In Hollywood, drug addiction better than being fat

Kelly Osbourne talks about being shamed for her weight, not for heroin

Published February 25, 2010 5:04PM (EST)

It's no secret that Hollywood is not a fat-friendly town. Gain a couple inches or get caught at the wrong angle in a photo, and you'll find yourself on the wrong side of a "celebrity cellulite" article with some inoffensive jiggly bit circled in red. Every week, the cover of magazines announce in block lettering the discovery of another celebrity's dieting secrets, a new vitamin supplement or pilates regime or juice diet that finally put and end to their weight loss struggle. It all boils down to one pretty clear message: You want that acting job? You want flattering clothes that fit? You want to avoid being trash-talked by every gossip blog in town? Then get thin, quick.

So it's sad, but not shocking that in the latest edition of Us Weekly, Kelly Osbourne says that she got more attention for her weight than for her three stints in rehab. "I took more hell for being fat than I did for being an absolutely raging drug addict. I will never understand that," Osbourne said. Nor should she. But it prompts the question: Is it more socially acceptable to have a substance abuse problem than to be overweight?

Kevin Smith's much-publicized debacle with Southwest Airlines apparently earned him much more derision than sympathy. "They're really pathetic," Smith told the LA Times about the media reaction. "I was unfairly bounced and discriminated against … They just went with the easy fat jokes."

The media, it seems, is far more forgiving of a little heroin now and then than it is of a person with a couple extra pounds (and Osbourne, even at her heaviest, was far, far from unhealthy). While Hollywood doesn't outright condone drug use, it seems like common practice to look away when your star actress is doing rails of coke and then profess to be shocked, shocked when she ends up in rehab. The truth is that drug abuse and the public scrutiny of celebrities' bodies—which, thanks to her famous parents, began for Kelly Osbourne very young—are not unrelated. Go to rehab or even jail, and you might get your career back, or at least a reality show about it. But have a slice of pizza now and then, and you'll get nothing but wisecracks about your thighs and an invite for "Celebrity Fit Club." 

By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in New York City.

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