It’s no news that there are some industries out there in which women cannot escape the perils of gender-based pressure at work. Society has, indeed, evolved to a point where women receive equal opportunities for access to education and employment in most of the western world. However, women still make less money than men and are still objectified in many career tracks. Most infamously, it’s the movie industry in Hollywood, as well as the modeling industry where women have to suffer the pressures of their gender identity and the beauty ideals it is held up to. In today’s post we bring you two tales of female objectification that ought to clearly point out how much unfairness still exists in the working world of the present.
Gender-based pressure at work drove model to anorexia
It’s rather unusual to see someone retire from their chosen profession at an age as tender as 23. However, it’s less uncommon for the fast-paced, talent driven world of modeling. Should her story have been a normal one, this is where Georgina Wilkin’s tale would have ended. However, the former British model has a lot more to talk about – for one thing, she stated in a recent interview, her modeling career was brief. She only lasted three years out on the runway. Its effects, though, lingered on for much longer. According to Wilkin’s own statements, she suffered from anorexia for eight years. The Brit beauty started out in the field at the young age of 15. She was immediately told to shed a few inches off her hips, but was still rejected even after doing so.
Wilkin was constantly subjected to gender-based pressure at work. One time, she hadn’t eaten anything in 48 hours and her agent told her she looked her best. Another time, the eating disorder put her in the hospital for several days; the ensuing weight loss had her booked for a prestigious Prada campaign. The former model recalls her fingers and lips going blue from the lack of peripheral circulation. She says she still sees these signs on today’s models. Georgina’s story is not singular, of course. One model recalled having seen models pull out their teeth to achieve the gaunt look, while another says she saw girls eating cotton swabs, in order to achieve the sensation of fullness. All these models, Wilkin included, have dedicated their post-modeling days to campaigning against the horrific standards of the modeling industry and one can only hope they succeed in raising awareness.
One would think that an Academy Award winning actress such as Jennifer Lawrence built her career entirely on talent. And there is no denying Lawrence’s prowess on the silver screen. However, she, too, has a grim story regarding gender-based pressure at work. In a recent interview to Harper’s Bazaar, the actress recounted being called fat and repeatedly prompted to lose weight. She was even threatened with getting fired if she doesn’t succeed to lose a specific number of pounds. Of course, Lawrence is no waif, but, by all standards, her figure is that of a typical (and typically healthy) female her age. To boot, she is one of the fastest rising stars on Hollywood’s firmament. At only twenty three years of age, she managed to follow up a performance in a popular favorite (Hunger Games) with a best lead actress Oscar for her part in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. All this fell on deaf ears, it seems, when it came to the producers. Lawrence, however, is adamant about holding her ground and will not even hear the word ‘diet’ without having a near fit.
Many will rush to argue that gender-based pressure at work is only telling of image-focused industries such as modeling or acting. However, those who do should consider the kind of treatment imparted to women who work in predominantly male environments or industries. To boot, think about the fact that dress codes for women are usually far more strict than those for men. A lot of inequality persists in today’s working environment, even in our allegedly enlightened day and age. And just because equal opportunity exists, this doesn’t make it sufficient to proclaim equality across the board.