Weight and health are not the same thing. They are not the same thing in a boat, with a goat, here, there, or anywhere. And yet, the media and our fat-hating culture in general persist in conflating the two every single chance they get, so it’s easy to see how a person could get confused. A person like the recently pregnant Reese Witherspoon.
In a recent interview with Extra, America’s sweetheart said one when she meant the other, or at least that’s how Us Weekly makes it sound:
Speaking to Extra at the event, Witherspoon said of her efforts to lose weight: “I don’t know if I’m bouncing back. I’m slowly crawling back. You know, all of your joints feel wobbly, and your head is sort of confused. You just have to be gentle and patient with yourself and just sort of, you know…slowly get back to your health,” she continued.
You know she was wondering what to say during those ellipses. “If you say weight, you’ll come off like a shallow, weight obsessed, Hollywood hydra of a mother who would rather go to the gym than spend time with her precious miracle,” she thought to herself. “If you say health, you’ll sound, um, healthy, but also like you are lying and/or consider creating a new life to be unhealthy. Um…health!”
Of course it’s possible to gain weight by leading an unhealthy lifestyle, in which case improving your lifestyle may cause you to lose weight, but that’s not what happened to Reese Witherspoon. She had a baby. It’s unhealthy if you don’t gain some weight while you are pregnant, because you are making a whole new person, and that new person requires you to eat a whole bunch more and stop doing high impact exercises. Pregnancy is not a disease you become healthy when you recover from, but a perfectly normal (for some people) part of the circle of life. Kumbaya!
To be fair, an actress can’t really win on this question. Even if Reese had disclosed that she was mainly trying to lose weight because the people who make shitty chick flicks expect her to look a certain way (a disclosure I admire when people make it), some would have accused her of being ungrateful for her success. Nuts.
It’s not Reese Witherspoon’s fault our culture has such an ass backwards approach to “weight” and “health,” and I don’t want to sound like I’m attacking her in particular. I’m not. But maybe if she sees some of the discussion surrounding this quote, she’ll realize it’s a systemic problem that she can try to help correct. I will always like her for the performance she gave in Election (and I will always wonder why she’s been in so many terrible movies since then), but she can only sail on that for so long.