Emma Watson: Fashion perpetuates an image that’s ‘dangerously unhealthy’


Emma Watson is really trying to appeal to directors and casting agents these days. Granted, she may really feel this way, but in interview after interview, she’s going out of her way to prove that she’s capable of more than just poorly written teen roles and the odd supporting part in dramas. She’s also slapping away this idea that she enjoys the whole red carpet/magazine photoshoot thing – Emma tells The Guardian that the fashion industry projects a “dangerously unhealthy” image for young girls and women:

Emma Watson has criticised the “dangerously unhealthy” image projected by the fashion industry and said the pressure to look perfect has taken its toll on her. The actor has also described her doomed attempts to merge into the background as a student at an American university, where she found herself being trailed everywhere by British photographers.

After the recent New York premiere of Noah, she tweeted a photograph of the array of cosmetics – and a guardian angel pin – that she said were essential aids to her flawless appearance, and another of herself in a backless dress captioned: “I did NOT wake up like this.”

The actress said she is better at taking criticism these days than she once was. “As a younger woman, that pressure got me down, but I’ve made my peace with it. With airbrushing and digital manipulation, fashion can project an unobtainable image that’s dangerously unhealthy. I’m excited about the ageing process. I’m more interested in women who aren’t perfect. They’re more compelling.”

Watson became famous playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies and has been constantly in work since. She is about to start filming a thriller, Regression, by Alejandro Amenábar and is also trying to complete her degree at Brown University, Rhode Island. She enrolled in 2009 for what would have been a four year course, but has taken several breaks for film work, and spent a year studying at Oxford.

“After Harry Potter, all that mattered was university,” she said, in an interview with the Sunday Times. “It wasn’t always easy to break down barriers, as having men from the British press following me with cameras didn’t help my mission to integrate.”

The American press, by contrast, “afforded me so much privacy”, but her fellow students recognised her at once. “On the first day, I walked into the canteen and everyone went completely silent and turned around to look at me. I had to say to myself ‘it’s OK, you can do this’. You just have to take a deep breath and gather your courage.”

[From The Guardian]

I have a love-hate relationship with these kinds of quotes from anyone who has actively participated in and profited from the industry which they are now bad-mouthing. On one side, I like that someone so young is thinking about the long-term effects of this sort of Photoshop Culture. On the other hand… Emma has appeared in every magazine under the sun, even guest-editing some publications. She’s also had beauty contracts (for Lancome) and fashion contracts (Burberry). I don’t know – it just strikes me as wanting her cake and eating it too. She’ll take the $$$ but she’ll complain about how those companies perpetuate unhealthy stereotypes. Then again… I do prefer Emma to some of the other 23-year-olds who act like they know everything about everything.



Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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48 Responses to “Emma Watson: Fashion perpetuates an image that’s ‘dangerously unhealthy’”

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  1. mkyarwood says:

    So it does, but Emma, you just happen to fit into the template.

  2. Melissa says:

    No sh**t sherlock, getting so tired of starlets paying lip service to generic cliches in order to be as inoffensive as possible. She’s not exactly boycotting any facet of the fashion world is she? If anything she is more involved than most. Saying all that she is one of the least irritating young actresses at the moment – well I’d take her comments over J.L’s weird, hypocritical stance anyways.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Agree with your assessment. She seems nice, but if you think something is dangerously unhealthy, don’t participate in it. If you participate in it, you’re part of the problem.

      • Especially since she has the $$$$$$$ to do something different. Emma isn’t like the majority of the 20something actresses in her bracket–she’s got a shit ton of money. She DOESN’T have to do anything she doesn’t feel like doing….

        I’m just spitballing here, but if she was so worried about that sort of thing, why doesn’t she pony up some of her own money to make a difference. I don’t know–start an online magazine that shows models of varying sizes and shapes. Work with (of which I am sure there are a bajillion different ones in LA alone) little known, but TALENTED designers to make clothes for them–none of that mediocre crap that we’ve been seeing for the past years…

        How many teenage girls would go to that website, just because Emma Watson’s name is on it…quit talking about it, especially when you CAN make a difference. I can just imagine what *I* would do if I had the money and opportunity….hopefully I wouldn’t just talk..

