The Lady Bird star, 24, recently lost weight and found herself on the receiving end of remarks about her slimmer shape. But while the comments were well-intentioned, they started to diminish the body confidence she’d worked hard to develop after spending much of her life frustrated with her weight.
“My family, doctors, and society at large were constantly telling me that I was too heavy, that I needed to exercise more, that I should be smaller,” she writes in an essay for Refinery29. “I was pushed into trying Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig… and I absolutely hated it. It affected me deeply. I despised trying to lose weight and I resented everyone that made me feel like I had to.”
She was able to move past her body frustrations with a mental shift, and became “genuinely comfortable with my unwavering chubbiness.”
“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.”
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But after several intense months of dancing and performing in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway this year, Feldstein inadvertently lost weight — and people took notice.
“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!’ ” she says.
But instead of making her feel good, the comments shook her well-honed self-esteem.
“After years of pain, I had finally found such a beautiful peace, one that most people, no matter what size they are, don’t have. And all of those ‘compliments’ took that away from me,” Feldstein says. “After years of finally not feeling judged by myself or others, all of a sudden I felt so seen.”
“The act of getting smaller is considered an achievement, and therefore they feel subliminal permission to comment on it,” she says. “But here’s the issue: when everyone started telling me I looked smaller, I lost my beautiful mindset that took decades to find.”
“The only reason I am smaller is because I get the joy of dancing my tooshie off eight times a week. I am not thinner because I was trying to be, or because I felt the need to be. Just because my body changed, doesn’t mean I wanted it to.”
Feldstein wants people to stop commenting on her body or anyone else’s, and hopes that society will eventually change to accept all body types.
“I am determined to find my way back to the peace I used to feel and I could use your help,” she says. “If you want to be loving and supportive, stop talking to me about my body. Because honestly, it would just really help a girl out if you’d stop telling me I look skinnier!”