Meryl Streep’s advice to young women: ‘Don’t worry so much about your weight’


Here are some photos of Meryl Streep at last night’s 14th Annual Monte Cristo Awards. Meryl was honored for her years of work on the stage and screen. I’m also including a few pics of Catherine Zeta Jones (and her bangs trauma) and Michael Douglas, who were in attendance as well. You know what I love? I love Meryl’s glasses. The frames are so old-school, they’re actually pretty trendy. It’s like she picked up the frames from the Mad Men set.

Meryl was recently at Indiana University to pick up an honorary doctorate. She spoke at the event, and she gave some great advice to young women and to the ageists who run Hollywood:

Meryl Streep is returning to college! The 64-year-old Oscar winner recently visited Indiana University, where she accepted an honorary doctoral degree from the Bloomington school. During her acceptance speech, Streep revealed she wasn’t so confident about her looks at the time she started acting.

“I was always in plays, but I thought it was vain to be an actress,” Streep admitted. “Plus, I thought I was too ugly to be an actress. Glasses weren’t fabulous then.”

Streep went on, “Many of my friends woke up at 3 years of age and said, ‘I have to be on stage.’ I never had that. I’ve always been an omnivore, interested in way too many things, but I found the one profession that fed all my appetites.”

Fast-forward to today: Streep is one of the most beloved actors alive.

As for being over 50 in the entertainment industry, Streep said, “When I was 40, I was offered three witches in one summer. And I thought, ‘OK, this is it. You turn 40, and oh my god.’ The only reason I have a career at 64 is that I’ve had hits later in life. I’ve found that once certain movies are out, audiences aren’t so age-phobic. They were willing, and they were happy.”

Streep also gave one very important piece of advice for aspiring young performers. “For young women, I would say, don’t worry so much about your weight,” she said. “Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird, that’s your strength. Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up. I used to hate my nose. Now I don’t. It’s OK.”

[From E! News]

All women – not just young women – spend too much time thinking about their weight. We spend too much time telling ourselves that we’re not pretty/thin/smart enough to do something. We wait for permission to have ambition. It sucks. But at least Meryl is here to show us that it doesn’t have to be that way. Incidentally, her next role is of an rock n’ roll mama. Awesome.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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34 Responses to “Meryl Streep’s advice to young women: ‘Don’t worry so much about your weight’”

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  1. lower-case deb says:

    when we’re young, a toddler, we’re praised for our chubby cheeks, chubby legs, a big baby, a cute huggable baby.
    a good and hearty eater, drains the mother’s milk and eats grass and drinks pollen. here, have one more rusk, well done.

    suddenly, one morning, we wake up one day and find chubby is not praisable anymore. don’t eat so much, count your calories, lose weight. suddenly it’s sunken cheeks, thigh gaps, concave stomachs.

    then, at a certain age, when gravity wins, and elasticity snaps, they say that it’s better to gain some weight, fill in the wrinkles with a bit of fat. a wraith-like crone is evil but a chubby mama is loveable.

  2. Tatjana says:

    I’m sorry, but If you haven’t been fat, you do not know how it feels. And no matter how much all the Meryls and Jennifers out there want us to think that they know, they don’t. And I know they have good intent, but they don’t know.
    Ask Melissa McCharty what she thinks about this.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree that it’s easier to say that when weight has not been a major issue for that person.

      But I think her point is still valid, there are much better things to focus attention on. Kind of reminds me of what Rashida Jones was saying a little while ago, about females putting too much energy into their appearance. You don’t have to ignore it and stop caring all together, but it shouldn’t be the main focus of your life.

      • Tatjana says:

        It’s easier to focus you attention on other things when you’re not being teased, when you don’t feel uncomfortable your skin every frickin second, when every day you’re not bombarded with images of beautiful people who do not look like you, when everyday you’re not told you are wrong.
        I’m sick and tired of these celebrities scoring points with the public by saying things they don’t understand.

      • Anners says:

        I feel Tatjana’s pain (hers was my first reaction, too, as I continue to struggle with weight) but on further consideration I think it was meant in the same spirit that Lucy2 pointed out, that as women we focus far too much on our outward appearance and we are so much more than that.

