Emma Thompson has spoken out against impossible beauty standards for women since the beginning of her career. When she started out as a young comedian, she often joked about topics that were taboo at the time, like sex and the expectations placed on women to be thin. Now, two decades later, the actor is still addressing Hollywood's obsession with thinness. In a recent interview with the Swedish talk show Skavlan, Thompson told an industry story in which she claims a producer tried to tell an actor on a film she was working on that she needed to be thinner. Thompson says she threatened to quit the production entirely after her co-star was allegedly asked to lose weight, showing just how committed she is to ending Hollywood’s image problem.
While the Skavlan interview covered a range of subjects, one of the show's hosts brought up the pressure to be thin in Hollywood toward the end of the segment. Thompson sighed and revealed that the impossible beauty standards in the film industry haven't improved since she was young. “There was a wonderful actress in a film I did called Brideshead Revisited,” Thompson told the hosts. “The producer said to her, ‘Will you lose some weight?’ And she was absolutely exquisite! I said to them, ’If you speak to her about this again, on any level, I will leave this picture. You are never to do that.”
The alleged incident Thompson described happened over a decade ago, but not much has changed in Hollywood since. Thompson made it clear that a story like this isn't unusual, and that it symbolizes a greater problem with the industry. "It’s evil what’s happening and what’s going on there, and it’s getting worse," she told the interviewers, before continuing, "Sometimes there are just some subjects that you absolutely have to make noise about because it’s so tedious and it’s gone on and on."
In the past, reporters have asked Thompson about her weight, as well. While this is infuriating, she has an answer ready to go: "Sorry, do you want me to be an actress or a model?” (Although, Thompson notes in the interview the issues with standards in the fashion industry, too.)
Thompson has also been known to take younger actors under her wing and warn them against the pressures of Hollywood. The actor once famously told her Sense and Sensibility co-star Kate Winslet that if she lost weight, she would stop speaking to her. This was a joke, of course, meant to emphasize that she shouldn't feel she needs to succumb to pressure, and in the time since, Winslet has often spoken out about body confidence, as well.
It's a shame that over the course of Thompson's career Hollywood's attitudes toward women and the policing of their appearance has not changed. The industry needs women like Thompson to resist the pressure from anyone in the industry who tells them they have to look a certain way. All body types should be welcome in entertainment, and Thompson's zero-tolerance policy for body shaming is certain to help.