Criticism of 'Hunger Games' star Jennifer Lawrence's weight is 'silly' and 'damaging,' experts say

Criticism of actress Jennifer Lawrence’s figure and claims that she was too fat for the role of Katniss Everdeen in the “The Hunger Games” are “unjustified” and damaging, experts say.

After the film’s incredibly successful opening this weekend, critics from several major media outlets came down on its 21-year-old star, saying that her figure did not match the heroine in the book from which the film is adapted.

“A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss… But now, her seductive, womanly figures makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission,” wrote The New York Times.

The Hollywood Reporter similarly referenced her “lingering baby fat” as taking away from the movie’s realism, and  she was labeled “too big” for Josh Hutcherson, who plays Katniss’s romantic interest, by Hollywood Elsewhere.

But the media’s backlash against Lawrence’s so-called “big bones” has ignited a backlash of its own.

“This criticism is absurd. She makes a point of being healthy and not too thin, and calling her fat is a great disservice to the healthy body image that she represents,” John Sharp, M.D. leading psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School faculty member told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “As a society we are moving away from this too thin ideal. I think that Hollywood is moving away, too, but it takes a long time and it takes a lot of work. It’s been too thin for too long. It takes a long time for people to accept it that Jennifer is not fat, for example, and that she looks healthy.”

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    Sarah Maria, body image expert and author of “Love Your Body, Love Your Life, echoed Sharp’s sentiments.

    “This type of criticism is not just silly, it is damaging.  To state that Jennifer Lawrence is in any way ‘too fat,’ when her fan base is comprised mostly of young girls, is downright destructive. It feeds the false and prevalent idea that women, especially young women, need to be emaciated in order to be successful.  Is too much to hope that Hollywood be consistent in its message regarding body weight?”

    Other critics defended the casting of the Oscar nominee, saying the character was never written to be weak or emaciated.

    “The book shows Katniss doing quite a bit of hunting. She was never written as emaciated – she was thin, but she was also strong,” Amelia McDonell-Parry of pointed out. “Jennifer was perfect casting not because of how she looks, but because of the way she played the character – weariness, her spunk, and her fire.”

    Still, a few fans  have defended the condemning of Lawrence’s figure.  One viewer told us that he was disappointed she “didn’t look starving like she was supposed to,” another said that in general she just looked “too healthy” for a young girl in such dire straits and another fan said that while Lawrence is far from being too large, after reading the books she was “expecting Kat to be much slimmer.”

    For her part, Lawrence says she is well aware that she doesn’t fit the bill of the stereotypical stick-thin Hollywood star– and she’s proud to break the mold.

    “I’m totally normal. You see these 12 and 13 year olds ordering salads with dressing on the side and thinking they need to be on a diet,” she told UK Marie Claire. “I do want the stick-thin trend to end."