Amanda Seyfried’s apology to Arielle Charnas teaches us a vital lesson about body-shaming

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Kayleigh Dray
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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Amanda Seyfried attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic)

Amanda Seyfried criticised the “semi influencer” for perpetuating unhealthy body myths. Now, though, the actor has extended an apology…

It began, as so many celebrity stories do nowadays, with an Instagram post.

Influencer Arielle Charnas took to social media to share a photo of herself in a bikini, and captioned it simply: “Proud of my body after having two kids.”

Many of her 1.2 million followers praised the post – but just as many balked at the “unrealistic” and “unhealthy” body image she was promoting to the world. One of these people included a friend of Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried, who encouraged Charnas to acknowledge that she’s “privileged and thin”.

“If you don’t acknowledge how your wealth made your workouts/body possible, you’re just perpetuating the patriarchal (totally unrealistic) notion that mother’s should ‘bounce back’ after childbirth,” commented Seyfried’s friend.

She continued to criticise Charnas for “glorifying an unhealthy body image […] in a society that already fetishises the adolescent female form” – and asked the influencer to use her platform for something better than sharing “images of emaciated women”. 

Seyfried, spotting the comment in her Instagram feed, decided to share it with her own followers.

“Fuck it, this is feed material,” she wrote. “My very smart friend […] wrote this on a semi-influencer’s feed and she blocked both of us,” the actor wrote.

“If we’re ready to get paid for flaunting our lifestyle (and inspiring some in the meantime) we have to be open to the discussions surrounding what we’re promoting.”

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Seyfried continued: “We have to back ourselves up, not run away from the issues it presents. There are grey areas everywhere. Each of us has a chance to back ourselves – especially on this platform.

“If you know who you are,” she added, noting that she had decided not to tag Charnas in her post, “[then] take a second to decide if what you’re throwing out there is worth it, in the big picture.”

While Seyfried had the best intentions, many on social media have since suggested that her commentary had left them feeling “bullied or thin-shamed”.

As such, she has penned an open apology to Charnas – and expressed regret for how she had “started this debate”.

“If you know me or are familiar with any of my beliefs or stances you’ll recognise that it isn’t in my character to tear down anyone for ‘being who they are,” she said.

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“I desperately wish it hadn’t targeted or blasted one person,” Seyfried said, noting that there are “MANY who engage in this questionable messaging”.

“No one needs to tear anyone apart,” the actor added. “And I regret that it’s present right now.

“To the lady in question, I’m sorry for the truly negative feels you’ve endured because of this.”

However, Seyfried stood firm by her belief that that Charnas – like anyone who makes a living out of Instagram – needs to “be aware of the message” they’re sending.

“The bigger, important message seems to filtering through and helping a lot of women feel supported,” she said. “And that’s the name of the game.”

It’s an important thing to consider when calling people out on social media – and perhaps it’s worth noting the advice of I Weigh founder Jameela Jamil.

The Good Place star has always said that she doesn’t judge those women who choose to diet. However, Jamil has also noted that “we are in an epidemic of self-hatred and women valuing their entire worth based on their weight” – and called upon influencers and celebrities to think about the language they use around their bodies.

“At the very least, call it [your weight-loss journey] getting stronger, getting faster or getting fitter,” she says. “Think about problematic wording. Don’t call it losing weight, [because] that implies taking up less space. That implies there is something wrong with your curves. Women who follow you may be the same size or bigger and you send an instant message to them that they need to change, whether you mean to or not. That’s how it works. That’s how you got to the point of caring about it enough that you need to post about it on social media.”

Jamil added: “We are all victims of this and we all need to be released from this nonsense. Fuck the scales.”

To those of her followers who have found themselves “triggered by these celebrities”, Jamil has offered some simple advice.

“Just unfollow them,” she said. “I did, and it changed my headspace immeasurably.”

Wise words indeed.

Image: Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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