LOS ANGELES – Lena Dunham makes no secret of the fact she’s no size zero, but does she really deserve to be body shamed, and worst of all, by other women in the industry? Ironically enough, it was radio shock jock Howard Stern who defended the “Girls” star’s curvier physique after comedian Joan Rivers questioned her routinely all-out-there wardrobe selections.
“How could she wear dresses above the knee?” Rivers asked Stern on his Sirius XM show this week, to which he responded: “Well, I think the thing we love about her is that she doesn’t give a sh*t… She did a whole ('Girls') episode in a bikini. It was the funniest f**king thing I ever saw.”
So the controversial “Fashion Police” host went in for the kill.
“But that’s wrong,” Rivers argued. “You’re sending a message out to people saying ‘it’s okay! Stay fat! Get diabetes. Everybody die… Don’t let them laugh at you physically… Try to look better!”
Cue Stern ending with the zinger: “But why not? Men have been doing that for years.”
Which raises the question: just how deep does Hollywood’s own body-shaming war on women run? Is Dunham a prime example of the physical double standards the entertainment industry still holds when it comes to the weight of males and females?
“The double standard in Hollywood is extremely prevalent. Women are judged based on their looks and body-size much more than men. For men the size of their stomach does not come under the same scrutiny as the size of a women’s thighs,” body image expert and author of “Love Your Body, Love Your Life,” Sarah Maria, told FOX411. “The solution to America’s large overweight population is not to lambaste people for their body size. People do not make positive changes in response to being shamed.”
Ronn Torossian, CEO of New York firm 5WPR concurred that “attacking people because of their weight, for some reason, is still acceptable.”
However, Rivers’ jibes are certainly not the first of their kind. In an interview with Glamour magazine earlier this year, Dunham admitted that she had been called “fat and hideous” but managed to reach a point where she “radicalized (her) relationship” to her “own body in order to accept it.” But by baring all every Sunday night on her racy HBO show, should Dunham simply expect to be mocked from time to time?
“Any artist putting herself in the public eye must be prepared for this. It goes with the territory,” cautioned L.A-based therapist, Dr, Nancy Irwin. “Just like any politician must be prepared to get slammed on the Tonight Show.”
However, Stern wasn’t always such a champion for Dunham’s right to flash flesh. Early last year, the no holds barred host referred to the actress as a “little fat girl who looks like Jonah Hill and keeps taking her clothes off.” Dunham later called into his show to defend her size, claiming that she is “not that fat.”
“I don’t mean to take major issue with you about this. I’m not super thin,” sh argued. “But I’m thin for, like, Detroit.”
Stern offered an apology and the two have since become good pals, with the radio man now a somewhat surprising staunch defender against the Dunham body haters. But take with that what you will.
“Howard Stern champions and puts down whoever he decides he likes. He likes to shock and get people talking,” added Harvard sociologist, Dr. Hilary Friedman. “Women in Hollywood are certainly held to a higher standard than men when it comes to what they weigh. They are expected to be thin at every phase whether it be puberty, pregnancy, or even menopause. Joan Rivers seems to have passed through all these phases in the public eye and she has resorted to plastic surgery to keep up appearances.”
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Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay