Originally Posted August 4th, 2014; Updated June 26th, 2015
Chris Pratt is Hollywood’s latest TV funny man-turned viable Hollywood leading man; everybody seems to want a piece of the Pratt. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy may have been last summers most surprising smash hit, raking in an estimated 94 million in its opening weekend (and breaking August box office records), and this summer’s Jurassic World shattered box office records in it’s first two weeks.
But he wasn’t always in the spotlight. His rippling abs have gotten him a lot of attention over the last two years.
In the last 11 years, Pratt went from playing a football playing teen heart-throb on Everwood to a lovable tree-hugger on cult classic The O.C., to the lovable goofball (and slightly rounder) Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation; now he’s successfully made the transition from TV comedian to viable leading man with his turns in Zero Dark Thirty and now Peter Quill aka Star-Lord in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (not to mention he’ll be starring in next years much-anticipated Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series.) In a recent article on MoviePilot, editor-in-chief Alisha Grauso reported that, in a press conference for Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt discussed his issues with body image:
I’m sure I can’t relate to what females go through in Hollywood. I’m sure I can’t. But, I do know what it feels like to eat emotionally, and…to be be sad and make yourself happy with food. And then to be almost immediately sad again and now ashamed and then to try to hide those feelings with more food. I know what that’s like. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s a very real thing.
The beginning of his response was cautious and politically correct, a move that just highlights the reverse double standards in Hollywood that women simply have it harder than men when it comes to body image standards, and to say anything contradictory would be incorrect and almost blasphemous. It doesn’t help that ‘male celebrities suffering from body image issues’ is rarely headlined on major entertainment magazines like People or trash rags like The National Enquirer, unlike female celebrities whose weight fluctuations are documented with excruciating detail. This just fuels the belief that men can “get away” with being heavier and not suffer the same scrutiny as women. The difference for men is that, instead of publicizing weight gains and losses like women, mainstream media just focuses on male objectification.
Don’t believe me? Just go to BuzzFeed, one of the largest viral media websites, for example, and type in something like “hot men” into the search bar and see what pops up. Here’s a sample:
Now, do the same for women. Type in “hot women” or “hot girls,” and you’ll find very few articles that objectify women the same way that BuzzFeed objectifies men daily. One of the above search results was a piece praising Chris Pratt and his post-Guardians Men’s Fitness spread. Would this same type of article existed if Pratt hadn’t A) obtained the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy and subsequently lost weight/got jacked, or B) lost muscle definition and put back on every pound he lost after the movie wrapped? Where were these types of articles before this:
When Pratt looked like this:
Through Hollywood and the Media Machine, men are constantly told that being ripped is much more valued than being “doughy.” It’s not true that men don’t have to compete to be considered viable, masculine “men.” In fact, straight men are constantly pitted against each other by other men (ever compare yourself to someone nearby working out, or see two guys comparing biceps/triceps/pecs/quads/etc.) and by women, who measure masculinity by the superficial qualities dictated by the media (muscle-size, bank account-size, penis-size.) Gay men are worse when it comes body image standards. Pre-Guardians Chris Pratt wouldn’t have made a ripple in the gay pool, but now he’s considered one more in a
long short list of Perfect Men by many.
The problem with this is that while men are being objectified now more than ever before, nobody is taking the time to see the long and short-term effects of this objectification. Men used to learn what it meant to be a man from father-figures (you know — “men don’t cry,” “men are the breadwinners,” “men are stronger than women,” “men defend and protect ________ [fill in the blank with appropriate noun],” “Real Men are virile, macho, and masculine”), but now men are more sexualized in the media than ever, adding one more quality to a long list of what it means to be a MAN. The media perpetuates these ideals and beliefs by glorifying men’s bodies, setting examples of what real men are/look like.
Where are the headlines that talk about Chris Pratt’s eating disorder? Now, he never expressly stated that he had an eating disorder, but he did say, “I do know what it feels like to eat emotionally, and…to be be sad and make yourself happy with food. And then to be almost immediately sad again and now ashamed and then to try to hide those feelings with more food. I know what that’s like. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s a very real thing.” A careful observer could call Pratt’s cyclical behavior and relationship with food Binge Eating Disorder. According to HelpGuide.org:
Binge eating disorder is characterized bycompulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop […] People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They desperately want to stop binge eating, but feel like they can’t.
Many men suffer from similar disorders, whether it’s eating-related or body dysmorphia, and unlike women, men don’t have many resources to help them combat. Most, if not all, media coverage of major eating and body-related disorders focus on women
Why isn’t Pratt’s struggle with body image issues and overeating getting major headlines? He spoke candidly and honestly about his troubles with food and his weight fluctuations (he lost 60 lbs for Guardians of the Galaxy, and a few years early was 50 lighters for Zero Dark Thirty.) Most of the headlines focus on how good he looks, instead of the troubles he faced. If he were a woman, he’d be on O Magazine, have an in-depth interview with “retired” Barbara Walters, and be featured on every magazine rack as a hero for all women for speaking candidly.
Instead, the media scope is more focused on headlines like, “How to Get Ripped Like Christ Pratt” or “How Star-Lord Lost Weight,” rather than taking the time to have a real meaningful discussion on male body dysmorphia, and the use of the word “fat,” that could have major impacts on combatting male objectification and shedding light on the very real disorders that men suffer from because of the media. For example, here is Pratt on Letterman poking fun at his weight loss:
Pratt is, by nature, a comedian, so watching him on Letterman feels natural; he oozes confidence and charisma and his sense of humor is effortless. It’s refreshing to see someone take this route when discussing weight loss, however it’s also a missed opportunity to shed light on what the media often ignores where male celebrities are concerned. One comment (from a male reader) on the original MoviePilot article about Pratt echoes this:
I totally understand where he’s coming from and have battled my eating disorder quite a few times. It is a never-ending battle to fill that void when your either eating away or just trying to feel better about yourself. I give Chris Pratt even more kudos for even telling us the fans and the world about this. Still can’t wait to see this film no matter what!
These are the men we must reach. They are out there. They are waiting to be heard. It’s time to give this the attention that it deserves!
Pratt is set to be in the next incarnation of Indiana Jones. Pratt himself is quoted in the July 2015 Men’s Health as saying that, “Everyone should know when the movie star stuff is over, I might go back to being the fat guy.” This in and of itself is saying a lot about Hollywood’s body image standards when it comes to it’s leading men; it’s as if there was something wrong with the Andy Dwyer’s of the world, and only the Starlords have a place in our hearts.
Bravo to Chris Pratt for speaking so honestly about his struggles. He’s not only a ‘hero’ in Hollywood, he’s become a voice for the largely unspoken attitudes toward male body image ideals. He worked hard to combat his struggles, and unlike a Zac Efron, he’s a role model for many men who continue to struggle with their weight. If more men do the same, maybe we can change this recent troubling trend of male objectification and focus instead on how to combat body image issues.
What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below!