The Jessica Simpson Epidemic

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After years of slipping through the media cracks, Jessica Simpson is more famous now than ever. And why? The girl <gasp!> gained weight. I mean, think about it: what has J. Simps really been doing with herself, career-wise? Not a whole lot. Instead, the poor girl has been a victim of heartbreak, failed endeavors, and more media scrutiny than any person deserves.

It all started with paparazzi, a pair of high waisted jeans, and an unflattering camera angle. Suddenly Jessica Simpson went from mostly forgotten pop-turned reality star to tabloid cover material. Everyone was quick to criticize the star for “getting fat.” But what kind of society would condemn a size-six beauty, when the average size for an American woman is a fourteen?

I personally find it appalling that amidst all the negative press Jessica has been receiving, not one major media source has taken the time to defend her. Jessica has been through a lot in the past few years. It can’t be easy to get dumped on your birthday, or to lose your beloved canine to an angry coyote, and when we’re facing these traumatic, life-changing events, a lot of us take comfort in food and gain a little weight. When you’re a celebrity, however, this just isn’t an option.

Jessica has gone on the record numerous times to attempt to defend herself, only to cause more media backlash. Take the time she claimed that she’s gained a mere ten pounds, which is truly believable considering she’s a small girl at about 5’3” – I’m only a few inches shorter and know that ten pounds can resemble thirty on a little frame. It wasn’t long before one of the most biting comments surfaced: “Yeah, I can believe that Jessica gained only ten pounds…wait, we’re just talking about her neck, right?”

We’ve made amazing strides in the beauty industry – for the first time, there are products out there that aren’t just for the fair-skinned, and unconventional beauty is actually celebrated. But the one thing that refuses to budge is this all-consuming American obsession with weight: for all the time people have spent slamming her “curvier frame”, why can’t someone remember to comment on Jessica’s gorgeous face, fabulous hair, powerhouse voice or business savvy?

Luckily, Jessica has taken the high road. Instead of succumbing to the pressure, and taking the usual route – losing all the weight (and then some), flaunting her new ‘bikini bod” on the cover of every magazine, and divulging diet tricks within the pages – Jessica has remained one hundred percent true to her beliefs. She’s become an ambassador of sorts, a woman who has become so committed to defining the true meaning of beauty that she started a whole movement to promote positive body image. The Price Of Beauty was one of the most underrated shows in a long time, and I think it really held the power to change peoples’ perceptions.

It really upsets me that Jessica has been such a victim. Yeah, she looks different than she did when she first appeared on the scene, but who hasn’t packed on a few since the tender age of eighteen? The fact that her weight gain is given more attention than most natural disasters shows a deeply sexist component to American media – after all, how many covers did Matthew Perry’s weight gain make? When it comes to celebs like Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, and our girl Jess – all super-talented people who deserve to be entertainers regardless of their size – we can’t seem to escape harsh news stories about their “unhealthy” weight gain.

To all the girls out there reading this: if you’d feel healthier and sexier if you dropped or gained a pant size, then by all means, go for it. I’ll still think you’re beautiful either way, but the only thing that really matters is how you feel about yourself. Pull a Jessica Simpson by making yourself happy, even when everyone around you seems to be conspiring to ruin your life. In the words of J. Simps: “I don’t get the whole rail thing. It’s not good for your heart, it’s not good for your mind, it’s emotionally destructive, it really is.”

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