Movie critics will often find a lot of nitpicky things to criticize in movies because it's sort of their job, and though The Hunger Games movie may not be an entirely spotless adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel, some critics have spent a little too much time agonizing over Jennifer Lawrence's shapely figure.
New York Times critic Manohla Dargis, for instance, refused to believe that Lawrence could play a resident of the collectively malnourished District 12, insisting that her "womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission." Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter took issue the "lingering baby fat" his physiological radar detected on Lawrence's face. The illusion has been shattered! How can we expect the movie buffs to believe in the dystopian future where children are forced to engage in bloodsport when the leading lady can't even appear properly underfed?
Indiewire's Melissa Silverstein points out that Lawrence, in fact, looks totally normal, and that, if the incisive Dargis and McCarthy bothered to consider it, there's plenty of evidence both in the movie and the book that Katniss Everdeen is an exceptionally healthy resident of District 12 because she hunts all the time. It's like her thing. Besides, writes Silverstein, "all girls develop differently so maybe this 16 year old could still have some baby fat."
Never mind, though, the fact that critics have misapplied their powers of cinematic insight to body snarking Jennifer Lawrence — according to psychologists such as Kelly Brownell from Yale, messages such as those advanced in Dargis's and McCarthy's reviews have the potential to warp peoples' (but especially young girls') body images. Brownell told ABC News,
These kind of messages are toxic. They pressure people, especially girls, to be at odds with their bodies and to fight against whatever natural weight they might have. They force into the public psyche an arbitrary and unrealistic ideal that is attainable by few and leaves a great many scars in its wake.
A seeming overemphasis on appearance has dogged the Hunger Games cast in the wake of the film's release, which, though it's understandable that casting directors and fans may have different ideas of how a character looks, seems to be occupying an inordinate share of chatter about the movie. And, as Silverstein rightly mentions, why aren't any of these critics wondering how Gale got so jacked living off of rabbit and blueberries or why Peeta, from all the talk of his prodigious strength, seems a little shrimpy, not very much like the stocky baker's son Collins introduced us to in her novel? Maybe we should have each Hunger Games actor step up and have their BMI measured, just to be sure that it matches the exact conception we had after reading the book. Otherwise, how can we move on with our lives, knowing that, between movies and books, there exists some discrepancy?