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30th Jan 2024

Mean Girls’ Reneé Rapp is changing the conversation around bodies for the better

Trigger Warning: This article discusses eating disorders.

Jody Coffey

Reneé Rapp

It turns out, Regina George is the nicest girl of all

She may play a ‘Mean Girl’ on screen, but in the real world, Reneé Rapp is anything but.

The actress, who is just 24 years old and wise beyond her years, is already working to dismantle unrealistic body standards and negative commentary around them one interview at a time.

In Hollywood and Broadway, the pressure to conform to unreasonable female body expectations is rampant, and when left unchallenged it can trickle down into wider society, and take root in young minds.

For example, at the Teen Vogue Summit last year, the actress was posed with the question:

“From a public perception [and] media standpoint, how do you reckon with what you can control and what you can’t?”

To this, Renee did not hold back and dove straight into the issue at hand and how detrimental it can be on a person’s self-esteem and health.

The conversation around my body is f*cking stupid. I’m like, ‘just shut the f*ck up.’ I mean, you’re so obsessed.

You are clinically so obsessed. And I get it. I know I look good. You don’t need to talk about it.

I mean, it’s ridiculous. It definitely hurts my feelings on a certain level. I won’t say, ‘It doesn’t bother me, and I’m doing great with it.’

I think it’s harmful. I think it’s stupid. And I think it’s ignorant. But also, again, you’re obsessed. Like, shut up.

Reneé Rapp – Teen Vogue Summit, 2023

The Mean Girls star plays Regina George in the remake of the iconic 2004 comedy.

Since she has come to fame, she has been vocal about living with an eating disorder, something which the sexist body standards have, sadly, exacerbated at times.

Working on the Broadway production of the film, Reneé experienced her fair share of negative commentary surrounding her body.

She told The Guardian that people involved in the show said “vile f*cking things”, which prompted her parents to travel to New York to withdraw her from production for her well-being and health, emphasising the dangers of body-shaming.

Eating disorders don’t just go away, and like, you’re healed, like: ‘Sorry, I can eat again, ha ha!

It’s a lifelong thing. There are battles with addiction and whatever everywhere.

I still struggle with it, but at least my parents know that I’ve been taken out of environments that were really harmful to my sickness, which is awesome and a huge win.

Reneé Rapp – The Guardian, August 2023

Opening up about her eating disorder helps to inform and bring awareness to a condition that many contend with silently and alone.

Being educated on the health condition may stop one person from sharing their unsolicited opinion about someone’s body, and, even if just that, it’s a win on the quest to squash unrealistic body standards completely.

While the actress appeared at the Teen Vogue Summit, she shared an update on her eating disorder, adding that it never really goes away.

I think my relationship with my body and eating disorders at large is very complicated.

It’s an addiction. It’s something that is ingrained in your psyche and subconscious.

But, it’s not something you can avoid, right? You must eat to survive and also just be a full person and to enjoy life and eat to — oh, I don’t know — want to f*cking eat.

Right now, I’m not going to say, ‘I’m doing amazing and it’s all better.’ It’s incredibly not. And I think it’s just going to be like that for a while.

But that’s fine for me. If I’m safe and not putting myself in danger, then I consider that a win. Because I’ve been not in that place before, so this feels good.

Reneé Rapp – Teen Vogue Summit, 2023

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or worried about yourself or someone else, help is always available.

Please contact BodyWhys, the national voluntary organisation supporting people affected by eating disorders, on their National Helpline at 01-2107906 or email [email protected]