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This Woman Is Too Fat for Hollywood?

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by Melissa Silverstein
November 8, 2012 9:43 AM
48 Comments
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I love Romola Garai.  First, she's a good actress.  She's just so excellent in The Hour which is written by Abi Morgan.  Second, she knows that she needs to be in magazines and make appearances in order to have a successful acting career.  But being the feminist that she is she doesn't let any of that take away from her knowing that this shit is all messed up.

She's a size 10 (a US size 6) but when I look at pictures of her I think she's much smaller.  That's because as she says she constantly gets airbrushed.  And to add insult to injury she doesn't ever get offers of designer duds because they never make anything bigger than a size 8.

And the fact that she looks smaller than she is makes her nervous because she doesn't want to anybody to think that she is anything other than who she is in reality.

And I know that people are accepting those images and are under the impression that that is really how my body looks, that I’m hairless and sexless and weigh 90 lbs. That really worries me. And I really don’t know what to do except talk about it.

Please keep on talking because we will be listening.

Here's a preview for The Hour which will be back on BBC America on November 28.

Romola Garai: as a size 10 I'm too fat for Hollywood (The Telegraph)

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More: Romola Garai, Abi Morgan, Feminism

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48 Comments

  • Jim Marco | June 6, 2013 11:23 PMReply

    I'm sure this topic's dried up, anyway, still I'll say this one thing I seem not to wedge in previous... Her point overall about how she is depicted in the media is more her feeling for the many young women who shape their entire perspective on these images which they come to trust as the expected & the standard for success and acceptability, she also relates an example of how male actors get similar stick for also not being obsessively gym-honed and how much people will do to acheive the effect, just passing on everything that was screwed-up in the first place. If you want to latch on to the idea that she's saying all this as a whine about being overlooked by hollywood as cheap self-promotion consider: she's carved out a fine career doing the projects she cares to do that she chooses (image doesn't play so much with some of the more obscure things she's done) it must pretty good otherwise there wouldn't be so many comments on her collected works, Hollywood is still not throwing up too many great female characters & to quote "... Hollywood? Well, it`s still there, last time I looked."

  • Jim Marco | June 4, 2013 9:10 PMReply

    I only just found this article (Didn't care much for the last comment, that's all) as a more general point I should mention that the lady has done quite a bit more than the films & TV you're sniping about, including writing for a national newspaper about this and conflict & upheaval in the middle-east and most recent in the Russian state ("I celebrate the F**k you behind Pussy Riot's eyes) - That wasn't it's original title, by the way-it was a bit stronger. Most recently she's supported the IRC in africa, made a self-funded film debut & worked with the Chemical Brothers. She's a woman who's comfortable in her own skin & thinks other people should feel the same in theirs, she completed an english degree with Open University with honours & just because she takes a keen interest in the way the world works she gets a kicking for having an opinion and being able to articulate it. She doesn't need my help or pennys-worth in forums that print her comments or articles, nor does other brit beauty Alesha Dixon who also made a doc on the culture of airbrushing in the media ("Look, but don't touch"). Think I used up 30-odd tweets-worth, but I had a few things to mention - and don't you think she looked good two months after her baby daughter, your business anyway.

  • yaya | January 5, 2013 1:40 AMReply

    shes a fat ass

  • Jerry | January 3, 2013 2:06 PMReply

    This girl is hot! Rebel Wilson is too fat for Hollywood.

  • A. | January 1, 2013 6:04 AMReply

    F... Hollywood.

  • ghg | December 26, 2012 4:21 PMReply

    She was very good as the lead in the recent BBC version of "Emma" opposite Jonny Lee Miller. But I wasn't bowled over by her in "The Hour," perhaps because her character was written as so vulnerable and weak that it didn't make sense for her to be promoted to a high-level production job. She's clearly a good actor, though, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if her size is part of the reason she doesn't get work in the States.

  • Nathan | December 25, 2012 12:14 PMReply

    omg! she's so amazingly beautiful! just perfect!
    that's impossible these guys have seen some "problem" on her... i'm sad.

  • younglove | December 22, 2012 8:35 PMReply

    If she's fat, I'm Melissa McCarthy. Ye gads.

