Why Can’t an A-Lister Be An A-Cup? Keira Knightley, Shaping Youth

It’s World Breastfeeding week and ironically, I just prepped my first post over on Eco Child’s Play as a two-parter on breast obsession in media that creates inherent insecurities ‘leaking’ into kids’ psyches.

In my case, it’s a first-person account (posting here soon) of small-chested self-doubt in an otherwise solid body image when it came to nursing my newborn.

If kids don’t ever see an “A-size” out there, it presents an invisible media image…It ‘doesn’t exist’ or worse yet, is not deemed ‘normal.’

If kids read that Keira Knightley’s been “plumped up and pushed in” via digital ‘enhancement’ to make her ‘acceptable’ then what message is that sending?

Keira herself is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “I did one magazine and discovered that you’re not actually allowed to be on a cover in the U.S. without at least a C cup because it turns people off.” Turns people off? Ouch. When asked about digital doctoring in promos for King Arthur to Chanel, Keira said, “those things certainly weren’t mine” and recently put her foot down in Pirates of the Caribbean and her new upcoming film The Duchess to refuse to be retouched!

There’s a great post on BlogHer by Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei of 5 Resolutions (to transform the fashion/beauty industry) about this, where they rightfully call commenters to task (over 300 of them on the Huffington Post blog!) with some randomly sniping at Keira for her stance due to her slim/thin body type…and a ‘mixed message’ being sent.

“She deserves to feel good about herself–just as people of all shapes and sizes deserve to feel good about themselves, too. The ultimate goal is body diversity, isn’t it?

When an actress tries to make a point about self-acceptance by calling out the practice of retouching, it really doesn’t help the cause to call her a “freak of nature” or tell her to “eat a cheeseburger.”

As one who has a similar body type to Keira, and who also has negated all kinds of rude accusations and implications about “unrealistic beauty ideals” tied to my own health, height, and fitness, you can imagine I went into fist-pumping, “yes!” mode when I read this paragraph.

Claire and Magali of Inside Beauty.org/5 Resolutions also mention that Keira sued for libel and donated the settlement to a U.K. charity called Beat: Beating Eating Disorders…Very cool! Stick it to those tabloids!

Keira should not have to justify or refute someone else’s perception of what’s healthy or normal, when they don’t know squat about her lifestyle, habits, or fitness other than paparazzi pablum. Thank you, ladies. Brava!

Keira’s King Arthur promo posters (at left) got a bit of a ‘lift’ much to her eye-rolling ‘whatever’ dismay, but I think her newest stance and refusal pushes this issue to the forefront for all…

Mind you, I’m not equating the newsworthiness of female cleavage and starpower pushback on airbrushing A-cups to be akin to making change in world affairs…

BUT this IS a significant smidge toward standing up against a commodified culture where physical alterations are being unabashedly defended as ‘what sells’ in our industry!

Some could argue that Hollywood talent is ALL about being a commodity ‘sold’ for appearances, book tours, publicity and what not, with actors being plumped up or down as the industry sees fit.

Many producers would argue she should “take it or leave it” since it’s part of the game, all about the bottom line, she knew she’d be doing press when she took the role, yadayada, it’s part of the ‘package.’

Keira is striving to CHANGE what that ‘package’ looks like…

And I say power to her, that body diversity is looooooong past due.

Yes, photo retouching is a ‘given’ in this industry, as Keira herself has said many times over in head-shaking, dismissive, ‘whatever floats your boat’ style…

But by taking a strong stand and insisting her figure stay in its natural state, she is purposefully casting herself in the role of cycle-breaker which is dicey, bold and beautiful.

“She is proud of her body and doesn’t want it altered,” the article said.

That’s her prerogative, and it should be respected, period. Just as it may be another woman’s prerogative to choose to alter her depiction.

It signifies that Keira felt it was important enough to veer into the ‘outspoken’ branding arena of fellow A-listers that have become renown for their ‘stands.’

This industry can label her a maverick in a finger snap, just as Geena Davis has reiterated many times that her outspoken ways as an unapologetic feminist have put her in a select group as a strong proponent of media gender equity.

Some even call it “the difficult bin” when casting for shoots with headshots, since certain stars are ‘branded’ by their causes themselves…Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, or in the body image front: Jamie Lee Curtis in the More magazine anti-glam spread or Kate Winslet with her normal weight

Keira also has a self-ascribed ‘chip on her shoulder’ for never having finished university schooling and desiring to prove her dyslexia does not mean she’s ‘dumb.’

Again, laudable role model for youth and perseverance in my book.

Yep, she’ll be an honoree for People Shaping Youth alright, once we get back to the ‘celebs doing good things for youth’ focus.

I have a long overdue interview slated with honoree and actress Mary McDonough (Erin rom the Waltons days) founder of In The Know about cosmetic surgery risks and Beauty and the Breast

Hmn…those two actresses should team up for an au naturale ‘breast is best’ press junket!

Here’s to the A-sized A-listers, who get an A+ from Shaping Youth!

For more on the Keira kerfluffle here’s our own Shaping Youth body image correspondent Dr. Robyn Silverman with her full feature on Kiss My Assets. She ends her article by asking,

“So, where are we with all of this? Have the media gone too far with photo-shopping and retouching? Or, are we the culprits–always looking for perfection? If people didn’t laugh, point, or gossip when we saw real celebrity bodies on magazine covers, would we all be in a different place on this topic? “

Hmn…insightful question.

Comments, readers?

I am covered in stretch marks and celllulite but it doesn’t bother me at all. My body will never be the same again but I really don’t care,” Reese Witherspoon; New! Magazine.

“We all have cellulite. So do supermodels! I’ve been to the shows, and I go, ‘Stick figure has some cellulite!’ It’s nature. Without it, you’re not human.” Sandra Bullock, InStyle



  1. As a 30 year old woman with a body shape similar to Keira’s (slender, size A breasts) I applaud her for being such a great role model and for not “giving in” to the pressures to have large breasts. Not many women (thin, not-thin, big breasts, small breasts) can say that they are happy with their bodies. Little girls are being taught from such a young age to hate their bodies and want to change them. Growing up I was pretty much tortured for my skinny body and flat chest (both of which I hated,) though there was nothing wrong with the way I looked…..I was told there was!
    I am always hearing about how much women are pressured into being “thin.” But, for women like myself and Keira who are thin (naturally, might I add,) we are told to “go eat a cheeseburger,” or “go to Wendys.” What is wrong here!? Why can’t ALL body shapes be applauded and celebrated? Women come in ALL shapes and sizes, as long as we are healthy in our size…what’s the problem?

  2. I totally agree, Krista…’body diversity’ is my new media buzz word du’ jour. 😉

  3. All: You MUST see Darryl Roberts’ new film “America the Beautiful” I wrote about in this post here: https://shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=2048

    He needs our full support across the nation along these lines…I’ll post again on this soon, as his documentary about body image ‘ideals’ is premiering tonight in San Francisco and I just interviewed him! More on this site here:


    See it. Support it! Gonna start a Facebook Group for it. Bravo! –Amy Jussel

  4. Vous aimez ? Partagez !

  5. Accepting your body is the new subversive! Great post, Amy.

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