‘Please stop asking women about their weight’: Nicola Coughlan rightfully hits back at body shaming comments
Nicola Coughlan in Molly Goddard
Nicola Coughlan has, eloquently as ever, responded to a podcast host for her uncalled for labelling and critiquing of her styling at the Golden Globes.
What will it take for women in the public eye to be judged on talent alone? We know that, sadly, it isn’t that sort of a world; even in 2021, we can still get caught up citing ‘best dressed’ lists (an unnecessary and outdated concept) before talking of the skill it takes each actor to get the performance we see on screen brought to life – and it is women who are thrust into this unsightly element of the spotlight.
Irish actress Nicola Coughlan (an IMAGE favourite) is the latest to have been caught in this crossfire and rightfully called it out. On Sunday evening, Coughlan – who has won universal praise and acclaim for her role as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton as well as her performance in the brilliant Derry Girls – was one of the legions of actors who attended the 78th annual Globes virtually and dressed beautifully to mark the occasion.
Coughlan looked incredible in a canary-yellow gown by designer Molly Goddard with a short black cardigan by Ply Knits, De Beers jewellery and striking eye-shadow. She stood out from the crowd in the best sense of the word – a vision in colourful tulle.
However, American podcaster Amanda Richards took to Twitter to apparently take a dig at Coughlan using the sentence “the fat girl from Bridgerton”, while critiquing her choice of cardigan.
After being pulled up publicly on the same platform by Nicola and plenty of equally unhappy Twitter users, she attempted to give context to her words, while the Irish breakout star used the opportunity to call out those who continue to obsess about the looks of women in the public eye.
“Can we judge actors for their work and not their bodies,” Coughlan wrote on Twitter while linking to an Op-Ed she wrote for The Guardian addressing the same subject.
“Also can we please stop asking women about their weight in interviews, especially when it completely irrelevant? I’m seeing a lot of interviews from 10 years ago where people go “Oh weren’t the questions so inappropriate!” unfortunately it’s still happening. It’s so reductive to women when we’re making great strides for diversity in the arts, but questions like that just pull us backwards,” she said.
Also, and I mean this in the nicest way ah possible, I’m not a body positivity activist, I’m an actor I would lose or gain weight if an important role requirement. My body is the tool I use to tell stories, not what I define myself by.
It’s a conversation she says we shouldn’t have to keep having.
In response, Amanda Richards said that she should have referred to Coughlan by her name, but refused to apologise for her use of the word fat.
I think the point here is that no woman should be dehumanised and reduced to a label by someone else – regardless of the intention or whether it was meant as a “flippant” remark. It wasn’t even about the use of the word ‘fat’ at all. We are much more than what we wear or weigh so why should any such label be used?
And with so much focus dedicated to pitting successful women against each other no matter the context, Richards it has to be said, could choose her use of language a lot more carefully.