Hollywood Thin

Mischa Barton hasn't worked much since The O.C. Casting directors probably think she needs to lose a few.

The opposite of Hollywood Pudgy. Basically, the media's tendency to present women far skinnier than the average person as attractive, healthy and average/normal.

If you were to take these people and compare them with a random selection of people, it would become obvious that many of them are much thinner than average. Often they will have an extremely small waist, very shallow ribcage and extremely narrow shoulders that very few women in the real world can possess.

Women considered "fit" enough to be shown on TV generally fall into the fifth percentile when it comes to shoulder width and rib cage depth. These are hereditary traits that no woman can actually control and that have nothing to do with actual physical fitness. Yet these women are the ones who Hollywood shows as "average", especially if they have unrealistically enormous breasts hanging just above that extremely narrow waist.

For men the opposite holds true. Any male who isn't sporting a six-pack, ripped pecs, or biceps as thick as oak trunks is often portrayed as, or is implied to be, scrawny and weak, even if the character is supposed to be fourteen years old. Again, if you were to take these guys and compare them with a random selection of men in the real world, their bodies would not be seen as very average looking.

Ditto in animation, video games, and a great many comics, doubly so because they aren't required to find living people who have the desired looks. In fact, being unconstrained by human physiology allows non-live-action media to take this trope Up to Eleven; see also Noodle People, Most Common Superpower and Heroic Build.

This is quite possibly a side effect of the entertainment industry's tendency to cast, and then depict, an entire slate of attractive and healthy people, except for when the plot demands otherwise.

Subtrope of Hollywood Beauty Standards. Contrast Hollywood Pudgy and Hollywood Homely. Compare Informed Attractiveness.


    open/close all folders 

  • April Hunter stopped eating when she arrived to Japan on her first trip to Chiba to do a Toyota commercial, leading her host/employer to worry she'd get too skinny, something no one had apparently hassled her about before. She then realized Japan where many athletes follow a sumo diet, including the ladies, she realized she came off as fairly small for her size, where she was used to being bigger than most peers at home.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Any human or humanoid character (male or female) in any series by CLAMP. All are very tall (except for kids) and very thin. There's a reason why they're often called Noodle People.
  • Hiko Seijuro in Rurouni Kenshin. He spends a lot of time pumping iron to offset the side-effects of the Hiten-Mitsurugi Ryu, to the point where he has weights put into his trenchcoat. As a result, he has biceps the size of tree trunks, washboard abs, and huge pecs. Contrast this to his student, Kenshin, who does not spend as much time weight-training (and, while not flabby or scrawny, is nowhere near as muscular as his teacher.)
  • The eponymous character of Nana. She's so thin as to be one of the Noodle People; one has to wonder how she got pregnant in the first place!
  • Clair Leonelli in Heat Guy J. The artist (Nobuteru Yuki) draws thin people to begin with, but really played it up with Clair. (It's especially noticeable with his dark clothes and sickly pale skin. Justified, as he's the resident Ill Boy in this anime. Averted in the manga, where he's still thin, but no more so than any other character, and not sickly looking.

  • Tabloids. Pick one up at random and you'll see a Shocking Exposé of some star's Embarrassing Body Flab or Cellulite, accompanied by ancient stock swimsuit pics. Anyone with ten pounds of extra fat or more is considered "struggling with weight problems."
    • Tabloids are really inconsistent about it, too. The cover will show a Hollywood Thin girl with the appropriate headlines (Deathly skinny! Only 94 Pounds! Family is Scared for her Life!). However, open it up and five pages later it will talk about her looking "Fabulous in a [HARD TO PRONOUNCE DESIGNER] gown at a party last week."
    • It's also not unusual to see a hand-wringing "How Thin is Too Thin" tabloid that contains pages of advertisements for questionable (and dangerous) diet pills that promise you'll lose twenty pounds in two weeks. In some cases, the woman (and it's usually a woman) in the "before" picture looked a little bit fleshy at the most and in the "after" shot, she looked Hollywood Thin.
    • More insidiously, the "BABY BUMP??!??!!" articles/headlines often serve the same purpose, except that instead of directly shaming an actress for daring not to be Hollywood Thin, they purport to be excited about her suspected baby. Even if the suspected "baby bump" is no more than wearing a loose T-shirt and sweatpants, or simply looking like she exhaled.
  • Fashion photography has reached the point, in its ever-stricter search for vanishing thinness, where the models are starting to look like death warmed over. So, the visible ribs, the bags under the eyes, the other signs of starvation are photoshopped away, though, of course, the model remains as twig-thin as she was at the start. Readers are led to assume that this kind of body shape can be attained without looking like a walking corpse, and the search for a model who actually looks like Gumby goes onward.
  • Worth noting is the controversy over 2011's London Fashion Week, which used models that were obviously very unhealthy. Say all you want about some people being naturally thin, but that sure as hell ain't natural!
  • Closely related... shop mannequins generally have Barbie-like implausible figures, being tall and sylph like. To make the mannequins look even thinner, the stores will put them in the smallest possible size, then pull the excess fabric to the back and tie it there so that the mannequin's inhuman figure can be displayed in full.
  • The aptly named model Twiggy is widely regarded as having first popularized the idea of thin women as sexy, moving away from the "curvy is sexy" image of the early 20th century. There were allegations that she was anorexic, despite the fact she was noted for being a Big Eater. Ironically, Twiggy herself observed in interviews at the time that "obviously" no other models would be so freakishly thin in the future.
  • It has been repeatedly shown in studies that Hollywood Thin is the least healthy weight category of all (it is far less risky to be among the most morbid of morbidly obese). The lack of body weight causes undue stress on internal organs and means your body has no reserves to fight infection or repair from injury.
    • That said, being slightly underweight might actually be a benefit in terms of lifespan and health (there is, however a difference between being at slightly below the healthy body weight, and being anorexic or bulimic, since there are other reasons, such as a fast metabolism or a whole-grain vegan diet, that one might be below normal). BTW, the same website found that as more and more Americans became overweight this average was wrongly deemed a "healthy" weight, which may be what the article was talking about in the first place.
  • Thankfully, this trope may be on its way to become discredited as many Fashion industries impose a minimum weight limit. They're beginning to realize having models that fit their definition of beautiful isn't much good if they're too unhealthy to get on the catwalk.

