My Fat Body Is Not A Punishment, No Matter What Drew Barrymore Says

Emily McCombs
·2-min read
Drew Barrymore on the cover of the August edition of InStyle magazine. (InStyle )
Drew Barrymore on the cover of the August edition of InStyle magazine. (InStyle )

In the August issue of InStyle, between discussing life during COVID-19 and her upcoming talk show, cover girl Drew Barrymore also made some (to me) startling comments about her body, saying, among other problematic things, that she has to diet and exercise so she’s not “the size of a bus.”

“I eat really clean and healthy, and I do an hour of Pilates at least four days a week,” she told the magazine. “I have to work so hard at not being the size of a bus. And it’s OK. That is just my journey. That is my karma. I don’t know, maybe I was thin and mean in a past life.”

The whole quote strikes me as off-brand for Barrymore, who generally comes across as a relentlessly positive if kooky everywoman with a feminist bent and enough of a wild child past to thumb her nose at the conventions of “celebrity.” Her image of hippie-ish serenity is reinforced by the interview’s accompanying images, in which she makes the peace sign and poses with a live chicken tucked under her arm.

It also reads to me like something from the realm of women’s media 10 to 15 years ago, before we banished terms such as “bikini body” from our glossy cover lines and replaced them with Tess Holliday. Sure, diet culture is alive and thriving, and the watered-down lip service version of “body positivity” is now being used to sell us things, but I still thought we’d come a little further than this.

There are LAYERS of things to be upset about in Barrymore’s answer, starting with the fact that when asked a fairly innocuous question, she conflates “taking care of herself” with regulating her body’s size. Eating nourishing food and moving our bodies can certainly be self-care. But thinness and striving for thinness are not inherently good for you. In fact, the pursuit of thinness quite often results in behaviors that are the opposite of providing loving care for yourself.

Then there’s the term “eat clean,” which reinforces the damaging idea that what...

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