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Anne Hathaway and her “mom’s night out” shouldn’t be making headlines in 2020

Anne Hathaway is an award-winning actor – and she deserves more respect.

Anne Hathaway might have two movies slated for release in 2020 – The Last Thing He Wanted and The Witches, respectively – but it’s her foray into television that’s making headlines at the moment. After all, the critically-acclaimed actor has been nominated several times over for her performance in Amazon Original series Modern Love.

Or rather, it should be Hathaway’s foray into television that’s making headlines at the moment. Instead, gossip rags and tabloids have decided to ignore her career entirely, focusing instead upon the fact that she’s… well, that she’s spawned children. Go figure. 

Walking the red carpet at this weekend’s Critics’ Choice Awards, Hathaway dressed for the occasion in a glittering gold sequined gown with exaggerated sleeves by Atelier Versace. And, while she missed out on the Best Actress gong (Michelle Williams took the award for Fosse/Verdon), it was understandably still a big night for Hathaway, who presented the Best Actor gong to Joker star Joaquin Phoenix – particularly as this marks the start of awards season.

No wonder, then, she decided to celebrate her first red carpet event of 2020 on Instagram.

“Welcome back,” she wrote on Instagram, alongside an image of herself reflected in the elevator’s mirror.

“HEY NOW,” commented one fan. “Yes girl, yes!” added another. And, of course, there were countless comments praising Hathaway as a “queen”, a “goddess” and an “icon”.

Tabloids, however, decided to take a different approach to the photograph.

“Anne Hathaway makes a glamorous return to the red carpet at the Critics’ Choice Awards in plunging gold dress weeks after welcoming second child,” wrote one.

“Anne Hathaway debuts post-baby body at Critics’ Choice Awards after secretly giving birth,” another declared, inviting readers everywhere to cast judgement on Hathaway’s body.

Perhaps the least palatable headline of all, though? One tabloid opted for the phrase “Mom’s night out”, which they shared above a smiling photo of Hathaway on the red carpet. Naturally, the attached article included several veiled (and some not-so-veiled) comments about how the actor had been “showing off” her “post-baby bump” on the red carpet.

The year is 2020, and a professional actor still can’t attend an industry event without having every single inch of her body analysed by strangers using the ‘zoom’ function on their computers at home. How can this be?

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I’ve no doubt that Stylist’s readers will be far more interested to learn that, in Modern Love, Hathaway gives a career-defining performance as Lexi, a bipolar woman who struggles with dating.

“Every single person I’ve talked to has said that they know someone with bipolar disorder,” the actor told Variety of the role. “We’re not talking about it not because of a place of shame, but because we don’t know how to start… [but] this episode is going to mean so much because it offers some form of representation.”

Exactly. So why aren’t we talking about that? Why are we still zooming in on an actor’s stomach and spinning those photos into a story instead?

Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman attend the 2020 Critics' Choice Awards together.

If you google the phrase ‘post-baby body’, you’ll be met with a slew of deeply unsatisfying articles. Some praise women for “bouncing back” to their pre-pregnancy figures, some compliment women for “ignoring the pressure” to lose their pregnancy weight (while going out of their way to point out their excess pounds), and others – usually tabloids – will share long-lens photos of celebrities in bikinis.

All, however, achieve the same effect: they invite readers to critique women’s bodies from afar. They hammer home this ridiculous idea that a woman’s sole purpose in life is to breed (before removing any evidence of aforementioned breeding, of course). And they reduce women in the public eye to the sum of their body parts and ovaries, stripping them away of all their achievements and other fascinating qualities in the process.

It’s a tired phenomenon which Hathaway herself has commented on. Taking to Instagram in 2016, in the months after the birth of her son, the actor posted a photo of her jeans that she altered into jean shorts that fit her body as it is now.

“There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever),” she wrote. “There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer’s are just too dang short for this summer’s thighs.”

She added: “Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink. It’s all love.”

It’s worth noting that Hathaway’s husband, Adam Shulman, accompanied her to Critics’ Choice Awards. That, naturally, he was not subjected to the same treatment his wife was. No tabloids zoomed in on his face for dark eye circles and other tell-tale signs of a newborn baby in the house, that nobody felt the need to compare and contrast his post-baby self with previous photos. Not a soul commented on the fact he was on a “dad’s night out”, either: parenthood remains – in Hollywood, at least – entirely a women’s issue.

Likewise, the issue of women remains – in Hollywood, again – entirely focused on parenthood.

Jennifer Aniston – who, much like Hathway, is a successful and empowered woman in the public eye – knows all too well how frustrating it can be to see oneself subjected to “baby bump” reports.

“[These reports give us a] dehumanising view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance… Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go?” she stated previously.

“I resent being made to feel ‘less than’ because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: ‘pregnant’ or ‘fat.’

“We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies.”

With this in mind, Aniston has since called upon women everywhere to stop buying tabloid magazines.

“All of us, need to take responsibility on what we ingest into our brains,” she said, during a televised interview with Ellen DeGeneres.

“We as women do a lot of incredible things in this world other than just procreate. We have to stop listening to them, we have to stop buying them because we have to support each other, especially at this time. We need to love each other, to support, and to be proud of women whatever your choice is in life. It’s up to us what makes us happy and fulfilled.”

Amen to that.

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