Kate Beckinsale fed up over body shaming: Let's make this nonsense 'as archaic as smoking on planes'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Kate Beckinsale on the set of Watch What Happens Live in August. (Photo: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank)

Kate Beckinsale’s Instagram is a treasure trove — and not just because of the grumpy cat pictures and costumed dance parties in her kitchen. In between her jokes (that British wit) and silliness, there is a lot of real talk going on. On Tuesday, the topic was women-shaming and how it’s well past the time that it stops.

The Underworld star shared a screenshot from a Daily Mail story about her titled, “Vest-ed interest! Kate Beckinsale showcases toned arms in revealing tank top as she goes shopping.” The article is basically just 10 photos of her walking down the street with some commentary on her figure. She said someone she knew sent it to her, likely because it had her age wrong — 55 when she’s actually 44 —
and included a line about how she “showcased a body many women half her age would be proud of.”

“I mostly don’t see things like this but it was sent to me with some mirth and while, yes, it can be funny to read dumb things about yourself, I’ve been aware for years (particularly with this newspaper but by no means confined to it), of how the glee in shaming women is so much darker and further reaching than enjoying a little schadenfreude that some model looks rough without makeup,” she began.

Beckinsale went on to talk about how women are usually shamed for things that they have no control over. “For example GAINING WEIGHT WHEN PREGNANT, HAVING SHORT LEGS OR BIG ANKLES, HAVING LOWER BOOBS THAN A BARBIE, AGING, HAVING BIG EARS OR LONG TOES, BEING MENOPAUSAL,” she wrote. She called it “an archaic but pretty clever trick” because it hits “females when they are objectively at their most powerful,” including when they are “creating life” and “growing into themselves emotionally and intellectually.” That “knee jerk rush to bully her body in pregnancy — and afterwards her age, her cellulite, hacking a phone for private photos and mocking her vagina — trickles down from the one shamed woman and leaks into our whole culture, becomes a source of shame to be avoided by all women, all of us participating in this flight from shame ABOUT the stuff that makes women women.”

Beckinsale, who’s mom to college-age daughter Lily (with ex Michael Sheen), asked her followers (all 1.3 million of ’em) to see what this type of shaming really is: a way to attack women.

“Let’s resist being distracted and tormented by what our bodies are naturally doing and free that energy for joy and to effect change,” she wrote. “It’s not going to stop tomorrow. A whole raft of women will be picked apart for a million dumb things tomorrow. I urge us all, as females, to see it for what it is. Fear of YOU. Fear of the magical mystery s*** a woman can do with her magical body. Fear of what she can withhold or bestow.”

Beckinsale, who is one of the 80-something women to come forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct (she was a teen), went on to reference men of that ilk, saying, “It’s the same impulse to reduce the power of a pretty girl who wouldn’t date you in school by becoming a big boss and getting your p***s out at a meeting. It made you feel powerful … knowing what you were going to do. It’s fear. Don’t let it in.”

She went on to say she’s not trying to attack men — just the negativity around this narrative. “I’m not manbashing. I’m not even newspaper bashing. I just want to get to where this nonsense feels as archaic as smoking on planes. We put up with it, it harmed us, and we don’t miss it.”

And there’s a good reason why people should listen to her: “I turned eleven years older over Thanksgiving,” she quipped. “You should listen to me. I’m a straight up wizard.”

There are close to 18,000 likes and more than 900 comments on the post, including praise from Cara Delevingne, who wrote, “I love you, adore you, and you certainly are a straight up wizard!!!”

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