Women still face undue pressure to be thin, in Hollywood and beyond. Which is why Keeley Hawes’ response to an article about dieting on Twitter is both refreshing and urgently needed…
She’s a self-professed feminist who delights in tackling meaty, cliché-busting roles.
So, it’s reassuring to see that actor Keeley Hawes holds no truck with fake news, especially when it plays in to the kind of unrealistic body ideals that many women are actively working to reject.
Taking to Twitter this morning, Hawes called out a newspaper claim that she had lost a stone for her role in BBC drama The Bodyguard, using what a source called “the alkaline diet”.
“Um, no, I didn’t,” Hawes tweeted, linking to the article in question and adding, “What the f*** is an alkaline diet?”
Unfounded gossip is something that goes hand-in-hand with the job for many high-profile actors, and most choose simply to ignore it.
But it’s cheering to see Hawes take a stand on the issue of diets; a topic so often used to make women bad about themselves, famous or no.
Naturally, those on Twitter delighted in her comeback and were quick to applaud it, as her response was shared over a thousand times in the space of just one hour.
I was literally talking about this with my mum about how the press are obsessed with women’s body images. I’m not interested in that, I’m interested in the fact that you’re a bloody brilliant actress. Honestly they need to stop.— Libs (@LibbyODowd) September 2, 2018
Calling it out, this is why you are one of my faves, not just a brilliant actor but an even better woman and human— Cath Hedley-Carrington (@CathHedley) September 2, 2018
It’s so so awful that the press make it up 😩😩. It’s disgusting. I hate how women body confidence is hyped up by the press 😭😭😭💔💔— Princess Alice Rinderette 😘😘😘😘😊😊 (@WoodhouseAlice) September 2, 2018
Brilliant!! Thank you for that. Made my afternoon that tweet.— Roberto Rastapopoulos (@R_Rastapopolpus) September 2, 2018
In an age where many female actors still face huge pressure to lose weight and conform to ridiculous body ideals, Hawes’ reaction is exactly on-point.
Last year, Emma Thompson revealed that she almost quit a film after overhearing one of her fellow actors being asked to lose weight.
“Actresses who are into their 30s simply don’t eat,” she said. “There was a wonderful actress I was working with on Brideshead Revisited, and the producers said, ‘Will you lose some weight?’
“And I said to them, ‘If you speak to her about this again on any level, I will leave this picture. You are never to do that.’ It’s evil what’s going on out there and it’s getting worse.”
Naturally, this obsession with body image has a trickle-down effect, too.
A 2016 survey from the Children’s Society reported that 34% of girls aged 10 to 15 are unhappy with their appearance in the UK, with many youngsters describing themselves as ugly or worthless.
Another study across 14 countries found that teenage girls with low body esteem struggle to be assertive and will often skip meals or avoid seeing friends and family.
For an actor of Hawes’ profile to make a statement over body image on social media - however fleeting - is critical in combating this tidal wave of unsaid pressure.
Hawes, who admits there are still lots of “window-dressing roles” for women on TV, has previously spoken of her frustration over how surprised people are when she takes on a gritty, substantial part such as that of DCI Lindsay Denton in Line of Duty.
“It does make you slightly want to scream when you do [a role] like that,” she told Stella magazine in 2015. “People say, ‘Oh, that’s amazing. Oh, women can do that?’ Like it’s some great surprise. Because why couldn’t we? It is frustrating.”