Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence Share Horrific Hollywood Experiences
On Monday night, many of the most high-profile actresses gathered at the Elle’s Women in Hollywood event which, normally, is a very positive and fun night. This year, the tone was markedly difference in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against director, Harvey Weinstein.
Reese Witherspoon, for example, opened up about the fact that she was sexually assaulted as a teen but, sadly, it wouldn’t be the last time it happened to her. “This has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world, and a lot of situations and a lot of industries are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths,” the Oscar winner said. “I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier.”
In a moment of sheer bravery, she addressed the crowd and revealed, “[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment and I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”
What made her speak up? Hearing others share their experiences. She explained, “it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career. I have just spoken to so many actresses and writers, particularly women, who have had similar experiences and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories. That truth is very encouraging to me and everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth. I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal. For the young women in this room, life is going to be different because we’re with you, we have your back and it makes me feel better. It makes me so sad to talk about these issues, but I would be remiss not to.”
Jennifer Lawrence also took a moment to address the serious topic and shared her own story. “When I was much younger and starting out, I was told by producers of a film to lose 15 pounds in two weeks,” she said adding that she was told that another actress had already been fired for not losing the weight fast enough for the role. “During this time a female producer had me do a nude line-up with about five women who were much, much, thinner than me. We are stood side-by-side with only tape on covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating line-up, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.”
Wow! It didn’t end there, though. Lawrence actually spoke to a male producer attached to that project and said that the expectations were inappropriate. His response was not to consider what she was saying but, instead, to say that “he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat, he thought I was ‘perfectly f***able.’”
What do you even say to something like that? “Thanks?” Do you object? The sad part is that, regardless of the industry, women hear things like this all the time every day and most of us really struggle with knowing how to respond. Most of us can relate to Lawrence who said, “I let myself be treated a certain way because I felt I had to for my career. I’m still learning that I don’t have to smile when a man makes me uncomfortable. Every human being should have the power to be treated with respect because they’re human.”
While she was “deeply disturbed” to learn about Weinstein’s behavior, she explained that he was never inappropriate with her. Despite how painful this past week has been, the Oscar winner said that it feels like it’s been “oddly unifying.” We agree.