    • Renee28 says:

      There’s a difference between someone being overweight and someone constantly worrying about those last 10 lbs. Obviously, if you’re overweight it’s an issue but there are some people who are always dieting or exercising to drop a few vanity pounds. If that’s what she’s talking about I understand her point.

      • Nympha says:

        That’s what I thought, too. Of course it is an issue if a person is overweight. But lots of women (that I know, at least) think they are fat if they have a single fat roll. It saddens me to no end that women feel so much pressure to fit size 0.

    • Nighty says:

      @Tatjiana, I believe that one should worry about weight if it’s an health issue, if someone’s overweight. And I do believe it can be really problematic for your own self-esteem alongside with your health. I’ve always been thin, so I cannot fully understand how that might make you feel when others tease you (thank god my parents taught me to respect other and never to make fun of anyone for their physical appearance)
      But it is completely idiotic (and here you have to agree with me), if a woman my height (5’7”) worries that she should only weigh 120 pounds or something of the sort, or cry out because she weighs 140 pounds and goes frantic because society (especially Hollywood) says 140 pounds is being fat for someone who is 5’7”…

      • Tatjana says:

        I do agree with you. And I’ve lost the weight, but the body and self-esteem issue don’t go away.
        The thing is, maybe not with Meryl, but with other celebrities, they say things they know will go well with the public.
        If Melissa said something like that, people would be all over her. She almost has to apologise for being on the screen in some interviews.

    • flotsam says:

      Good point, but I think I’d get behind it more if I thought that Streep were criticizing women who worry about their weight. In which case, that criticism would only further target overweight women who get made fun of for their body. She’s not denying that our society discriminates against fat people, she’s just encouraging women in general value themselves for a variety of reasons.

  3. Loopy says:

    They need to make a part 2 of She Devil, that movie was hilarious,i think we sometimes forget that Meryl is such a great comedic actress too ‘Death Becomes Her’ one of my faves.

  4. Hiddles forever says:

    I can’t believe she’s 64. She’s my hero 🙂

  5. Jennifer says:

    I love her. She has never done anything to irritate me or piss me off, and that’s saying something.

  6. Tania says:

    Well if you’re getting unhealthy I’m going to tell you. I have a 10 year old brother who randomly got big, all I did was have him exercise daily and eat well. He’s now at a healthy weight and avoids all that junk unlike before. I wasn’t going wait till he was 16 and morbidly obese to do something about it. You have to care at some point. Not obsessively though.

    Also I understand Meryl but I think it’s because she’s Meryl that’s why she’s still going. Really hope women above 50 in Hollywood will be given equal opportunities like the counterparts. Love Meryl and she looks great.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      Well, that’s nice what you did for your brother but I really hope you were subtle about it and didn’t “tell him” that he’s too damn fat. It sounds a bit like it. And here’s a secret: Overweight adults know. Trust me, it’s not new information. So support is good but telling someone they’re unhealthy is superfluous in 90% of cases. Trust me, I was aware of my weight before losing a good chunk of it. If someone had informed me, I would’ve hit them. Caring at some point is important when it comes to children though, I agree.

      And bless her but that piece of advice was unnecessary. We all know we “should” focus on other things but it’s nearly impossible.

    • Grant says:

      Right. Just ask Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones what being over 40 in Hollywood is like for a woman.

    • John says:

      Tania, do you two not have parents, that you took it upon yourself to decide that a boy in that chubby/awkward stage needed to start obsessing about his weight?
      I hope you haven’t given him girl-weight-crazy and made his relationship with food as unhealthy as a lot of teenaged females suffer from (ie food is the enemy, never eat anything you crave, count calories, burn off every calorie you ingest).

      • Tania says:

        @john actually my parents are no more. So he’s my responsibility as well as my granny. He only got really big because the school upgraded their canteen which had mostly junk food. Changing schools, diet and having him exercise and having more outdoor activities did help. I didn’t have to reiterate it to him, it was pretty normal. Nothing in the obsessive I have to be skinny way.

    • Merritt says:

      Adults know that they are overweight. In my experience people that feel they need to tell you about it, are being rude and obnoxious jerks.

      And I do hope that anyone intervening with a child gaining weight is doing so in a truly helpful way, and not in a way that will lead the child to have body image issues later on.
      There was a woman who wrote an article and I think later a book detailing how she basically shamed and humiliated her young daughter into weight loss. And she was proud of this, not caring about the damage that could have done to her child.