  • Along with the Twiggy example above, Audrey Hepburn set a standard in the early 1960s for Hollywood Thin. She suffered starvation during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands when she was a teenager, which damaged her body's metabolism and led to a relatively early death at 63, after a lifetime of health problems.
  • Bridget Jones presented a Values Dissonance example. To pass as British, Renée Zellweger had to put on nearly three stones (42 pounds) to carry the part. To British eyes this made her appealingly attractive (and by no means fat). To American eyes she had become disgustingly obese. Renee had to lose this weight before she could get Hollywood jobs again. British fans of the film were appalled and asked if bridget had become dangerously ill or anorexic.

    Live-Action TV 
Many, many shows, including...
  • Ally McBeal was this trope at its extreme. Portia DeRossi has recently come out about her anorexia issues stemming from the show. Callista Flockhart was no fatty either...
  • Lost, which does this for both men and women (with the exception of Hurley).
  • House. Particularly Thirteen (Hugh Laurie is skinny—which given the fact he had been a rower at Cambridge makes sense—but any perception of sexiness arises out of his scruffy beard and big blue eyes).
    • Lampshaded in-verse a few times with Cameron. "All right. You weigh 90 pounds because it makes you healthier?"
    • At one point, House "jokes" that Cameron is too thin to be menstruating.
  • The 2009 V series. Justified for the Visitors. For the humans, not so much.
  • Averted on Mike & Molly. Molly's sister, who is portrayed as the hottie, looks to be about a size 12 (US).
  • America's Next Top Model. All of them. Even the contestants portrayed as "big" or "full figured" are underweight fantastically curvy but nowhere near fat.
  • Actually subverted in the makeover show The Swan, of all places. Contestant Kelly Becker from season 1 was the only girl who had to put on weight during her training as the judges felt she was dangerously underweight. She put on some muscle and looked much healthier by the end.
  • Nicely subverted in Ringer, as former prostitute and drug addict Bridget attempts to assume her healthier twin sister's identity, and everyone comments on how much thinner she is, which they largely don't see as a good thing. Of course it is still Sarah Michelle Gellar that they're talking about.
  • Speaking of Sarah Michelle Gellar, one of her former Buffy stunt doubles talked about how hard the popularity of this was on female stunt doubles. The stunt double was previously a suit actor for the Pink Power Ranger and several of the monsters at different times, and, despite being the double for wispy gymnast Amy Jo Johnson and willowy dancer Catherine Sutherland, it gave her a little more room in terms of body shape (since the identity-obscuring costume and scenes shared with a team of muscular male stunt actors always made her look smaller by virtue of perspective.) However, she went to Buffy, and as the "Lollipop" look (as she called it) came in vogue in Hollywood, she said she had a hell of a time matching body-type with Gellar and still being healthy enough to do her job. She also said that Rangers switched over from an American to an Asian stunt team around the time she left for possibly the same reason (she mentioned the male actors they brought over from Japan and Korea were about the same size she was, right after she mentioned she was sweating herself down to nothing doing fight scenes in the California sun under several feet of foam rubber.)
  • The rigid "thin" standard took its toll on young actresses on other shows, as well. Two notable examples: Tracey Gold had a well-publicized battle with anorexia after media outlets commented on her weight while she appeared on Growing Pains. As you can see in this photo, she was a healthy, attractive teenager. Likewise, Christina Applegate has said in interviews that she spent an unhealthy amount of time dieting and working out to wear the tight outfits required of her as Kelly on Married... with Children.
  • On The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, Janice very honestly seemed to believe there was no such a thing as "too skinny." When she was told it would be good for business to at least have a few plus-sized models on her roster, she was openly hostile toward them, saying (in tears) they were bad role models and wondering how she would be able to explain health, fitness, and nutrition to her young children and not sound like a hypocrite for employing them. This was then undercut by one of her models named Crystal (who Janice seemed to be grooming as her protege) who later said she had dieted down so far she was no longer having her period, talking as though it were some kind of necessary sacrifice instead of the giant red flag it was.

