It’s hardly a secret that the worlds of fashion and entertainment don’t exactly make it easy to have a healthy body image. With female celebrities constantly—and unfairly—targeted by paparazzi and scrutinised by tabloids for their looks, and society generally pushing the misogynistic message that most of a woman’s worth comes from her appearance: it’s a downright cruel pressure cooker.
And it’s one that’s particularly awful towards vulnerable young stars who are just starting out in the industry, with many of Hollywood’s now A-listers previously opening up about how they were body-shamed to change their appearance if they ever wanted to make it in their careers. From Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Lea Michele and Gigi Hadid such celebrities who’ve bravely opened up about the times they were told to change their looks and how they overcame it.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Despite being considered one of the most beautiful women in the world (and literally winning Miss World in 2000), Priyanka Chopra Jonas was told she’d have to change her body if she wanted to become an actress. The Bollywood-turned-Hollywood star opened up about the sexist request from a certain director-producer—which was supported by her own manager at the time—in her 2021 memoir, Unfinished.
“After a few minutes of small talk, the director/producer told me to stand up and twirl for him,” she wrote.
“I did. He stared at me long and hard, assessing me, and then suggested that I get a boob job, fix my jaw, and add a little more cushioning to my butt.”
She continued: “If I wanted to be an actress, he said, I’d need to have my proportions ‘fixed,’ and he knew a great doctor in L.A. he could send me to. My then-manager voiced his agreement with the assessment.”
Like Chopra Jonas, Lea Michele was also told to undergo plastic surgery if she wanted to get work in the industry. In her case? It was her manager who requested it.
“When I was 15, my mother and I went to meet a manager who said, ‘You have to get a nose job in order for me to work with you… My mother would say to me, ‘Barbra Streisand never got a nose job. You’re not getting a nose job’,” the Glee star told the Magazine in 2011.
Years later, Michele spoke about how she was happy that she never altered her nose.
“I wanted to look at my face and have it be my face. And why I’m so grateful that I chose that—made that decision and stuck true to what was right for me—was because I did move to Los Angeles and I ended up landing a role that, maybe if I had looked different, I wouldn’t have gotten the job,” she said.
Easily one of today’s reigning models, Gigi Hadid is as gorgeous as they come, but even she faced criticism over her physique. In 2020, the now mother-of-one opened up about how she was told early in her career that she didn’t have a “runway body”.
“[Jean Paul Gaultier] was the first designer that let me walk on a runway in Paris, it was in his last ready-to-wear show,” she told the magazine of her first Paris Fashion Week runway experience in 2015.
“At the time, I was still starting out in my career, I was coming out of high school, I still had my volleyball body.”
She continued: “I knew how hard I worked to have those muscles, to be curved in those places—I kind of miss it now. At the time, people were hard on me and tried to say that I didn’t have a runway body.”