At Elle’s Women In Hollywood event Monday night in Los Angeles, honoree Jennifer Lawrence used her time at the podium to share one of her earliest Hollywood horror stories.
The story dealt with a particularly nasty abuse of power during which Lawrence, who was “just getting started” in the industry, was “told by producers of a film to lose 15 pounds in two weeks” and then asked by a “female producer” to take part in a “nude line-up with about five women who were much, much, thinner than me.”
“We stood side-by-side with only tape on covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating line-up, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.”
When Lawrence confronted another producer about the experience, he told her he “didn’t know why everyone thought [she] was so fat,” and told her she was “perfectly fuckable.”
After finishing the story, Lawrence added:
“I let myself be treated a certain way because I felt I had to for my career. I’m still learning that I don’t have to smile when a man makes me uncomfortable. Every human being should have the power to be treated with respect because they’re human.”
But Lawrence wasn’t alone. Reese Witherspoon shared her own horror story at the same event, telling the audience she’s been feeling anxious and guilty “for not speaking up earlier.”
Witherspoon goes on to say she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16, and that agents and producers convinced her “that silence was a condition of [her] employment.” Unfortunately, she continued, it was not the last time she experienced abuse in Hollywood.
“I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often. But after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career.”
Actress Lauren Holly also opened up about Hollywood’s problem with abuse on Monday. While doing a segment on a Canadian talk show called The Social, Holly said she had a meeting with Harvey Weinstein sometime in the late ’90s “to talk about her future with his company.” Everything was professional until, well, by now you know exactly how that man seems to operate.
Harvey disappeared for a moment, then returned in a bathrobe and asked her to follow him into the bedroom, where he continued talking business while on the toilet and in the shower. At that point, Holly said her head was “going crazy,” adding:
He’s acting like the situation is normal. He’s acting like we’re having a normal encounter. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Am I just a prude? Am I supposed to be more open minded?’ I didn’t quite know how to handle myself at that moment.”
When Weinstein was finished showering, he approached her “while still naked” and asked for a massage. She declined, after which Weinstein told her it would be a “bad decision” if she left. She left anyway, and was told by colleagues to “keep [her] mouth shut because it’s Harvey Weinstein.”
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