Lucy Hale, best known for her work on the series Pretty Little Liars, is a role model for many young fans. Setting an example for other young women is often an unwieldy burden to bear, and occasionally, there are going to be some stumbles.
Most recently, Hale came under fire for calling herself “fat,” a move which Instagram followers claimed was extremely detrimental to Hale’s teen fanbase.
It all began when Hale posted a sweet Instagram photo of herself with her dad from several years back, with the caption, “You taught me to have soul. I love you daddy.”
The simple and sweet gesture was soon overshadowed by a comment which Hale herself posted under the photo. In the comment, Hale tagged her stylist, Scotty Cunha, and remarked “ugh I was so fat.”
The comment immediately caused fans to do a double-take in confusion. Not only can Hale not be construed as “fat” by any stretch of the imagination, but such a blatant, body-shaming remark (even when posted about oneself) is obviously not a positive influence on Hale’s younger fans. (Which, considering Hale’s target demographic, constitutes most of her fans.)
Fans immediately called the actress out on the hurtful self-criticism.
Though it’s probable that Hale didn’t mean any harm with the remark, it’s also very likely that the comment cause some heartbreaking for her younger fans. It can be pretty disturbing to 1.) have one of your idols call this body type “fat,” and 2.) have someone you look up to use “ugh” to accompany the descriptor of “fat,” obviously attributing negative connotations to the term.
“I know you’ve got the right to say that, but just imagine what it’s like for your fans who are a little bit bigger or struggling with their body to hear that from their idol who’s obviously never been fat,” commenter han.nah67 remarked.
“There are people who really are fat and who are big fans of you. That could sound offensive. I’m one of them,” _just_dream_ added.
Hale has discussed her struggles with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia in the past, so it may be unfair to criticize someone for a disparaging self-evaluation when they already have personal difficulty accepting their body. Perhaps it is more fitting to criticize the institutions that have conditioned Hale to look at her natural body type and feel disgusted.
That said, Hale has also reached a level of notoriety which makes her a role model for others. Struggling with body image is natural and human — but dragging other, impressionable girls into the fray of self-doubt isn’t acceptable.
This is an all-around heartbreaking situation. It’s incredibly sad that this actress cannot see herself clearly, and it’s incredibly sad that other girls are likely to see Hale’s comment and go to unhealthy lengths to avoid being labeled as “fat.”