Hunger Games Backlash: Jennifer Lawrence Doesn't Look Hungry Enough

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by Melissa Silverstein
March 29, 2012 12:20 PM
30 Comments
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As of two days ago The Hunger Games' domestic gross was up above $173 million dollars.  It will clearly be above $200 million before the weekend.  It's a success so the nitpicking has started.  We've seen the posts on the racist tweets and now there are people complaining that Jennifer Lawrence looked a bit too healthy playing a character who was supposed to be poor and hungry.

NY Times critic Manohla Dargis calls her "a new female warrior" and "Again and again Katniss rescues herself with resourcefulness, guts and true aim, a combination that makes her insistently watchable" and then in the next sentence says that she doesn't look hungry enough her seductive and that her "womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission."   There are other problemmatic comments focusing on her "baby fat" (Todd McCarthy in Hollywood Reporter).  Now if I wanted to nitpick she is supposed to be 16 in the film and all girls develop differently so maybe this 16 year old could still have some baby fat.  And, Katniss is a hunter she would most probably be more fit with chasing the game she shoots for her family.  And I also remember reading in the books that both Katniss and Peeta overate while preparing for the Games so they could have some extra meet on them while they were fiighting for their lives.

This is beyond disgusting.  Lawrence looks normal.  Her male co-stars look even healthier (and have some seriously big muscles) yet no one thinks they are too healthy or big boned or big boobed or just plain old fat.  Look at her.  She's not fat.  She's even thin and she is also totally normal about her food intake.  She likes to eat and won't diet.  Power to her.

Sometimes I think that we are so used to seeing such skinny women in the movies that when we see a normal looking girl we think she is big.  But because this film is so important to young girls it is even more important that we not get caught up in the lookism that usually surrounds actresses.  Girls are looking at Katniss as a role model - fiction or not.  She's a character they can relate to.  

One thing I really hope is that Larence doesn't pay any attention to this.  She seems to be really grounded but it's hard to ignore all the chatter.  I hope that even if she sees it she dismisses it and doesn't effect her as she heads into production on the second film this summer.

Here are two pictures.  One from The Hunger Games and one from Winter's Bone.  Do you think she looks different?

Jennifer Lawrence Is Not “Too Big” To Play Katniss (Slate)

'Hunger Games': Star's 'baby fat' shouldn't eclipse the film's message (LA Times)

Hunger Games': Should Jennifer Lawrence really look hungrier? (LA Times)

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30 Comments

  • Saml | September 9, 2012 2:04 AMReply

    Wow. She is a great actor. The critics are out of their minds. Can we not pick apart healthy looking role models.

  • Jennifer Lawrence | July 27, 2012 12:44 PMReply

    Thanks you guys for liking me but I'll try harder to look more hungry and all that stuff and anyways I hope you guys enjoyed the series "The Hunger Games"!!!

  • caleb s. | June 21, 2012 6:36 PMReply

    Jen if you see all these rude comments about you I am sorry.

  • you suck la times | June 21, 2012 4:55 PMReply

    If any one else says anything else mean about Jennifer Shrader Lawrence, then you can all burn in hell.

  • kyle | June 21, 2012 4:45 PMReply

    I don't think Jennifer is anywhere near fat!!!!!!! SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! la TIMES IS FULL OF FUCKING SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tony Wu | April 1, 2012 10:52 PMReply

    The fact of the matter is, that all actresses in gritty action roles in fantasy movies look unrealistic because they are all heavily made up. That picture you have up there with her and the horse is a lot more realistic than anything in the movie. Yeah Lawrence is not skinny skinny but she is still conventionally attractive. The two main rules I see are 1) they'd have never cast an ugly girl for the lead role, and 2) you'll never see dirt, grime, zits, etc. because her makeup will never wear off.

  • pinay1990 | March 31, 2012 2:56 AMReply

    This is incredibly stupid. I'm sorry, but it's true. If anyone read the books they should know that Katniss is a hunter - so she's not too freakin skinny. She needs the strength and muscles. Also, don't you remember that in the book Katniss and Peeta was provided a feast for the actual Hunger Games?? Yes she couldn't look at them at first, but she ate them anyway. So she gained for that.

    Also - JENNIFER IS NOT KATNISS. C'mon you guys, we don't want the beautiful Jennifer to freakin kill herself just for the role. What, you want her to be so freakin skinny and risk her being pressured and becoming all anorexic like other stupid Hollywood actresses? She's not like that. If she is, then she wouldn't be herself as a person. She did a WONDERFUL job portraying Katniss. Some actors do things to become their character, but Jennifer isn't going to be another copy.

    Besides, looks is not even remotely important when it comes to the Hunger Games message. It's good that she has these curves. She's still thin.

    It's people who write stuff like this is what driving young girls to the extreme of wanting to stay "thin" when they just need to be healthy.

    Seriously though - The Hunger Games shouldn't be focused on a how the actress looks. The story is about survival, struggle, love, and violence.

    One more thing - you can't expect a movie to be completely just like the book. Stop being lazy and just read. A movie can't give you all the details.

  • jat | March 30, 2012 10:02 PMReply

    look at Christian Bale in The Mechanic or the guy from Hunger. Its not sexist for actors to starve themselves for a part that warrants it according to the story line. Love Jen, but professionally uts a bad move that she did not properly prepare for the part. Months of archery training to be " authentic", but she couldn't even knock off 10 or 20 L-B-S to play a girl on the verge of starvation? Not the mark of a professional!

  • BITCH | June 21, 2012 4:52 PM

    WTF is wrong with You?! You are a fucking liar Jennifer Lawrence is the best actress in the freaking world and she is a great person. She doesn't need this bad publicity. I bet you aren't so skinny yourself go rot in a hole!

  • WTF | March 31, 2012 1:32 AM

    Did you loose your head in you rear end?

  • NK | March 30, 2012 7:41 PMReply

    Katniss in the book is also olive-skinned with grey eyes. Is she supposed to get her skin tattooed with a darker color and wear contacts?

    This criticism is idiotic.

  • Anna | March 30, 2012 3:20 PMReply

    I interpreted Katniss' healthy weight to be a result of the fact that she is not starving because she can hunt, and is one of the few people who can provide for her family.

    It's amazing how personal the criticisms are when it's a woman, how much we as a society consider their bodies public property. I can't imagine ever reading something about an actor playing an action figure not being "ripped" enough.

  • Mel | March 30, 2012 2:40 PMReply

    If the character is supposed to be "starving" and she looks healthy, then I don't think saying she looks too healthy for the role is an insult or even a comment about how women to be skinny to be attractive. If anything, the fact that she looks healthy and curvy is maybe a result of the producers/directors of the film wanting her to look sexy instead of losing weight to fit the role of a starving person.

    The Mechanic required Christian Bale to be sickly thin. If he looked healthy then the movie wouldn't have had the same impact...at least for me.

  • Bes | March 30, 2012 10:57 AMReply

    I saw the movie last night and Jennifer did a great job. She looked fine for the part. Everyone is starving in District 12 but she is a competent hunter and is a slim normal. She was helped along by the fact that there was no distracting ogling camera incidents which are so common and degrading to female characters and audience . I am sure Jennifer and her character Katniss are now a threat to business as usual in Hollywood so anyone invested in the status quo is going to take a shot at her.

  • Julie | March 30, 2012 5:20 AMReply

    I actually found it extremely refreshing that Jennifer Lawrence has hips in the movie. I remember seeing her in her workout suit and thinking; "Wow, a woman on screen who has hips!! How refreshing!!!" when I watched the Hunger Games.

    I think all women are beautiful whether a size 2 to a size 22 etc. Life's just a little sweeter when I see the beauty in 95% of the women I know.

    It's usually just horrible personalities that can ruin someone's looks for me; of which I just stay clear of them.

    Jennifer Lawrence looked incredible in the film and gave an incredible performance. I was really happy with her casting. Yay, hips!!!

  • emily fox-kales | March 29, 2012 11:46 PMReply

    I fear that the latest body buzz about Jennifer Lawrence is less about character-driven casting and more about how the female movie star's size and shape are up for endless public scrutiny (and yes, far less than her male counterparts for sure!). But even more chilling to think about is how the dystopic world of starving teenagers in the Hunger Games is actually a working metaphor for the self-starvation so many teens in today's "Girl World."

  • Kati H | March 29, 2012 5:48 PMReply

    From a feminist standpoint I'm really glad Jennifer Lawrence looks as she does, which is beautiful and powerful and yes, omg, healthy (don't you love how "healthy" is the euphemism for fat? what in the world?)

    The nitpicky critiqu'ing I guess is fair game, BUT I think the critics and subsequent journalists know very well what they're doing, especially with their headlines. It's always a contentious subject, actresses and weight and being a role model. Like Jen (previous poster) says, there is a difference between wanting to fit the part and wanting to be super-tiny because that's supposed to be more appealing (a lot of men totally disagree with this btw, anyone noticing that?) But this is a delicious little situation where a critic can say something inflammatory yet not be a total jerk for saying it. Well played.

    As far as whether or not Katniss should have been thinner - well, no, the directors decided not to take that from the books, it seemed to me; they filled the time emphasizing other things. Katniss from the books, sure, more emaciated then stuffing-galore with lamb stew; Katniss from the FILM though, totally capable of hunting and feeding herself, so already (like Gale) very healthy, and too freaked out to care about the lamb stew. That's the direction the filmmakers chose to take, and the book and the film are two different things; I don't think it's fair to expect the film to 100% follow the book, nor is that possible.

  • Zoe | March 29, 2012 5:06 PMReply

    @Amanda All I"m saying is it's normal imo for a critic to note if an actor does not physically match their character. This isn't sexism. Sorry it just isn't because quiet honestly much more has been made of Josh Hutcherson not being physically what people thought of when they thought of Peeta.