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        What a great idea. I bet you would do it, too.

      • mom2two says:

        Exactly. It’s not like she needs the money where she needs to do the fashion contracts.

      • mytbean says:

        We all do this though… we say we don’t like industry but we vote with our dollars daily. Junk food, fuel powered cars, resistance to recycling. etc… We pull more weight as a population on far more serious issues than this little girl does with anything at all.

  3. paola says:

    I still like her.. she has a point.. maybe she’s just trying to understand many of the things she is surrounded by in her life. If I had to be on a magazine for my quotes when I was her age I would have been crucified and burnt alive by fans.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      If I could go back in time and slap myself when I was her age, I would. Lordy, I thought I knew everything.

      • Nicolette says:

        Didn’t we all? I doubt any of us can look book and not have a cringe worthy memory of something stupid we did or said.

      • I don’t think I’ve said anything TOO stupid yet, but then again, I’m not ever going to be interviewed.

        But still–these interviews are approved by pr people, right? So they know what they’re saying??

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        VC you are just very mature in your outlook. I think because of your personality, the strong women in your life and some life experiences, good and bad, you are very thoughtful and deep. I was a twit pretty much. Nothing really bad ever happened to me as a teenager, my parents were loving and comfortable, I was pretty, if I say so myself and had lots of friends. I was a nice teenager, but when I was 22, I met and got engaged to a very eligible handsome young man, and for about two years I just thought all of these good things were my due and I had it all figured out. I was insufferable. Oh, I blush. Don’t worry, life smacked me down and I had it coming. He cheated, I was infertile, he broke my heart, I got a divorce, and I grew. But omg, I deserved the take down. Lol.

      • Liv says:

        GoodNamesAllTaken, you’re cracking me up! I hope life is done with taking you down! ;-)

  4. Aurie says:

    Yup and her whole university quotes are getting obnoxious……THREE breaks…seriously? Natalie Portman, Jodie Foster, Brooke Shields had it a lot tougher than she does at make your own major Brown and still managed to do it in 4 years with no breaks.

    By the way I read her Wonderland magazine interview…it’s at Ohnotheydidnt….and after spouting the BS about how Hermione would be happier with Harry, she backtracked and said something like “If you had read the interview you would see it was something of a joke” except I did read the interview and in no way did she and JKR indicate they were joking about it…instead Emma was trying to appear like a super feminist. Also, she can’t claim the interview itself was taken out of context since she edited it.

  5. Sixer says:

    I like the idea of them posting the bare face selfies and whatnots – better just to demonstrate that make up, designer fashion, stylists and all the rest of it can create beautiful dolls that we all like to play with, but also that the doll is just dress up; not the real person.

    They just annoy me when they’re sanctimonious about it. The understanding can be achieved without being priggish.

    • LAK says:

      Maybe because I grew up with a super glamorous mother who ‘put on her face’ every day and also used wigs sometimes etc, I never had any hangups about images in magazine. Mind you, I also had an aunt who was a model during the 60s/70s, so we were always aware of image vs reality and or the effort required to ‘put the face’ on.

      I still find it hard to understand that people, especially teenagers, don’t realise that it’s an image and not reality.

      I celebrate the image, but I don’t feel belittled or insecure by it.

      That said, i’m glad they are posting before and after selfies so that people can understand the difference between the 2 and not feel so invested in the image and harm themselves when they don’t live up to the image.

