In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon both spoke about their experiences with sexual harassment at Elle‘s “Women in Hollywood” event on Monday.
Lawrence, who was honored alongside Margot Robbie and six other actresses, recalled when she was starting out and producers told her to “lose 15 pounds in two weeks.” There was also the time when she and five other women “stood side-by-side with only tape on covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating line-up, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.” When Lawrence went to another producer on the project to say that she felt uncomfortable with the weight loss request, “He said he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat,” she revealed, “he thought I was ‘perfectly f*ckable.'”
Witherspoon also told a harrowing story about what an unfortunately high number of women (and men) go through in Hollywood. “I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier,” the Big Little Lies actress said. “[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment.” It wasn’t an isolated incident, either. “I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often,” Witherspoon said.
Both Lawrence and Witherspoon acknowledged the bravery of the women who were affected by Weinstein’s “gross actions,” and ended her speech with a powerful statement. “I’m still learning that I don’t have to smile when a man makes me uncomfortable,” she said. “Every human being should have the power to be treated with respect because they’re human.”