MIA: The very sad reason why Robin Wright is hungry.

This post contains spoilers up to the end of Season 2 of House of Cards.

Robin Wright isn’t skinny enough. So she’s going on a strict diet to drop kilos. It’s not that she particularly wants to but she’s about to start filming the new season of House of Cards so….. you know.

In an interview last week with People magazine, Wright noted that she had to wear Spanx “all the time” to “hold the bakery in” and acknowledged that this still wasn’t enough. “I’m trying to do the paleo diet.” she explained. “No carbs. I’ve got to get thin for the show.”

She’s got to get thin for the show.

Robin Wright is 48 and the character she plays on House of Cards (download it on iTunes, it’s amazing) is Claire Underwood — the female half of a  Machiavellian power couple who manipulate their way into the White House where her husband Frank eventually becomes President. Frank is played by Kevin Spacey who is in his early 50s and in one episode, Claire is shown experiencing symptoms of menopause. So it’s safe to assume Robin Wright’s character is about the same age or a bit older than she is. Maybe 50.

Now that you have the background, let me tell you how I felt when I read that quote about having to drop weight and “get thin for the show”.


Not in the same way I feel depressed when I read about Syrian refugees or when I think about the grieving daughters of Alison Baden-Clay.

Depressed might not even be the right word. Let’s call it disheartened. Bummed. Disappointed. Exasperated.

An almost unrecognisable Matthew Mccoughney.

And these are all the sentiments I brought into Mamamia’s morning news meeting today when I raised this topic as a possible post.

Not everyone felt the same way.

“But how is that different to, say, Matthew McConaughey losing weight for his movie role when he won an Oscar?” argued one of our writers. “Isn’t that just what actors have to do?”


No. No it’s not. Matthew McConaughey lost weight to play a man who was dying of AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club. His thinness was integral to the character and the story. Robin Wright’s character is not terminally ill. She is just a woman. And to play a woman on screen, you have to be thin. Because that’s the only shape actresses are allowed to be unless they are Rebel Wilson or Melissa McCarthy.

Even when you’re playing a woman who is 50. Even when, as an actress, you’re already thin. Much, much thinner than other women of any age.  It doesn’t matter what your character does, she must be thin first and foremost. Really thin.

Robin Wright is a magnificent actress. A thin actress. And yet to do her job, to remain employed and be ‘true’ to the fabulous character she’s playing, she must lose more weight. Even though she is playing a political spouse. Not a model. Not someone who is terminally ill.

Men on screen only need to look a certain way when their body is part of the plot, like Channing Tatum in Magic Mike or Tom Hanks in Castaway. Otherwise, they can look as diverse as the male members of the cast of Modern Family.

Women? The only female bodies we see on screen – those against which women are overtly and covertly measured – are still one size fits all.

And that size is XS.

No wonder Robin Wright  is hungry.

Other actors and actresses who have lost or gained weight for specific roles – not just because they needed to be skinny.

Do you think there is an unfair standard when it comes to women’s bodies and weight in Hollywood? Is it different to an actor or actress losing weight for a specific role?