Tag Archives: diet

Actors and their bodies

I’ve never been a consumer of celebrity mags, but it’s sometimes hard to ignore those headlines about who’s showing cellulite, got a bit thin/podgy etc.  It was none of my business and I just wasn’t interested anyway.

However, after I’d edited a number of actors’ CVs, I had a revelation about the role of an actor’s body  in their profession. An actor’s body is his or her tool of the trade. It is what they make their living from. An accurate and almost clinical description of their dimensions and appearance is an essential element of their “skillset”, as much as their acting abilities.

I found this unsentimental and functional relationship with one’s body completely liberating. If it needs to be thinner, just do what it takes to make it thinner. Or fatter. Or stronger. No whingeing. No resistance. No argument.

Acting is whole-of-body, physical work (working in radio maybe not so much). An actor is never separate from their body. So when they are acting, their whole body is part of that work.

The celebrity mags assume the on-screen body is as “real” as the off-screen body and judge accordingly. But this isn’t so. Actors can be as flabby/hairy/cellulitey etc as they like in real life; there is no obligation to be “perfect”.

Another myth arises from this use of the actor’s body as a work tool: the celebrity diet. Actors may diet (for gain or loss) for a role, usually quickly and often do so in ways that are not advisable for the population as a whole. These diets are not meant to be sustainable. They may result in quick loss but only for the duration of the shoot or performance schedule. To promote celebrity diets for the general population is duplicitous if not outright fraudulent.

It seems clear that some actors have bought into the celebrity hype, and lose the ability to distinguish between work and self-promotion. Sad.

For the rest of us, I think our relationship with our bodies should be far more pragmatic, and less sentimental and self-indulgent. Our body is our only and indispensable vehicle. It has to function well in every way for what seems to us to be forever.

And finally; a wish more than advice I’d expect anyone to take: don’t bother with celebrities. Ignore them and they really will go away and back to doing what they do best – their work.

PS: now I’m thinking about how this works for  professional sports folk. There are similarities and differences. Pain is likely to be more of a factor in sports. And how much acting is involved in sport?