  • Kyna | December 19, 2012 9:58 AMReply

    The title of this article is spot-on. I interpret its meaning as this could be ANY WOMAN in Hollywood or outside of Hollywood. Whether the subject of the article is Romola Garai, Kate Winslet, Drew Barrymore, or any other actress that is called "fat" despite her small size in real life (keeping in mind the ultimate insult that is targeting a woman's body for any reason in the first place), is beside the point. The point is that some think she's too "fat," which is a completely culturally biased perception based in part on highly mediated and staged performances and representations of actresses within the Hollywood film business, and an impossible standard we want non-performers to meet as well. With airbrushing, spanx (and sometimes double spanx), impossible exercise and dietary standards for actresses to meet (and when they do, can often become incredibly unhealthy as a result, although they are considered "thin and beautiful"), no wonder that public standards for women performers' bodies are so highly circumscribed! Of course Romola Garai could be any actress whose body is put on the metaphorical chopping block to whittle and hew her down to the "ideal" standard, or, if we can't, simply criticize and ridicule her for being "fat;" her size could not be more normal and average! (Although perhaps not within Hollywood, certainly within the "real world.") Women in Hollywood and women performers in general are subject to such stupefyingly ludicrous "standards" (read: media-influenced manufactured preferences) when it comes to their bodies and dress size. We have a real fear in American culture, particularly, of women's corporeal autonomy, which rears its ugly head in conversations about body size and weight, reproductive rights, parenting, sports, and many other arenas. And when (non-Caucasian) race and ethnicity are additional facets of women performers' being, the conversations had and attitudes expressed can sometimes be even more disturbing than this discussion of Romola Garai, particularly with regard to African American and Black women performers' bodies, too closely harking back to the time of the lamentably abused Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman (aka "Hottentot Venus").

  • Terri | December 17, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    I LOVE her, especially on THE HOUR. And as I watched an espisode last night, I kept thinking as she walked away from the camera, "Vavavoom!" (And, no, I'm not a lesbian--but I know a beautiful figure when I see one.)

  • Jamu | December 17, 2012 2:06 PMReply

    She looks a lot like Chloe Moretz in the face. If she's "too fat for Hollywood", then Hollywood really needs to rethink its standards.

  • HK | December 14, 2012 12:58 AMReply

    To me as a straight male, the fact that we've reached a point where a woman like this is considered 'fat' by any standards has to be some sign of the apocalypse!

    In the last 4 years or so people have completely lost their minds on weight issues. All sense of proportion has gone out the window. What is by all sane and medical definitions a perfectly normal person is labeled 'fat' while malnourished women who look like the walking dead are glamorized by the loonies in the media! They can keep their skeletal bulimics...I'll take Romola Garai, Kelly Brook and Kate Upton any day.

  • Eric R | December 5, 2012 12:33 PMReply

    Looks good to me.

  • Pablo Neruda | December 5, 2012 3:03 AMReply

    Hollywood gits have been constantly running a campaign about pro -anorexia but the truth is that the execs in the ovie business like little girls more than women, rather odd. People make the example of Kate Winslet, I think every plump actress that went to Hollywood shrunk and Kate now looks like a fishbone. Real women are meant to have a bit of fat, to go against that is to deny your own nature, how can you bear children if you are a pack of bones ?

  • gigi winters | December 5, 2012 2:44 AMReply

    Ah yes, the eternal struggle of all females is superficial standards of 'beauty" that thwart their road in life, unless.... you're a total fearless playful bitch type like me and command any room you enter...sadly not all women have that confidence.

  • star jonestown | December 4, 2012 5:04 PMReply

    Salacious, phony headline posted over about a half-dozen sentences, a photo and a freaking youtube clip.

    This 'article' is shoddy. I regret clicking thru.

    Do better, Indiewire. This is worthless.

  • fluff | December 4, 2012 3:30 PMReply

    Firstly, she's not a size ten UK. No freaking way. She claims to look smaller than she is, but she looks substantially bigger than size ten. She's 12 or 14 for sure. I'm British, do a ton of sports, have been a UK size ten since I was a teenager and I'm much more petite than RG. Also, in US sizes I always take a size 2/small, so the UK-US conversion is totally screwed up anyway. RG obviously wants to appear smaller than she is, which completely devalues these oh-so-honest comments she has made.

    And on to more important things. The Hour is shocking rubbish. All atmosphere, costumes, and BS. She is OK in it. Her size isn't what's keeping her out of Hollywood: as others pointed out, Kate Winslet and Christina Hendricks have managed it. Maybe she just isn't leading lady material– she hasn't been completely consistent performance-wise.

  • Laner | December 24, 2012 3:12 AM

    She's not claiming she looks smaller than size '10' at all - she's saying she keeps being photoshopped to look smaller than size '10'. She doesn't *want* to appear thinner than she is - "That really worries me," to quote her. No undermining of credibility here. Read properly!

  • Maddy | December 20, 2012 1:28 PM

    She's not unsuccessful. I guarantee there are hundreds of size 0's who have been bypassed in her favor. And how can she be a spokesperson for the normal sized woman when she can't even be honest about her own dress size?

