Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Are we all just bricks in the wall?

December 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Body Image

As the rumors and gossip about the reasons behind Brittany Murphy’s untimely death continue to swirl, I find myself increasing disgusted by the reports that indicate her death does not come as a surprise to people who knew her.  One studio executive was quoted as saying, “This is like Lindsey Lohan dying [ . . . ] It really doesn’t come, unfortunately, as a shock.”

To me, that statement is shocking and sickening.

Yes, in the end, we are all responsible for our own personal welfare.  But if your health problems seemed so far out of control that your death at age 32 does not come as a surprise, wouldn’t you want someone to step in?  Even if her death is, in fact, due to natural causes, it seems clear that Brittany Murphy struggled with a number of health concerns.  By many reports she was often dazed on set, too thin, and physically weak.  If that was my family member, friend, or coworker, you’d better believe I would be saying something or doing something.

I’m reminded of the Pink Floyd film The Wall where British schoolchildren are fed into a meat grinder (public school) and turned out as nondescript, indistinct ground meat, ready to serve the country as needed.  That is the Hollywood machine. My heart aches to think of how many more young women are in the same situation as Brittany Murphy.  Brunettes go blond, hips slowly disappear, clavicles become more pronounced, and lips become fuller.  Each actor and actress becomes another brick in the Hollywood wall, easily replaced if they crumble.

When I watch a film from the 1970s, I’m astounded at how the expectations for beauty are so different.  Hair wasn’t always over-stylized, women weren’t waxed from head to toe, men didn’t require six-pack abs, and kids were dressed as kids, not Abercrombie models.  Those films seem to indicate that natural beauty and human variety was more valued.  Of course, this isn’t to say it was perfect back then – far from it – but just based on a visual first glance, it’s clear that our expectations for what a leading actor or actress looks like have both heightened and narrowed.

These expectations are endangering and ending lives, so when does this change?  What do we do?  If these executives, friends, and even relatives aren’t speaking up or taking action, do we?  Are we our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers?  What can we do?


15 Responses to “Are we all just bricks in the wall?”
  1. marzipan says:

    It’s not that I believe we should be our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers, but I do think that we need to accept a certain amount of responsibility for those people in our life. Brittany Murphy’s death is a tragedy, particularly with the surge of rumors that have come in the wake of her death, and it seems that people are so quick to say “it doesn’t come as a surprise.” NOW after the fact. I guess it seems that if there are people in our lives that won’t “surprise” us if they drop dead, maybe saying something sooner than later would be appropriate..

  2. Mish says:

    MY heart aches more than anything for little girls. It’s why I did the exposed post. It’s why I am trying to let go of dieting in my mind and switching to listening to my body. We live in a world where NOTHING matters about our soul..it’s all about what is on the outside. We punish ourselves from the outside in and it’s NEVER enough.

    It’s not just Hollywood..but it comes from here. It’s disgusting. Absoltuley sickening. It makes me want to scream, cry, and put everyone in holidays on a chocolate conveyor belt from ‘i Love Lucy’.

    There’s lots of lofty things that ‘we’ could do. However, I think it comes down to how you live your life…what mental talk you allows…what little comments about food/exercise/body image you let fly out..and how you live your day to day life. It’s small changes like this which impact those around you.

    Thank you for this post. Great! ~M

  3. Joy Manning says:

    As someone who has watched loved ones battle drug addiction and anorexia, I have to say that I would not be so quick to assume that those in her life were saying and doing nothing to express concern and offer help. They may well have been. When someone is locked into a pattern of destructive behavior no, amount of help or encouragement can make a difference until the person herself wants to change her life.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I am with you, Joy … the person needs to be ready to accept they have a problem and be willing to face it. Isn’t that the first step in AA? It’s similar with any addiction: you can’t make a change or commit to making a change til you see a problem in the first place. Even with all the love and support in the world.

    • CandiceBP says:

      Excellent point. This is something I am newly confronting with someone in my life right now and you can only do so much.

      We could refuse to watch films that promote these actors/actresses but that seems like it would be a difficult effort to promote and probably futile in the end. I suppose this is all about what to do when you feel helpless.

  4. mamaV says:

    Candice, I am with you. I listen to friends, parents, and teachers every day who reach out on my personal blog asking “what should I do if I suspect an eating disorder?”

    How about TALK to the person?

    People see all the signs, but they are scared to approach the person, or they feel it is not their place. And I don’t think its a stretch to say that in Hollywood this stuff becomes same old same old. I travel to LA quite often for business, and it is the Twilight Zone, seriously, the place is a plasticized version of reality. Going from down home mid western Milwaukee, to Bizzaro World is quite a reality check…and I always keep the reality of that city in my mind when I blog because all of these seemingly destructive behaviors become NORMAL.

    With that said, here is a example of how I am a total hypocrite!

