainwreck,” Amy Schumer still had to deal with people telling her to lose weight for the lead role. 

In an interview on “The Jonathan Ross Show,” Schumer jokingly described the experience by saying, ” … It was explained to me before I did that movie that if you weigh over 140 pounds as a woman in Hollywood, if you’re on the screen it will hurt people’s eyes.” 

“So I lost some weight to do that, but never again,” she added.

Supermodel Tyra Banks said she was once called “too big” to be on the runway.

tyra banks 2004
tyra banks 2004

Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Tyra Banks previously told Business Insider that she’s faced a lot of difficulties related to body image and unrealistic weight expectations while working in the modeling industry.

In an interview, she recalled that when she a young model at the height of her high-fashion career, designers at Milan Fashion Week called her “too big.”

“‘Her butt is getting too big and you need to go tell her to lose some weight,'” they told her mother Carolyn London, per Banks. She said she also got a list of designers who no longer wanted to work with her. 

“I started crying and I was like, ‘Mom, OK, what do I do. Should I diet? Should I work out twice a day? Should I just have salads for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?'” she told Business Insider.

But Banks recalled her mom shutting down those ideas immediately, saying she’d “be damned” if her child “starved” for the modeling industry. 


As an actress, Ashley Benson said she was often told she should lose weight.

ashley benson
ashley benson

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

In a 2016 interview with Health magazine, the “Pretty Little Liars” actress said that throughout her career she’s been told to lose weight “all the time.”

“I got that a month ago,” Benson said. “It’s just weird. With my stuff recently, it’s been, ‘You have to be skin and bones or you’re not getting it.'”

She told the publication that she is still working on feeling confident in her body, but that she believes all sizes are healthy. 

Ashley Graham said an agent and her dad both suggested she lose weight in order to be a model.

ashley Graham
ashley Graham

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In 2017, Ashley Graham told the Las Vegas Review Journal that she has always experienced fat-shaming and bullying — but she didn’t realize how much this pressure to be thin impacted her until she began pursuing a modeling career.

In the interview, she looked back on a time when a talent agent at a mall suggested she lose some weight so she could become a model.

“The really hard moment was when my dad said, ‘Honey, if an agent is telling you to lose weight, then maybe you should lose weight.’ I was 15, standing in our living room having a moment I will never forget. I never had a parent tell me to lose weight and it hurt,” she recalled. 

But Graham said she doesn’t blame her father for his words — she blames the modeling industry’s unrealistic standards. 

“He was thinking like a businessman,” she said. “It’s not that my father didn’t love me. He wanted me to succeed.” 

Henry Cavill said a director called him too “chubby” to play James Bond.

henry cavill
henry cavill


“Man of Steel” star Henry Cavill said when he auditioned to play James Bond in a film the director told him he was too “chubby” for the role. 

To audition, Cavill said he had to walk out with just a towel on. 

“I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, ‘Looking a little chubby there, Henry,'” Cavill said in an interview with Men’s Health magazine.

But Cavill said he was following a poor diet at the time and, overall, the director’s comment made him rethink his physical health and how he eats.

“I didn’t know how to train or diet,” he told the publication. “And I’m glad Martin said something because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.” 


Jennifer Aniston said her agent once told her she was “too heavy” to get acting jobs.

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston

She said she lost 30 pounds after her agent told her to lose weight.

Getty/Rich Fury

In a 1996 interview with Rolling Stone, Jennifer Aniston said it was her agent who told her that she needed to slim down in order to make it in Hollywood. 

“My agent gave it to me straight,” she said. “The disgusting thing of Hollywood [is] I wasn’t getting lots of jobs ’cause I was too heavy.”

Aniston went on to lose 30 pounds before auditioning for “Friends,” adding that she doesn’t think she would have gotten cast as Rachel if she hadn’t lost the weight. 

David Harbour said he was told by a director that he was “too fat” to play The Blob.

David Harbour Stranger Things Golden Globes 2018 red carpet
David Harbour Stranger Things Golden Globes 2018 red carpet

He said a casting director said he was perfect for the “big” character.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

In a 2017 interview with The Wrap, David Harbour said he got an audition to play the character The Blob in an upcoming “Wolverine” film after a casting director said he was perfect for the “big,” “fat” character. 

“I was like ‘Okay, wow, that’s flattering,'” Harbour jokingly recalled. “And [the casting director] was like, ‘No, no, it’s not that you’re fat, it’s just that we need a big guy to wear the suit.'”

Harbour went to the audition anyway and jokingly showed his stomach to the director saying, “I’ve got your Blob right here.” 

After the audition, Harbour said the director expressed “concerns” about his weight. 

“He was like, ‘David, look, you’re wonderful, we really think you’re just a great actor, we’re just concerned … we’re really concerned … it’s just, you lifted up your shirt and … we’re just a little worried about your health,'” Harbour told The Wrap. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. You are telling me I’m too fat to play The Blob?'”

Sophie Turner said that therapy helped her cope with the constant scrutiny she faced from TV studios.

sophie turner
sophie turner

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Sophie Turner told Marie Claire Australia that when she gained weight while filming “Game of Thrones,” TV studios put pressure on her to lose those extra pounds. 

“My metabolism suddenly decided to fall to the depths of the ocean and I started to get spotty and gain weight, and all of this was happening to me on camera,” she recalled, adding that going to therapy helped her cope with the pressures she was facing. 

“People are constantly telling you you’re not good enough and you don’t look good enough,” Turner said. “I think it’s necessary to have someone to talk to and to help you through that.”

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