  • Fluff | December 20, 2012 1:03 PM

    There is no denying that Hollywood sets near impossible physical goals for leading ladies. But lets face it– it is a beautiful face that is the one attribute it will not compromise on. I think it's attention seeking and unhelpful to claim that your slightly fuller figure keeps you out of the Hollywood A list when others who are not size O are successful. It may be a factor, but it may not... so unless you have proof, keep your trap shut. What is clear is that other women have been chosen above this actress. The reasons are surely all pretty shallow- profitability, success, sex appeal... but that is the business, no? Also, I do take issue with her claim to be smaller than she is. I'm sorry but this is undeniable. It's undermining her credibility.

  • Alice | December 15, 2012 6:34 AM

    I think it's pretty difficult to call BS on her size unless you can actually see what size clothes she's wearing; don't forget that cameras actually do add bulk, and gosh either way, she is a totally normal , perfectly slim woman. BTW Kate Winslet is also very slim, again she's just not a size zero but I bet in any group of woman she'd be the smallest one.

  • red | December 7, 2012 9:15 AM

    How many normal sized actresses do you know? 90% of them are underweight. Kate Winslet was dissed after Titanic came and it continued for many many years. Even today people still call her heavy in comparsion to other anorexic actresses who claim they have fast metabloism. Point is men don't have to face such critisicm.

  • Michael Slavitch | December 2, 2012 1:03 PMReply

    Mmmm. HIPS.

  • Jessie Sammler | December 2, 2012 1:05 AMReply

    I think she's quite attractive. I'd rather put my arms around a woman like her than some tiny little wisp of a thing with hollow bird bones. I don't believe in the creation of these fictitious images so loosely based on reality. We airbrush and manipulate everything to perfection, and the effect in the long run is that we cannot stomach reality. We can't accept the wrinkles, bulges, blemishes, freckles and rogue hairs of real people. We don't want real people on our magazine covers; we want illustrations of idealized, alternate-universe people.

  • muddy | November 29, 2012 5:32 PMReply

    what, are people blind? she's bloody GORGEOUS!

  • [A] | November 29, 2012 5:11 PMReply

    She was the weakest part in ATONEMENT

  • Rosie | November 27, 2012 12:01 PMReply

    I believe that Romola Garai is a very talented actress and she has a strong screen presence. But I believe that certain groups would rather believe that the reason she will not become big in Hollywood is due to some kind of inconsistent acting skills, rather than face the truth that she does not possess a figure that is considered ideal in the movie industry - namely very thin. And I suspect that a good number of men harbor this belief.

  • Alan | November 27, 2012 10:39 PM

    Er, no. Again, I actually like Garai, but she was laughable in 'Glorious 39', and has been lacklustre in a number of her other roles. There is no conspiracy, there is no hidden "truth": she's a good actress that is often prone to over-acting. If someone like David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke or Lars Von Trier wanted to work with her, they'd tell the money-men to piss off. But she isn't getting those roles because of her tendency to over-act.

  • Alan | November 27, 2012 2:24 AMReply

    Look, I don't want to be too harsh on Garai because I think she is a talented enough actress: she is certainly more versatile and interesting than many of the other young British actress that have been foisted upon us, like Alice Eve, Gemma Arterton, Imogen Poots and Hayley Atwell. She - unlike other major stars - also has interesting things to say, as shown in this interview snippet. However, Garai is far too inconsistent as a performer. She's solid enough, I guess, in the nonsense that is 'The Hour' (Egads. Russian spies. At the BBC. I say, this is all rather not spiffy and the like) and is excellent in 'One Day', 'Atonement', 'King Lear' and 'I Capture the Castle', but she's also rather terrible in a number of her other roles. OK, Meryl Streep couldn't make much of a 'Dirty Dancing' sequel, but she didn't make much of Amelia Sedley in 'Vanity Fair', was laughable in 'Glorious 39', was less than sparkling in 'Mary Bryant' and was middling in 'Scoop'. Honestly, I think those performances have hurt her more than anything else, and - whilst they weren't great films - I think if she elevated the material with her performances then she would be getting more calls stateside.

  • Erick Hayden | November 21, 2012 11:37 AMReply

    I think that we are dying to move into an era where a person of any physical dimensions can be appreciated. She's a beautiful woman and it doesn't matter if she is several sizes or 12 sizes larger.

  • Myka | November 20, 2012 9:56 AMReply

    Hollywood has nothing to do with this. Hollywood sells a product. If people didn't by that product then the product would change to meet demand. Want it to change? Stop going to see movies that have models size 0 or less.

    It's marketing. Plain and simple.

  • john | December 10, 2012 3:59 AM

    "Hollywood sells a product. If people didn't by that product then the product would change to meet demand."