    There is a girl I see at the gym nearly every time I go. She is clearly anorexic, chewing gum while she first walks the stairmaster for an hour, the bones in her face prominent (I am talking the super hard old fashion one that most people are off of in 5 min). Then she is on to the elliptical machines for an hour minimum. I watch her and I think about dropping her a note, stopping her on the way out — but I refrain. I don’t “know” her.

    What if she gets really pissed?

    Its not my business — or is it?

    Who the heck am I if I preach this stuff everyday, but when confronted with it, I do nothing.

    What if something happens to her?

    Thus far, I go on with my day, but maybe today will be the day I get over MY fear and reach out to her….or maybe not.


    • CandiceBP says:

      That’s a really interesting dilemma. I would also be tempted to say something/drop a note but also worried that it’s not my place to do so. I don’t know what to do there.

      My brother spent 3 yrs living in Miami and says the same thing about that city as you did about LA – that the plasticized and altered becomes the norm, unquestioned.

    • NewMe says:


      Why not leave her a note with the URL of your website or an ED website?

      She might just throw it out, but…who knows, maybe it’s what she needs.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi NewMe: I know- what is my problem?!! I don’t know why I am scared to do it. Ok, next time I see her I will try and report back!

    • heart says:

      IME, she won’t get pissed, exactly, she’ll just look you in the face and lie. Which can be a pretty angry thing to do, I guess, but she wouldn’t be angry with you personally, it’s the whole world she’s too special for.

      Girl in a CPR/First Aid class I was teaching at a Red Cross fainted “because you were talking about blood.” She was classic anorexic, baggy style of clothing, little girl posing, anemic as hell, probably hadn’t eaten anything to speak of in weeks. I asked her when she’d last eaten & she said breakfast. I asked her what she’d eaten and she told me she’d had eggs and toast. One of her classmates bought her an OJ from the vending machine & she *pretended* to take a sip and handed it back. The whole class was genuinely concerned about this girl and wanting to help her and she responds with lies.

      I find people like that very provoking. Passive-aggressive control freaks masquerading as victims. We’re all living in the same world together, but some people think they are just way too special and sensitive for the rest of us. I’m glad you have compassion for them, someone should, but I can’t.

      It’s very sad that the girl in your gym is sick, and I’d feel bad seeing that, too, but if she’s too whatever to drink juice with you before/during/after your workouts, why waste your attention where she won’t allow it to do any good? See if she responds to a social overture that involves nutrition, and if she blows you off, that’s her choice and her path and not your problem. Help the ones who’ll let you.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi heart: Your perspective is interesting…but honestly seems kinda harsh.

        On my personal blog mamavision dot com I’ve been talking with girls with eating disorders since 2006, I would guess having private and public conversations with hundreds of individuals. The problem is that having an eating disorder is like being brainwashed. Its not that the individual is trying to act “special” — they are feel the total opposite!

        One of the most expressed terms I hear is feeling “unworthy.” That kills me. The stem appears to be outward and vain at times, but inside, trust me, they are dieing.

        I am perfect example of someone who starved themselves for vanity, modeling required it. During that time, I am sure I pissed alot of people off, and looking back at my journals I am shocked to read how kind of cocky I was about it — expressing confidence in my willpower. I feel really ashamed about that, but I know that I was in a really, really bad place that I never want to go back to.

        I guess what I am trying to say is to try to find it within yourself to find compassion. Eating disorders are hell on earth, the majority of sufferers would say, hands down, they would rather be dead than live with one…and that says it all.
        Take care,

  5. lissa10279 says:

    Candice, awesome post. I think we DO have a responsibility to some extent to reach out, esp if it’s someone we love. They might rebel and kick and scream, but sometimes that’s what they need to snap and realize, “wow, this is it. I will die.”

    mV in your case with the girl at the gym … if she were a friend, I think it’d be OK, but I know I’d be upset if someone I didn’t know came up to me. Then again, maybe you’d be the one to get through to her?!! You never know.

  6. sleepydumpling says:

    Sadly, it keeps happening. And there are some waiting to happen. Young, vulnerable women like Lindsay or Britney Spears or Amy Winehouse. The people in their lives clean them up long enough to get them back on stage or in front of a camera, and then the whole shebang starts again. And these young women are just that, very, very young women.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that it is a phenomena happening with a lot of young women in the public eye.

  7. julie says:

    I don’t know how much you can really do for a person, even if you’re very very close, as in sister, parent, husband. It’s not like they’re deliberately annoying you by leaving the toilet seat up, likely they’ll just end up resenting you. I resent advice that I don’t want, though sometimes I listen, from the right person, approached in the right manner.

    Speaking of old films, I watched The Muppet Movie a few weeks back, and not only were they not stick skinny, they didn’t even have huge fake boobs! And on an off-note, I watched some weird 70s cult movie last night, and the women had pubic hair! And small boobs. Things have really changed.

    • CandiceBP says:

      Those are exactly the details that stand out to me in those films, too. Women were allowed to be as they were naturally. I feel like we’re getting to a point where that looks almost startling.

WordPress SEO
Get Adobe Flash player Plugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes