As if we needed any more reasons to love Beanie Feldstein (you’ve seen Lady Bird, right? You’ve read this list of reasons to love Beanie Feldstein, right?) she now went ahead and penned an amazing personal essay for Refinery 29 about an extremely personal — and important — topic.
The Jewish actress, who’s currently starring alongside Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway (nbd) revealed that she’s noticed a curious trend over the past couple of months: People can’t seem to stop complimenting her on her weight. She writes:
Recently, I have heard a lot of: “Beanie, you look amazing. You’re half your size!” “Bean, you’re tiny! No seriously, you are tiny!” Friends, family… everyone is talking about it. Even my therapist chimed in: “I would never have known it was you! You’re disappearing!”
Now as I write this, I am trying not to get vegan chocolate chip cookie crumbs on the page, so it is safe to say that I did not see this coming. Also, I will say it is not a drastic change, maybe one or two dress sizes. Most importantly, losing weight is not something I was even trying to do.
She goes on to talk about her struggle with body image throughout her adolescence, saying she was pushed into trying diets like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, and how she deeply resented it. “Just thinking about shopping for my bat mitzvah dress still gives me hives,” she writes. (Hear that, girl.)
It was only after studying sociology in college at Wesleyan University did she realize that society’s pressures of achieving the “ideal body” was the only reason she was made to feel so upset about her own, explaining:
I realized that once I stopped trying to get closer to what our society deems ideal, I felt free. I was so far from the norm that I felt no pressure to get anywhere close to it. Honestly, my body image was something I barely ever thought about. My friends, all of whom are thin, would really feel plagued that their bodies didn’t fit the unattainable ideal our society has crafted, and I would sit back, genuinely comfortable with my unwavering chubbiness.
She felt totally comfortable in her own skin — a rare feat to accomplish — until people started piping in about how much weight she’s lost since dancing her “tooshie off” eight times a week on Broadway. Suddenly, her body was the center of attention again, and even though these were “positive” comments, the effect was just the same:
The act of getting smaller is considered an achievement, and therefore they feel subliminal permission to comment on it. But here’s the issue: when everyone started telling me I looked smaller, I lost my beautiful mindset that took decades to find.
She ends the essay with one simple request, something we can all keep in mind whenever we feel that urge to comment on someone’s weight: don’t. Not even if it’s a compliment. Not even if it’s well-intentioned. A person’s body never needs to be the topic of conversation, especially when we have so many other things to talk about, like velour Hanukkah overalls and how good Lady Bird was. (Did I mention that already? Oops.)
Much love to you, Beanie.
Image via A24