Hollywood Actress Ann Mahoney Speaks Out on Body Shaming in New Podcast

Just hours before hitting the red carpet in Los Angeles for the premiere of her latest movie “Same Kind of Different as Me,”actress Ann Mahoney launched her first podcast called “Eye of the Beholder.” Mahoney is known for her recent roles in “The Walking Dead” and “Bad Moms.”

“Eye of the Beholder is a weekly podcast where I will try to get to the bottom of our body image issues. I will be talking to people of all ages, races cultures and genders and examining their perception of beauty. I struggle with the image: film and TV perpetuate as a ‘love interest’ or as ‘desirable.’ As an actress, I feel that if a woman who isn’t very slender is cast in a leading role, there must be fat jokes. She must be insecure; she is portrayed as someone who doesn’t exercise and eats too many unhealthy foods.  The reality is that women come in all shapes and sizes, and they are HEALTHY at a lot of different shapes and sizes.  In fact, there is a portion of that ‘ideal’ population in Hollywood doing dangerous things to keep thin. However, the media is the only issue.” Says Mahoney.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S will suffer from eating disorders in their lifetime. Body image issues are commonly associated with women, but figures show men admitted into hospitals for eating disorders has risen 70 percent between 2010 to 2016.

“My body image issues stemmed mainly from the ballet school I attended, starting at the age of four years old.  The instructors regularly shamed me for my legs being “too heavy” (they are solid muscle), or said I was fat – in front of the entire class.  They also complimented my talent as a dancer, calling me one of the most talented dancers in the class.  It was such an odd sensation at a young age to feel like my talent didn’t matter because my body was “wrong.”  I had two bouts with anorexia in my twenties, and I have grown to love myself these days, particularly after having children.  I love this body that has created people and shows the marks from that.  It’s beautiful.” Says Mahoney.

….the media and beauty industry feeds into her insecurity offering fixes to become perfect…

Eating disorders are gender neutral, but most people think that they are “women’s problems.” The stereotypical person with anorexia nervosa is a middle class, white, adolescent girl; which is far from reality because it affects all genders, ages, races and socioeconomic levels.

Mahoney adds, “As a mother, I worry about the messages we are sending our daughters about what is beautiful.  So I decided to open my mouth about the issue, and interview as many people as I could to see if we can get to the root of what we really believe is beautiful and why – and perhaps this can inform us – and make us love ourselves no matter where we are on our body-journey.”

So why do women struggle with body image and the hunt for perfection?

“As I have been interviewing a wide variety of women, and men, I certainly think the media and the beauty industry feeds into it.  But the issue starts at a much earlier age… most of the women I am interviewing have a moment between age 6 and 8 where they definitively remember being shamed for something about their physicality.  As that shamed little girl grows, the media and beauty industry feeds into her insecurity offering fixes to become perfect.  Perfect seems to be defined as eternally young, never disabled, skin that lacks pores, and a body that is equal parts rail thin and perfectly fit.  Add to this the rampant use of Photoshop on pictures, and women are comparing themselves to an ideal that doesn’t exist. The truth is, what we find attractive is much deeper, and the outside is enhanced by the beauty and glow from within.” Adds Mahoney.

So will Hollywood ever change how it portrays women?

“I hope so.  I think we are seeing some changes now.  I have interviewed some African-American actresses recently who are struggling because there seems to be more diversity in casting, but every role is for very slender women only, Hollywood “beauty” – and the plus-size gals are relegated to the sassy best friend or the mama bear. I have a show which I will be producing this spring. I wrote the lead role for myself – and guess what?  We NEVER talk about my character’s weight.  She is happy with herself.  She doesn’t watch what she eats, and she is the love interest!  So I am trying to be a part of the change!”

An estimated five to seven million people suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) in the United States.

BDD is an extreme focus on one or multiple aspects of their body that they wish they could change leading to eating disorders or an obsession with surgery to alter their appearance.  

“My target audience is Men and women ages 18-105. I start talking to women, but quickly I realized I needed to hear from men too! I hope to effect CHANGE. I don’t want to just highlight or complain about how women are represented in media; I want to offer solutions. I want them to feel like someone is on their side. I think whether you are 18 or 95 you can get something from the stories presented on the podcast. So far I find the vastness of the issue to be fascinating – body image issues cross all gender, race, and cultural lines. The hatred of self and body comes in all forms – sometimes it is height, sometimes it is hair, sometimes feeling too big, sometimes too little. It floors me that so many of us are holding ourselves to an imagined “ideal” – but that this ideal is so different from person to person!”

You can join Ann on this journey to discover what we need to feel beautiful and why by checking out the website www.eyeofthebeholder.us. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Eye of the Beholder is produced by Ann Mahoney, Austin Rumsey, and Danny Kadar and you can still catch up on the first episode that aired on Wednesday, October 11th CST on all podcast platforms. Ann told TVOvermind.com that shows will be weekly moving forward- you can subscribe here.

Photo Credit: Tracie Hovey

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