Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 06/30/2011

Jordin Sparks: 30 Lbs Down

Jordin Sparks before

Jordin Sparks "before"

Every week, my Grandma brings over her copy of People magazine for my Mom and I to peruse. It’s a guilty pleasure that I actively try to avoid, but every once in a while I’ll flip through the rag just to see what’s happening with my fave celebs (but then I remember that Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Ellen Page are hardly ever featured in such magazines and put the magazine down). But this week happened to be one of the weeks where I succumbed. Hey, it’s Summer, and flipping through a crappy magazine that doesn’t require much thought or effort on my part sounded nice.

It wasn’t even a prominent article. It was a tiny box on the cover of past American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. The article itself was five measly paragraphs. It was entitled “Most Amazing Bodies: ‘How I Lost 30 Lbs!’” And yet, despite the fact that it was clearly meant to be semi-amusing filler, after I read it, I felt utterly depressed.

I’ve never really followed Jordin Sparks. I don’t watch American Idol and tend to listen to music on the Regina Spektor / Florence and the Machine spectrum anyway. But when Jordin Sparks was first in the media, I recall thinking, “It’s so nice to see a woman who isn’t a stick given attention, especially since most of that attention is focusing on her actual talent rather than the way she looks.” And I thought she did look amazing. She’s a beautiful girl, of course, but I thought her body was beautiful, too. It also seemed like she had always been proud of the way she looked. And now here she is, being praised for losing thirty pounds, and being quoted as saying, “Now I feel sexier” and “I was determined” and “I’m in a good place now.”

Jordin Sparks after

Jordin Sparks "after"

This shouldn’t be surprising or shocking. This happens all the time. Women – celebrities or not – are always praised for losing weight, whether they “needed” to lose weight or not. But there was something about this particular incident that jarred me.

This incident indicated to me that even if our society is able to get to a place where celebrities of a bigger size are visible, if they’re able to have careers and are supported by the public, we STILL seem to hope that they will eventually lose weight, or that the whole time they’ve been in our consciousness, they’ve been at least trying to lose weight. The concept of a bigger celebrity who is actually, thoroughly happy with her size seems to be a goal still far off.

I’m not criticizing Jordin Sparks for losing weight. That’s her choice, and if it makes her happy, then fine. It just really bums me out that the idea of a celebrity – or anybody, really – who is bigger than what our society deems acceptable can be truly happy with her size seems to be one that our society as a whole has yet to grasp as a possibility, let alone reality.

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  • alli @ at 12:15 pm, June 30th, 2011

    i totally agree! i get sick of hearing how celebrities who were a size 8 or 10, which i perfectly healthy by the way especially if you are 5’6 or taller, get down to a size 2. to me its like saying that if you are a size 8 or higher your obese and you are only healthy if you are a size 2 which is insane! body types are different, some women are healthy at a size 2, others its more a size 10. i’m not saying people should be unhealthy or a unhealthy size but i think we need to stop celebrating when women loose x amount of pounds! i’ve lost 120 pounds, i still have another 120 to go(i use to be 380). if somebody who lost that amount was on people then by all means i could understand that because they were ACTUALLY obese and very unhealthy. put when you show women who lost 10 POUNDS IN A WEEK AND HOW THEY DID IT all it does is send a horrible message to women that you need to be a size 2 or 4 to be healthy, or to never ever be happy with their body!

  • Olivia Baxter @ at 1:22 pm, June 30th, 2011

    I had this exact same thing on my mind this morning! Like the author, I have an unfortunate People/Ok!/Star magazine addiction, and stumbled on an “article” about Adele today. The article claimed that some bigwig higher-up had demanded she lose weight. As with Sparks, Adele had always represented a beautifully-shaped, yet not thin, celebrity in my mind. Yet every single member of this already sparse category seem to be succumbing to the pressure to be thin. Body image and the media’s effects are much-discussed where I intern, at Teen Voices Magazine (www.teenvoices.com), and it is a subject that I’m highly sensitive too. It’s simply frustrating!

  • Ashley @ at 1:28 pm, June 30th, 2011

    I see your point. Personally I have no care as to what a larger celeb does. If she decides she loves being her size and doesn’t ever want to lose weight then that’s great. Like Adele, who is often reminding the world that she loves her body. I have no desire to ever see her lose weight if that’s what she doesn’t want to do. So to realize that anyone in society is actually doing that (hoping they lose weight) I see that as pretty crazy.

  • Alexa @ at 10:21 am, July 3rd, 2011

    I only watched American Idol one season, and it was the one with Jordin Sparks. I was pretty young when I watched it, but I thought even then that there was something cool about a young, talented woman who was famous and healthy-looking but not as thin as most young famous singers.

  • Mollie @ at 4:48 am, July 4th, 2011

    Hello, I think there are a lot more important things in the world to be concerned with than a woman’s weight, especially when she is pleased with herself. Some people may eat only bologna sandwiches and sit in a cell for decades because they are wrongfully incarcerated. Some may eat nothing at all and are bound in one place because they are falsely imprisoned. This happens every day in our very own country and frankly I am only glad Sparks is one less victim and has the opportunities she does. If you are angry at someone because you want more people to look a certain way, are you really happy with yourself or do you simply need more people of your own weight to feel okay. With every shape and size it is the same. Be happy for her if she is happy with herself. Larger women do get belittlement and pressure but so do smaller women. Be what makes you happy, and remove yourself from this judgment.

  • Juliana @ at 10:27 pm, July 5th, 2011

    I think that it’s also important within this discussion to acknowledge the role that race plays within the pressure for women (particularly black women) to be thin. This same thing happened with Jennifer Hudson, who was originally lauded for being big, and then chose to lose weight become the poster girl for Jenny Craig. Competing in Hollywood means competing with white standards of beauty.

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