Beloved comedian and actress Dawn French is taking a stand against the entertainment industry’s obsession with image, fearlessly confronting body shamers with a powerful message.
French found herself the focus of the public’s fixation with appearance when she underwent a hysterectomy in 2014. At the time, her doctor suggested that losing weight could speed up her recovery, prompting The Vicar of Dibley star to shed over 40 kilograms in preparation for the procedure.
Her new look didn’t go unnoticed, swiftly capturing the media’s spotlight as headlines worldwide focused on her new appearance.
Now in a recent interview with The Times, French has opened up about how women are often “reduced” to their appearance when in the public eye.
“I have never rejected the bigger woman I have been. Lots of people do it and say, ‘Oh, you look so much better – now you look well.’ And I think, ‘F*** off! Don’t judge that other person who I loved,’” she told the publication.
French isn’t alone in being judged for her appearance, the 65-year-old recalling how her fellow entertainers have suffered under the same intense glare.
“[British singer] Alison Moyet is a very good friend and so often she has been reduced to descriptions of her physicality,” she said.
“She’s this giant talent, why reduce her to that? I’m not taking any s*** from anyone about any of it.”
French also discussed the early years of her career when she and her comedy partner, Jennifer Saunders, starred in their BBC show French and Saunders. She pointed out that they often faced comments about their looks, a situation she felt was different from their male colleagues.
“For many years Jennifer [Saunders] and I were always described by how we looked, especially me, because I was the bigger one,” she said.
“It was always about ‘running to fat’ or ‘plump’, and they never said that about any of the male comedians.
“I absolutely own whatever my size is and I will call myself whatever I want. But if I feel like the intent is to shame me, I will not have it.”
French has never been one to shy away from calling out the current beauty standards of “impossible” perfection, which she claims has “buggered” women’s chance for equality.
Speaking on the Joe Black Meets podcast, French said she doesn’t get modern beauty trends.
“I cannot entirely love perfect people. I cannot understand why people only want to show us [how perfect they are],” she said.
“It makes me sad actually, especially with young people. I feel for my own daughter and Jennifer’s [Saunders] daughters – and all the daughters – feeling like they’ve got to have the big lips and they’ve got to be orange and that they’ve got to have lashes on all the time.
“And that they’ve got to have Kardashian shapes. Impossible stuff. Whereas their flawed real beauty is just heavenly – it’s bliss. It’s bliss. I would love us to creep back to that.
“And after all the fights women have had to be anywhere near equal [to men]. We’ve kind of gone and buggered it all up at the last minute by becoming Jessica Rabbits.”