An Open Letter To Ashley Judd!

Dear Ms. Judd,

Thank you. Thank you for speaking up about how society at large, other women, and how even we judge ourselves. Your courage in writing your Daily Beast Op-Ed response to the rumors circulating in the media is truly inspiring. You have already used your celebrity to promote causes such as HIV prevention. I applaud you for now using that status to address the ugly, saddening and downright disgusting way that “this abnormal obsession with women’s bodies and faces” (as you put it) infiltrates women’s lives. It is a serious issue – one we women need to join together to transform.

As a Body Image mentor and coach, I see all too often the negative effects of our culture’s standards of beauty. Beautiful women of all shapes and sizes come to me unhappy with what they see in the mirror. They all have an unattainable ideal in mind and judge themselves for falling short.

The statistics are astonishing. According to the South Carolina Department of Health, seven million American women suffer from an eating disorder. And younger and younger women are falling victim to these ideas of perfection – anorexia is the third most common chronic illness in adolescents and 95% of eating disorders occur in women between the ages of 12 and 25. We know that the patterns begin very early.

The most striking part of your piece was not your exposure of the patriarchy that we all recognize, but rather your addressing how we women compete with and judge each other and ourselves. As you wrote, “We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.” To overcome the unreasonable and often unhealthy standards of beauty we as a society have created, we women must band together and support each other in taking a stand.

I had the great honor of meeting my role model, Gloria Steinem, recently. She said, “We still have so much work to do.” It is blog posts like yours (its going viral is fantastic and proves people are hungry for it) that will open people’s consciousness a little more. I am committed to supporting women in quieting their negative self-critic, who cringes every time she sees her reflection in store windows or criticizes herself for ordering dessert.

We must collectively begin to stop measuring ourselves and comparing ourselves to others, be they models or our friends. We must do this for ourselves and for our daughters. We cannot let the next generation grow up with their eyes fixed to the scale.

Health is beauty and beauty is love. The ways to be beautiful are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Once we recognize that, once we support our sisters and accept ourselves, then we can address the whole system of homogeneous beauty our society has promulgated year after year. As you wrote, Ms. Judd: “Join in – and help change – the Conversation.” Like you, I am committed. And I know that there are so many women out there ready, willing and able to walk beside us.

In Sisterhood,

Laura Fenamore

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Weight Release & Body Image Coach Laura Fenamore is on a mission to guide women around the world to love what they see in the mirror, one pinky at a time, so they can unlock the secrets to a healthy weight and start loving their lives as soon as possible.

Her popular Body Image Mastery program is celebrated by hundreds of women who have lost weight, reclaimed self-esteem, and started bold, happy lives with Laura and her proven programs as their guide.

Having overcome her own battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released over 100 pounds 24 years ago to begin a journey to guide other women to live more joyous, balanced lives. The author of the forthcoming book Weightless: 7 Tools to Love Your Body (and Lose Weight For Good) and a frequent contributor to local and national media – including First for Women, Ladies Home Journal, the Dr. Pat Show and blog contributor on Betty Confidential, Daily Love and Positively Positive.  Laura believes that self-love and self-care is where the transformation begins. Learn more about her programs, invite her to speak or contribute to your program or conference, or place pre-orders for her book today at

  • Tilly

    Wow, thank you so much for this post, I just read the article Ashley Judd wrote too, and I swear, I had tears in my eyes! I went to go and purchase some facewash from a beauty salon recently, but decided to purchase online when I realised how the particular salon promoted “fillers” and other injectables. I don’t read tabloid magazines for the way they destroy women, and I get so frustrated when you see oversexualised images of celebrities in magazines, the discussions surrounding these women and each other. Hypocrisy is very prominent too, as in you say you disagree and yet you go right along with it. It really is about being strong in yourself and your self worth – when I feel critiqued I stand strong in myself and do not give my power away to how the media tries to breed insecurity with women. It’s been a long time coming for me and I’m so so so happy Ashley had the strength to stand up and do this – and without contradicting what she just said. Super fantastic and builds my strength too. MWA!

  • Beth K 78

    Unfortunately she is in an industry that is based heavily on appearances. Not only should you not put yourself in the public eye if you can’t handle the good and bad that goes with it (because there is good and bad with all careers right?) but it is young people who continue to put all the glory in “Hollywood” that is part of the problem. If people would spend half the time, money, and energy in becoming or looking up to teachers, doctors, humanitarians, etc instead of reaching for this Hollywood image, the world would be a better place. If girls weren’t bashing each other and competing insanely to be the next Angelina, Ashley, or Jennifer… And realized the price that comes… I think the letter she wrote us great and ibviously I don’t know her. I can’t imagine the stress that comes with that life but I can’t help but think, you put yourself out there, you know how it goes, turn your head and walk away. If you want to speak up for women, great. But to have it about your criticism seems not really right.

  • Laura

    thank you Tilly and Beth for reading this and seeing the importance of this issue. Means alot to me. 

  • @OnePinky, you’ve proven once again that the issue of body image transcends aesthetic; and is rather societal. Thanks for continuing to fight the right fight, and helping so many people along the way!