MacDowell resists look Hollywood demands of women

February 16, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Tribune News Service

Acting and modeling may seem like a glamorous way to pay the phone bill and stock up on the latest Calvin Klein. But they have their dark side, too.

Anorexia and bulimia are two byproducts of that kind of fame. Jane Fonda, Alexandra Paul and Tasia Valenza have all gone on record about their battles with eating disorders.

According to Andie MacDowell, who started as a model before she became an actress, the ideal that is depicted in both movies and modeling is damaging to women.

"I'm real frustrated," says the star of "sex, lies and videotape" and "Groundhog Day."

"I know where I live I can separate myself and live a normal life. I eat very healthy and don't have neurotic problems. I don't work out two hours a day and just eat vegetables, let's put it that way. But when I come into the business there are people who are setting up this kind of body for women. I think it's extremely frustrating."

Producers have often told her to lose weight, says the one-time international mannequin. "They want me to look like a girl, and I'm a woman. It's very hard for women nowadays. I think it's hideous. I don't read articles about men working out three hours a day and eating just vegetables."

The only director who hasn't urged her to lose weight, she says, was Australian Peter Weir, who directed her in "Green Card."

"I weighed 138 pounds. I'm 5 foot 8. So by the charts I'm in there. Butby the way we're supposed to work, I'm maybe five pounds over. But he's the only director who said, 'Please, don't lose weight.' I couldn't believe it. It's the first time that anybody has ever said that to me. Oh, God, what a relief!"

Mr. Weir, who was not a show-biz insider, confided to Ms. MacDowell that he was concerned about the way females were viewed in Hollywood.

"His perspective is completely different. He told me that when he was in Hollywood he hated the conversations they'd have about women, 'Oh, isn't she hot? Isn't she a fox? She's hot stuff.' And he was completely disturbed about the way women were spoken of."

Ms. MacDowell doesn't denounce nude scenes in films. But she does object to the way they are done. "Most of the time the scenes that I see and the scenes that are written are demeaning to women. And we have a double standard here, that nobody's really ready to face or to deal with. And that's what I find disturbing. It's not that I find the human body vulgar. It's how it's done that disturbs me."

Ms. MacDowell lives in Montana with her husband, who builds houses, and they have two children, a son, 6, and a daughter, 3.

"We don't have the kind of situation where people are saying to my son, 'Your mom's a movie star.' We have a real home and people know who I am and whenever it's brought up, he gets kind of weirded out a little bit."

Ms. MacDowell's husband built the home they live in and they also own a ranch. The couple hopes to go into partnership building and selling homes, she says.

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