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When will her acting success be enough to stop us talking about Kate Winslet's body?

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Kate Winslet’s body draws more chatter than her acting.

A 2012 article in the Daily Mail opens with the line: “Kate Winslet famously struggled with her weight during the early years of fame.”

Well, can you damn well blame her?

Winslet became a household name following her lead role in Titanic (1997) opposite Leonardo DiCaprio; a role which earned the then 19-year-old actress her second Oscar nomination. But despite her incredible early achievements on screen and stage, the fact Winslet possesses a slightly larger (still size eight-ten) frame than her acting peers, continued to dominate any press coverage about her.

Kate Winslet in Titanic.
Kate Winslet, 19, in Titanic.

Reflecting back on those early days of Hollywood fame, Winslet told Vanity Fair, “When I was twenty I pretended it didn’t bother me, but I felt very bad, I did. In front of journalists and the public I acted superior, but I was dying inside.”

Fast forward almost two decades and you’d think Hollywood might have adjusted to having Kate Winslet and her shockingly different body around. After all, she’s starred in countless blockbuster and art house films, borne three children, collected an Oscar, an Emmy, three Golden Globes and three SAG Awards along the way.

But no.

Hollywood and the tabloids continue to focus on what they think is the most interesting thing about this formidable woman: Her size.

Appearing on the cover of UK’s Harper’s Bazaar this month, Winslet was asked (amongst other things): “Are you dieting?” “What do you think of botox?” “How do you feel about your body?”

Ugh. Stop it. Just, stop it.

Winslet didn’t bitch and moan, she simply replied with the dignity and class of a woman who has been asked these questions so many times they have become as perfunctory as ‘how are you’?

kate-winslet-2-435
Kate Winslet, on the cover of this month’s UK Harper’s Bazaar.
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On botox, she exclaimed: “Oh fuck no!”

On the question of dieting, she responded: “Have I actively been on a diet to lose my baby weight? No, I haven’t. I genuinely bloody haven’t. I so didn’t want to be one of those, ‘Oh, wow, she’s back in shape after 12 weeks’ women. When I read things like that I just think, oh, for f**k’s sake, that’s actually impossible.”

And on how she feels about her body: “There’s a big part of me — now, more than ever before — that feels a sense of responsibility for how other women view themselves”.

Well, praise the Gods of the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the angel that is Kate Winslet.

Kate Winslet, photographed without makeup or retouching.

She just took a primarily insulting interview and absolutely turned it on its head; proving that she will use the continued focus on her body from the press to further her own ambitions.

And those ambitions are for women’s bodies to be portrayed realistically, honestly and diversely on-screen. That the women we see at the movies and the roles they play are reflective of the faces and bodies we would see walking down the main streets of our capital cities.

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It’s a cause the actress has spoken about before. In an interview back in 2012, Winslet said of being asked constantly about body image: “Better say that I’m bored of what it means that we are still here talking about it: it means that nothing has changed. Otherwise, no, I believe it is important to go on insisting that normality is not what we are exposed to”.

So what does insisting that what we are exposed to on-screen is not normality, look like?

It means continuing to call out the lack of roles for women aged over 35.

It means speaking frankly about plastic surgery for those who choose that path.

It means embracing ageing and fuller body types.

And of course, it means pushing back when the advertising, fashion and magazine industries continue to warp, cut, trim, stretch and crop female bodies beyond recognition. Just like GQ did to Winslet in 2012.

After the actress appeared on the cover of the magazine (see below), she was widely criticised for having allowed the image to be photoshopped so that her legs appeared longer and leaner than they are.

kate winslet GQ
Photoshop alert: Kate Winslet on the cover of GQ.

Editor, Dylan Jones, did admit the photos had been altered but also claimed that it wasn’t by much – after all, he insisted, Kate had lost a lot of weight prior to the shoot.

“These pictures are not a million miles away from what she really looks like,” he said at the time.

“Kate is currently thinner than I have ever seen her, petite and sexy.”

But Winslet wasn’t having women lied to. Not in her name.

“The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly I don’t desire to look like that,” she told the press.

“I actually have a Polaroid that the photographer gave me on the day of the shoot… I can tell you they’ve reduced the size of my legs by about a third. For my money it looks pretty good the way it was taken.”

Hallelujah.

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