    Exactly. I personally think shes a bit heavy, so I will continue to see movie with thinner actresses. But if you don't like it, you can change it.

  • ZACHARY | November 20, 2012 1:06 AMReply

    The title of this thing is pretty horrifying. Anybody with taste knows Garai is a gold standard in the UK; she's one of only a handful of film actors who hasn't sold out. It's a shame that the only time Indiewire thinks to mention her is in this crummy context. If the US film biz wasn't such a joke, we might not expect so many things like this. Is it any wonder she doesn't work here?

  • Charles | November 18, 2012 11:41 AMReply

    Plain and simple....size 10 is fat no matter what you whant to think.
    She just need to start in a gym and when she looks simetric then size will not natter but for shure it will not be 10

  • Debs | November 28, 2012 12:06 PM

    If you are able to read then you'll find that UK size 10 is equivalent to US size 6. Which size 10 do you refer to? Either one is not fat. It doesn't matter. If you prefer stick insect, who is anyone to say that you are wrong? But then your inability to write coherently and intelligibly make it difficult to take your point seriously.

  • lizzie | November 26, 2012 3:36 PM

    The average american woman IS a size 10 - years ago they referred to it as a "Perfect 10" & by the way, in the UK the sizes run slightly smaller. Check on your facts so that next time you don't make such a fool of yourself!

  • Amy | November 19, 2012 9:24 PM

    A (UK) size 10 is not fat "no matter what you whant (sic) to think." An American size 10 is not fat. I can barely comprehend your second sentence, but she looks pretty "simetric" to me. But a morbidly obese person can be "simetric," too, so I'm not really sure what your point is.

  • Patricia | November 19, 2012 8:29 AM

    It's so hard to take you seriously when you can't even spell. "Simetric", "Shure", "Natter". And I feel bad for the world you live in where size 10 is fat.

  • gerad kennelly | November 15, 2012 3:07 AMReply

    she is a beauty

    i love her
    in films like THE OTHER MAN
    ATONEMENT
    GLORIOUS 39

  • Barry | November 14, 2012 11:25 PMReply

    I don't know why there is such an obsession with women's weight in Hollywood or with designers. It's ridiculous. Compare Courntey Cox or Jennifer Aniston in early episodes of Friends to later episodes. Both women lost some weight and both looked less healthy; Courtney more so. And then, of course, on the set of Titanic James Cameron used to refer to Kate Winslet as Kate Weighs-a-lot. How messed up is that? Kate Winslet was gorgeous in that movie; loved that alabaster skin! ;-) But more importantly, she looked real.

  • Casey | November 14, 2012 2:58 PMReply

    She is smaller than Christina Hendricks, who gets magazine exposure everywhere. I call foul.

  • Carole | November 15, 2012 2:51 PM

    Hendricks gets obsessive exposure that fetishes her figure and she's frequently characterized as plus size, oversize, heavy, big, or otherwise abnormal in some way. She recently cut short an interview for this very reason.

  • Michael Mwedeiros | November 11, 2012 5:16 PMReply

    The antidote is Tiger Lily Road (coming in 2013), a new dark comedy written & directed by Michael Medeiros, starring some very real women and Emmy winner Tom Pelphrey. Tiger Lily Road is a modern fairytale about the sex lives of middle aged women, shot with a small cast and crew in the wilds of small town New England. LIKE US ON FB: https://www.facebook.com/tigerlilyroadmovie?fref=ts

  • lucy | November 10, 2012 2:51 PMReply

    Hollywood is ridiculous, they did create Marylin Monroe as the ultimate american sex-symbol and the woman was pretty curvy !! Hypocrisy at its finest.. Romola you are beautiful and above all stay as you are, be proud !

  • Priscilla | November 17, 2012 9:24 PM

    On top of that the media criticizes a woman when she's "too skinny." Make up your f*cking minds! First they tell a woman she's not skinny a lot, and when she gets that weight they desired, they say she looks unhealthy. No freaking duh. It's honestly not the actress' (or models' while we're at it) fault. It's the pressure of Hollywood and the fashion industry. Speaking of fashion, I hate it. I hate the idea of being told what I should wear and being criticized if I disobey. That's why I don't buy designer names, and I've been told I don't dress very feminine (I mostly wear T-shirts of movies and animes I like). Honestly, I'm proud that I don't and that I'm displaying my personality as opposed to my figure.

  • lori | November 9, 2012 7:24 PMReply

    Are you joking?

  • Blinkie | November 9, 2012 8:11 AMReply

    If she is too "fat" for Hollywood then I don't want live on this planet anymore.

  • aitchcs | November 8, 2012 4:00 PMReply

    I loved her in Daniel Deronda, I Capture the Castle and Atonement.

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