This week in CeleBeauties, I planned to talk about one of my all-time favorite celebs, Rebel Wilson. Known for her roles in the Pitch Perfect series and Bridesmaids, Rebel Wilson has crushed haters by redefining what it means to be beautiful. As a full-figured lady, she’s gotten lots of grief for her size and has admirably addressed these wrongful messages. Though my blog was just going to be about how awesome she is in spreading positive messages about beauty and body-image, a news story caught fire that I couldn’t help but address. This week, Rebel revealed that she was asked to present at the VMAs with Kendall and Kylie Jenner, to which she refused. Rebel stated:
“They’re famous for no talent. I said I’d do it myself. What they stand for is totally against what I stand for.”
Rebel Wilson has gotten a lot of slack this week for her statement and has been dominating news headlines. Of course, there are certainly many aspects of the Jenners’ lives that Rebel does not agree with, but their views towards and perpetuations of beauty standards is unquestionably one of the most prominent disagreements. Having dealt with an absurd amount of criticism for her body type and size, Rebel tries to send messages about body-positivity to girls everywhere. Her main message is that every woman and girl is beautiful. That’s something that just makes me so happy to see in the headlines and in news sources—these are the messages we need to be spreading. A difficult part of the celebrity world, however, is that for every amazing, inspiring Rebel Wilson, there is a destructive, unrealistic Jenner.
In a separate interview, Rebel discussed the issue of women who are painted as role models. She spoke about Victoria’s Secret models, stating that:
“Even though they are called ‘models,’ they’re not the best people to model yourself after.”
Once again, Rebel points out the flaws in our celebrity-centered society. Sure, she is a celeb as well, but she got there because of hard work and talent and plans to utilize her fame to bring joy and positive messages to all people. Looking at Rebel’s ideals as opposed to those of the Kardashians and Jenners really brings to light beauty issues in Hollywood. We constantly absorb images of beauty and are trained to look up to celebrities. Why? Because those who are not famous for talent are famous, unfortunately, for looks. Our Hollywood perpetuates images of beauty ideals by constantly bringing to fame people based on how much they conform to beauty standards in America. Women like Rebel Wilson gain their claim to fame by being good at what they do, not by just being pretty. Rebel also recognizes her responsibility to put to rest body-shaming because of her celeb-status.
In reviewing this feud, I’m drawn to bell hooks’ chapter on “Sisterhood” in her text Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Though some of it may seem as though Rebel and the Jenners are setting a bad example by fighting rather than building each other up, I would say that misses the point. Hooks’ view is that women do need to work together, but they simply cannot achieve solidarity until privileged women recognize and understand their privilege. In this case, I feel like Rebel–who is of course financially well-off–comes from a place of longing for solidarity. She understands that the Jenners have been given everything and wants them to recognize their privilege in order to reach solidarity with other women. Once that happens, they can move forward and truly combat beauty norms and standards.
Sure, Hollywood is going to keep on making beautiful, talentless people famous for our consumption. We need to keep educating people so that we can have more Rebel Wilsons—people who are willing to counteract the bad messages to reinforce the good. Rebel Wilson slayed the VMAs and beauty ideals by bashing the Jenners and I think she is all the more amazing and admirable because of her ability to stand up for what she knows is right.
Hooks, B. (2015). Feminist theory: From margin to center. New York, NY: Routledge.