      • Tatjana says:

        I had the opposite experience.
        I was fat in my childhood and teenage years. And I got teased a little bit, but nothing major. But in magazines, and on TV there were always images of beautiful people, and none of them looked like me. Society told me everyday that the way I looked was wrong and ugly.I felt ugly, even if my parents told me I was pretty and never commented my weight.
        It does srew with your head. There are insecurities, body issues, self esteem issues that stayed with me to this day, even though I’m not fat anymore.
        Hopefully, starlets like Emma, or JLaw or Lorde will shift a change and teens of today won’t feel like that. Although, so far, Lorde is the only on that doesn’t seem like a hypocrite.

      • Eleanor Zissou says:

        The media had a pretty big influence on me too when I was a teenager.

      • Violet says:

        Me too. I have always know that what the mass media projects (tv, fashion industry, film industry, etc.) it is not real in any way.

  6. kimber says:

    Eye roll…what an original interview.

  7. Summer says:

    Then why is she constabtly trying to sell herself as a fasion icon? Why does she involve herself with so many fasion or beauty projects? Why is she promoting things she thinks are dangerous?

  8. Londerland says:

    It does need saying, and I do like her, but I am sick to death of hearing this line from actresses and models who have made a fortune capitalising on this “dangerously unhealthy” stereotype. It just seems incredibly self-serving – they’ve made their money, and now they can afford to give two sh*ts about the image they’re projecting – maybe because some other hot young thing is now first in line for those contracts? Or maybe they’re tired of being papped looking less than fresh, they decide the standards are unfair?

    Like Tyra Banks raging against fat-shaming on her show – funny how the beauty standard became cruel and harmful and unrealistic the minute she stopped fitting into it; didn’t hurt her when she was the skinny young thing in every magazine…

    If it’s so harmful, stop making money off it, or just shut up and accept that you are part of the machine that’s doing the damage.

  9. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I have seen a dangerous, more severe turn in my lifetime. When I was 11 or 12, I NEVER once thought about whether or not I was thin, or being ” sexy” or even pretty. I was just riding my bike around and wishing I’d already done my homework. When I was a teenager, models were thin and beautiful, but there wasn’t all of this pressure to have a body that is an unattainable, for most people, without plastic surgery and photoshop. So I do think it’s more dangerous now.

    Though, as I said above, as long as she’s participating in it, she’s part of the problem, so it seems a little hypocritical to complain about it.

    • I think it’s more your family values, than what the media projects. Like me, for instance. I haven’t been skinny since I was about 12 years old–that’s when my boobs and butt started coming in. I know that I won’t EVER be as skinny as Emma. Ever. I have never wanted to be as skinny as her, or any other model. I’ve never looked up to them, as a beauty standard. I’ve never had that pushed on me, as a beauty standard. My mom is the type to tell you that if you want to lose weight, put down the soda and the processed crap–and then lets you do as you please.

      I remember a few years ago, my little sister turned faux vegetarian (said she was a vegetarian, but was still eating poultry and fish)–she said she was going on a diet at the dinner table. She was twelve. My mom interrupted her and told her that she wasn’t going on a diet, but that she was going to be eating healthy.

      I also kind of don’t get why people would be jealous of a celeb’s looks. Like I’m not talking about saying ‘I am so jealous of so and so’s face’, in a joking manner–but actually flat out hating the celeb BECAUSE they are gorgeous. Like, sure, I think Angelina Jolie is one of the most beautiful women in the world–but, for better or worse, I wouldn’t change myself to look like her (I look like my mom).

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yes, you made the think about the environment I grew up in, and you’re right, my mother never focused on our weight at all. We were asked to try something if we’d never had it before, but if you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to eat it or clean your plate. I was thin as a teenager, but she never commented on it one way or the other, or about anyone else’s weight, or said don’t eat that, you’ll be fat, etc.

        And I totally agree about the jealousy thing. My looks aren’t perfect, at all, but they’re part of me and loving them is part of loving myself. I wouldn’t change them, even though they could certainly be improved. I’d be afraid I wouldn’t feel like me. The only thing I’m ever envious of are beautiful legs. Once I was in the ladies room at a department store, and this woman came in with just the most lovely legs and I wanted to ask her what it was like to walk around on those beautiful things. But I thought she might think I was a nut job, so I didn’t.