  • During his "Thin White Duke" period in the mid-1970s (i.e. Station to Station), David Bowie dropped in weight to 94 pounds as a result of his diet of "red peppers, milk, and cocaine." Let us repeat: 94 pounds. Not 194. Not 94 kilograms. 94 pounds. And no, Bowie is not short: he's 5'10", which is slightly taller than the average British man of his generation.
  • One of the most well-known examples is Karen Carpenter. Once she became famous, the singer was criticized in the media for her appearance. In her twenties, she was 5'4" and about 120lbs, which is slender by normal standards (BMI of 20-21). When she died in 1983, from complications due to anorexia nervosa, she weighed only 91lbs (BMI of 15.6), shortly after being hospitalized at 78lbs, and looked terrifyingly skeletal.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Starting in 2004, CM Punk teased Daizee Haze for being too thin in IWA Mid-South which eventually lead to her flexing muscles at Punk before tossing him to the mat while "disguised" as his nemesis, Delirious, in 2005. Punk was later on the receiving end himself in WWE, where he was called a "Skinny Fat Ass" by Kevin Nash.
  • One episode of Raw had Randy Orton return from injury and Vince McMahon came out and said his clothes looked like they were hanging off him and his neck looked like a stack of quarters (implying he'd lost weight because he hadn't been able to train due to his injury). Except Randy looked exactly the same as he normally does (although he was put in a suit a size or two too big to help with the effect.)
  • Angel Williams was known as the hard body for her "perfect" abs and biceps. Then she went to WWE's developmental companies and came out noticeably thinner, which made her the butt of these jokes for half a decade, including her second and third runs in TNA as Angelina Love. Around 2010, she was speculated to not be eating altogether. Leva Bates even expressed worry about her state, in what had to be self aware humor. While the jokes have mostly stopped in her fourth TNA run, it bears mentioning Love probably wouldn't be able to wrestle at all if she ever was as worryingly underweight as claimed. Additionally she's said in interviews that her family are naturally very thin and can get abs very easily with minimal training - then joking that many of her contemporaries hated her for this.
  • Michelle McCool faced massive insults from fans while she was getting pushed. She had a massive Hatedom that called her "Skeletor" because of her thin body type. On the flip side, Bryan Alvarez accused her of having an eating disorder, stating it was the reason she had been hospitalized sometime prior to Wrestlemania 23. Michelle denied the eating disorder story plenty of times, even in a shoot interview on her website (where she had no problem discussing other issues). For the record, Michelle is 5 ft 10 and was billed at 128 lbs.
  • The WWE SmackDown! writers deserve to be slapped for having Michelle McCool call Maria Kanellis "underfed" when Maria has said she was told by management that she was too fat.
    • The LayCool characters are probably a subtle Take That! to this trope; one promo had Natalya insult them by saying their IQ was lower than their combined (non-existent) waist size. Of course you have the heels in the situation as two fashion-crazy Valley Girls obsessed with their weight thinking that was a compliment.
  • A lot of people tend to go on about how the WWE Divas are too skinny but it was quite a shock when Maria Menunous got in the ring and she looked like a skeleton next to Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes, Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly. Though the difference is obviously down to the divas being actual athletes and having muscle on them even if it's not too visible.
  • Brie Bella has gotten hateful comments hurled at her by fans claiming she looks like a stick insect and "needs to eat something". This is ignoring the possibility that she merely just looks much thinner because she is next to a lot of very curvy and muscular women on Total Divas. Additionally the twins have said in interviews that Brie is naturally slimmer proportioned than Nikki. Additionally Brie is a vegan so she's bound to be a little less curvy than her sister. Showing how Hate Dumb really is in effect, her sister Nikki has gotten the reverse of this and been referred to as "the fat twin".
    • Total Divas does show the effects of this trope. Brie panics about an upcoming photoshoot and tries to get her sister to do a juice cleanse with her. As in drinking nothing but smoothies for 30 days. While a cleanse is often a good idea if one wants to detox after too much junk food, it's the sort of thing that should just be done for 2-3 days at most.
  • AJ Lee has faced similar comments, though not to the same extent. She is naturally very petite and again looks much thinner than she actually is in comparison to the more voluptuous Divas on the roster. For added effect, her Chick Busters partner Kaitlyn is a former body builder. So of course AJ is going to look anorexic next to her. AJ is even known to crack jokes about frequently being mistaken as Older Than They Look.
  • This is the gimmick of Ring of Honor crew member turned trainee turned wrestler, Cheeseburger. He was so named because Charlie Haas took a look at him and proclaimed he needed to eat one.
  • Kristal Marshall was known for having a very skinny figure while she was in WWE. She later confessed that she barely ate at all while she was on the road - and claimed that she was "dangerously underweight". She was a much healthier weight when she appeared in TNA.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Margaret Cho jokes about this in her standup special Assassin, talking about how women at awards shows always want to show off their collar bones.
    (Valley girl accent) "Like oh my god! Look at this bone! Do you see this bone? I'm like, totally emaciated! Look at this bone, I'm almost dead! Like, look at this bone!"