    • Isadora says:

      I agree with most you all said, but I think what’s fabulous about family is, that you can be honest. I was never overweight in my life and I have a pretty healthy relationship with food, but my mom would always tell me if she thought I have to be careful with my weight (and beause she’s pretty direct she would probably say “Isadora, your ass is getting fat.” And no, I did never develop an ED because of something like that.)
      Because it’s so much easier to exercise a bit and eat healthier if you gained only a few pounds than when everybody is polite and says “no no, it’s just a phase” and suddenly you find yourself with 30 lbs more and are maybe unhappy about it.

      But that’s family, I wouldn’t even talk to my friends like that. And of course not random people.

      • Merritt says:

        That’s weird because many people with body image problems say the roots of their disorder were from within the family. The things you say to the people you are supposed to care about matter.

      • Isadora says:

        I really think it depends on the general dynamics of a family. Because honestly, eating disorders are so much more than just being a bit unhappy with your body. From what I’ve heard of other people with eating disorders it’s mostly about lack of self-love (in general, not just body-wise) and lack of control over one’s life, feeling stuck, feeling inconsequential etc. So yes, I think a lot of disorders are from within the family, but probably because it’s dynamics are dysfunctional and you don’t feel loved enough or whatever – not because someone said you gained a few pounds recently. And why have I said family? Because normally you know these people best and you know exactly if they are just honest (as is the case with my mother) or nasty.

        So yes, I think in a healthy, loving family you should be able to say that someone’s new haircut is a bit ugly, that they gained a few pounds or their feet stink. Who else is going to say it?

      • Merritt says:


        I have a loving family too. But if they were too became classless and rude and make very specific comments about my body, then I would tell them where to go. Telling someone that ass is big, is never okay.

        If you are generally concerned that a loved one is developing unhealthy habits, then phrase it that way. Ask them if they are okay. Ask them if something in their life has gotten stressful. But you don’t need to be rude. And frankly what you and Tania have suggested comes off as rude and possibly damaging to a person’s psyche.

  7. Kelly says:

    Well said. Incredible woman.

  8. zbornak syndrome says:

    I don’t think she is referring to the morbidly obese or unhealthy. I think she just means in general all women (even thin and fit) worry too much about our weight. I know I used to when I was in my twenties. We women are too hard on ourselves, if we are confident and secure then we’re seen as snobs or goodie goodies.

    Reminds me of that scene in “Mean Girls’ when the girls are in front of Regina’s mirror saying what they hate about themselves. And Lindsay’s character felt compelled to join in the body shaming. Sad really. You get to a certain age or point when you’re just like whatever, as long as I’m healthy.

    After watching my Mom and Grandma battle breast cancer within the same year and lose, then me having to battle it, it puts things in perspective about what a healthy body REALLY means.

    • Katherine says:

      Easy for a tall woman to say. I also felt that way until I hit menopause and started seeing weight gain. I began to see how women with extra weight are discriminated against in normal life, I can only imagine what it’s like in the entertainment industry.

      • Nighty says:

        But that discrimination is what’s wrong in this nowadays society and the concept of healthy / beauty we witness on a daily basis.. Of course with ageing comes weight gaining.. 10 years ago I was thinner than I’m now (cellulitis is a b*tch) and I have to be careful about weigh… and it will get worse..
        But this mentality that women in their 50s have to have the same bodies they had in their 20s is cr*p… bullsh*t and has to change, starting with us women not body shaming each other…

    • Amanduh says:

      …well said. Battling something like that must put everything in perspective.
      Good luck in your fight…Kick it’s @ss!! Make Bea Arthur proud 😉

  9. Annie says:

    What Meryl is saying is, from how I intetpreted it, don’t use being overweight as a crutch through life.

  10. KinChicago says:

    Love this… Love this affirmation and positivity so much more than GOOP!

  11. Pizza Pete says:

    Maybe Catherine had a bad botox job on her forehead and she’s trying to cover it up with bangs? Otherwise, why Catherine…why?

  12. Santolina says:

    Meryl, the black frames and outfit are burying you alive. Do. Not. Wear. Black. That is all.