      • Tatjana says:

        That wasn’t the case with my. As I said above, my parents stressed the importance of being healthy, but never mantioned my weight. Nor did my classmates.
        Yet, I had huge body and self esteem issues because of the media.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I definitely think that has gotten worse.

  10. Gwen says:

    I just can’t with her.. This is just bla bla bla from her, since she’s obviously trying to be part of the fashion industry.

  11. Maum says:

    I’ll refer you back to my post on the previous Emma Watson story… :)

  12. Sarah says:

    Her fashion contracts could have contributed to her stance on this, so lets give her the benefit of the doubt. we will see if she sticks to it in the future then we can call her out.

  13. boredsuburbanhousewife says:

    I can’t look at her without laughing about the Modern Family episode where Claire accuses Phil Dunphy of having an inappropriate crush on Hermione Granger. His response– all I said was has she not blossomed into a lovely young woman? So now I think of her as Phil’s crush.

  14. sc says:

    Can this stick thin girl – who has lost significant amounts of weight over the last years – please stop talking like she’s not also skinny? I mean, be as thin as you want, but STOP pretending like you’re the “curvy” or “normal sized” girl speaking out against thin models. That’s even more harmful.

    • Anna-fo-Fanna says:

      On point! This is the same problem I have with JLaw saying stuff like this. Fine, maybe originally they were the “Hollywood curvy girls,” but they have since succumbed to the pressure and thinned down quite a bit. Then they still talk like things are the way they always were. It’s disingenuous and leads girls to think that even these actresses with slyph-like figures are “big.”

      It’s the kind of dysmorphia that leads even our savvy commentors to rag on Mindy Kaling about ‘lying’ about being a size ten. First of all, we only see the girl in photos, and second of all, because of girls like Emma and JLaw and the Hollywood establishment, we HAVE NO IDEA what a ten looks like on film.

  15. mena says:

    If this had come from Shailene Woodley or Lorde or even that model who gave that TED talk, I would believe them.

    Coming from Emma Watson, this just reads as phony lip service.

    She can’t have it both ways.

  16. Dara says:

    Says the double zero fashion girl. I like that she admits she does not wake up looking that good, however have we ever really seen her look bad? Sure she make disagree with it, but I do not know if she is self-aware enough to realize she perpetuates that standard too.

  17. kelly says:

    In my opinion, it’s BECAUSE she has been an active member of that world that she is able to credibly make a comment on how “dangerously unhealthy” it is. Her guest editing job, “Free People” and humane, eco-clothing line (rip) were her trying to make changes in the fashion world in this regard.

    Anyway, she isn’t saying anything that we didn’t already know or that isn’t true, so why is it an issue?

  18. Bella says:

    I dont think fashion is unhealthy, its how you look at it. Im a graphic designer but I have this big passion for design and fashion. I love watching all the fashion weeks and all the fashion editorials. I love taking photos, doing fashion productions, stylings,etc. Its the industry in wich I work and feel the most exited. I love the creative process, how you can express yourself through fashion. I doesnt have to be superficial and shallow. I think being part of the Hollywood machine is a much dangeorus place as you can observe people like Lindsay Lohan or all the child stars. Getting glamed up for a red carpet its part of the job, and who wouldnt like that? Its not like people watching at home dont get that she in real life doesnt look like that. People are not dumb you can see for yourself the difffernece when you are glamed up for a event and when you are at home are in your pjs.

  19. panda bear says:

    I think she is taking fashion too seriously. I can see why looking perfect would be an issue for her as she is in the public eye but for regular people like myself, I think fashion can be fun and a form of expression. I don’t feel the need to look perfect or beautiful – I love my sweatpants. But I do have to look presentable at work!

  20. Just Me says:

    OMG. I love how you guys put these articles side by side. It would be even more amazing if your preview images side eyed each other.