  • Barbie is probably the most famous offender of this trope. Countless studies have been done trying to determine what she would look like if she were a real woman. They all say a wide variety of different things, but most come to a conclusion that can be summarized thus: "She would be extremely unhealthy, and her body type is virtually impossible for a real woman to attain." To be exact, they said that she would be unhealthily thin, six feet tall in her bare feet, have feet too small to walk with, and have a long, serpentine neck. This is a good image showing just how ridiculous Barbie's proportions really are.
  • The male counterpart would be newer G.I. Joe figures. If blown up to full size, they would have roughly 25-inch biceps. For comparison, jacked-as-all-hell Mark McGwire had about 22 inches at his peak, and Hulk Hogan, at his steroid-laced hugest, would brag about his 22-inch "pythons".
  • Bratz are this. They've probably done less physical damage than Barbie though, because their bodies are more an anime style. What's more concerning is the stereotypes for fashion, makeup and hobbies that they set little girls.

  • Ciem Webcomic Series: Ciem is the closest to this that Machinomics are capable of committing. Almost every female character uses the same custom "Barbie" mesh (Zenman's Curvy Default Replacement at Mod The Sims, with size B breasts.) Candi herself is extremely prone to narrowly avoiding being the poster girl for Hollywood Thin, especially as a teen. Her sisters, however, are implied to be slightly curvier with their clothes off; though there is little evidence in the written canon. Then again, since her sisters aren't superheroes, their being thinner is tolerated, if not actually justified: not having Candi's job gives them an excuse to be laz y(-ier).
  • Cinna Grossul of Pacificators is one. However, it's not for Fanservice - her teammate Daryl Smithson is doing her best to get Cinna to eat more.
    • It's actually given Cinna some trouble; for example, she's particularly susceptible to wind attacks, which could easily pick her up and toss her away. Blow Her Away, indeed.

    Western Animation 
  • Nearly every woman in the show Tripping the Rift. All of them, human and alien alike, have wasp waists and massive racks. T'nuck's race is the major exception.
    • (Sort of) justified in the case of Six, as she's a gynoid created to appeal to repressed nerds.
  • Clever show that it was, Sabrina: The Animated Series featured a character design for the girls that was just unsettling as far as their skin-and-bones stature was concerned. And the show even had an episode where two girls desire to lose weight to fit into a pair of jeans that only come in one size. Admittedly it did deliver An Aesop about body image but Harvey going on about a "creepy skinny girl" and Hilda and Zelda calling the model "scrawny" is undermined slightly by having Sabrina and Chloe being almost just as twig thin normally.
  • The girls in Winx Club. Especially in their fairy forms. (Kinda justified for the main characters and their magical friends. With their magical insect wings, it doesn't seem so strange that they have an insect-like body structure. Not justified for the muggles, however.) Oddly enough, they look fairly sized, even if on the small side, as children.
  • Nearly every female character in Danny Phantom has a small waist, generous rear end, and curvy legs. Even the dead ones. And his middle-aged mom.
  • Same goes for Fairly OddParents. They are the Trope Namer for Hartman Hips.
  • Taken to the extreme in The Simpsons. In the episode "Sleeping With The Enemy," we see a child model who weights so little she's reputed to have gone back to her birth weight, and becomes too thin to see should one look at her from the side.
  • The casts of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls and Littlest Pet Shop (2012) couple this with cartoonishly oversized heads and legs that would occupy two thirds of their height were it not for said oversized heads.