  • Jen | March 29, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    First of all, as a feminist and screenwriter this criticism is valid -- sorry. But it steams from the production values not necessarily how Lawrence looks (tho if it were me, as an actor, I would have lost a few pounds as her family is supposed to be very poor and borderline starving). The piece is called HUNGER GAMES and all Gary Ross had to do was, well, create the world of hunger. When Lawrence saw the riches of the capitol and the feast laid out for her, she barely looked at it -- what?!!!! Where's the freaking lamb stew that was her favorite thing -- and the hunger from being so hungry most of her life. When Lawrence is on the 6th or 7th day of the games, she's picking at her grilled squirrel like she was on a Bravo show or something -- again, you're suppose to be starving (and thirsty!). And yeah, if I were the actress in this role, I would have started underweight a bit and gained strength throughout the piece-- it's called acting folks, you're suppose to inhibit the role and the role calls for HUNGER. Not fulfilled at all. To me, this was all bad direction, sorry.

  • Bes | March 29, 2012 2:47 PMReply

    I still haven't seen it but intend to next week. I have read the book. The thing that strikes me so far is the male leads. Katniss is supposed to be in some sort of a love triangle with these two guys but Peeta looks like some sort of little brother figure. Seriously ask 100 young women which guy they would pick and you are going to get the vast majority picking Gale it's a no brainer. Boys are so late to mature relative to young women that women are never going to pick a guy who looks younger than they do. I guess they could shoot the scenes so Peeta doesn't look so small but why not just hire a guy who is at least as tall as the heroine.

  • Lily | March 29, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    She acts well but I agree she doesn't look at all like the character was described in the book. For once I agree with the critics on something. Jennifer and Josh honestly don't do it for me and I wish someone else had been cast in those roles.

  • you bitch hole | June 21, 2012 4:57 PM

    you go suck on your mom's dick and you can go worship fucking one direction

  • Zoe | March 29, 2012 2:09 PMReply

    Jennifer Lawrence does not look as the character was described in the book physically. That's a fact. If Tom Hardy was cast as Peter Parker these same reviewers were note the same thing.

  • Amanda | March 29, 2012 4:18 PM

    I would rather watch someone who easily portrays the spirit of the character instead of someone who looks like the book version but doesn't give a top notch performance.

  • Ted | March 29, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    I think you are confusing two different things. I don't think it should be the business of the press to go around and criticize an actress' weight when they are just running around, but I think it's perfectly valid to criticize an actresses weight if it doesn't make sense in the context of the character they are playing. For example, Natalie Portman is clearly quite thin at her typical weight. However, she had to lose quite a bit of weight to play a ballerina in Black Swan. This was necessary because most professional ballerinas are, in fact, extremely thin. If Portman stayed at her normal weight and performed the role, it would be perfectly valid to say she didn't look the part and needed to lose weight for the role. If Jennifer Lawrence was suppose to play an anorexic character, wouldn't it be valid to point out that she doesn't look anorexic? That said, this clearly isn't the type of film where we are searching for great artistry. This dystopian future is not Tarkovsky's Stalker - this is popcorn entertainment. Nitpicking something like whether Lawrence's physique is plausible is dumb. I'll agree that for the role Lawrence should have maybe lost a bit of weight, though I think she is fine in real life, I just don't see it necessary to make a big deal out of it since it's mostly irrelevant for your ability to enjoy the film.


    That said, I don't think this critique is serious because of the gender component. If we are serious about critiquing the physique of the characters in the film - the men are far more unrealistic. To gain muscle mass it's not done by starvation. You actually have to consume a relatively large amount of calories to gain a lot of muscle - this is weight training 101. The fact that two supposedly starving males are so muscular is far more unrealistic that Lawrence character. If you are attacking the actors for having unrealistic bodies in the film, the males are more problematic than Lawrence. The fact this wasn't emphasized in the critique makes me think it's more about just picking on women who don't fit some cultural ideal.

  • Caleb S. | June 21, 2012 5:11 PM

    why did you have to bring in natalie potman and starving men. The first sentence of your comment was good but the rest was uncalled for and very disrespectful. If jennifer read these comments she would get dissapointed in her hunger games fans. For god's sake it is just a movie she doesn't need to get critizized. no one critizized her for the x men first class. I think it is wrong for an actress to lose weight for a role you don't have to change your whole life. It is never ok to call a star fat because could you film a movie p.s i am not just talking to ted i am talking to all the people that think Jennifer Shrader Lawrence the godesss of life is fat. P.S Ted Jennifer Lawrence and Natilie Portman Have always been skinny. of course not sickly skinny like Kristen Stewert. But Ted Make sure you don't let Jen read this!

  • Courtney | March 29, 2012 12:56 PMReply

    I remember seeing the promo images for the film and noticing that her face looked significantly thinner than she had in X-Men: First Class and Winter's Bone. When I saw her figure in the form-fitting outfit she wore for the pre-game competitions in The Hunger Games, I was actually glad that she didn't starve herself down to Hollywood-levels of skinny.

  • caleb | June 21, 2012 5:13 PM

    thank you courtney

  • Bill C. | March 29, 2012 12:46 PMReply

    Well said. Better to have a powerhouse actress like Lawrence in the role than some anorexic hack. She's the reason the movie works.

  • caleb | June 21, 2012 5:14 PM

    She Fricken Made The movie thank god for you Bill C.

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