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Lately, Leonardo DiCaprio has looked much less like the manic pixie dream boy who painted Kate Winslet like one of his French girls and a lot more like Jack Nicholson. DiCaprio's appearance has spawned a number of articles indulging in puns (“What Is Gilbert Grape Not Eating?” TMZ asked of “Leolardo DiFlabrio”) or just outright pointing to his “growing paunch.” It’s weird how none of that seems wrong, don’t you think?
Who knows how Leo feels about being slammed as "The Great Fatsby." He may very well cry each night, cradling an Oscar statue made from crumpled print outs of these headlines. From a social perspective, however, it feels okay to see him placed in a "fat man" gallery. While fat-shaming is always problematic, the unrealistic expectations with which female bodies are constantly bombarded don't extend to men. You can suggest he go to "Butter Island" all you want, but Leonardo DiCaprio is going to be just fine.
— Joe 'Monk' Pardavila (@joepardavila) July 21, 2014
Compare that to Jessica Simpson. When she showed up in January wearing leather pants, TMZ said it was "bad news for chubby-chasers." Having shed some weight, Simpson is now practically on a redemption tour of Instagram. For us regular humans, those examples are revelatory of the unrealistic body images relentlessly cast upon women. For celebrities, it’s also career-changing. Packing on the pounds for an actress would also mean being relegated into a realm of one, maybe two possible female characters: the quirky aunt, the overweight best friend. For DiCaprio, it’s as incidental as his sloppy man bun.
While DiCaprio has used his matinee-idol looks to play roles like Jay Gatsby and Jordan Belfort, he's peppered his resume in recent years with far more gross and bloated characters. The evil plantation owner in "Django Unchained." The jowly J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar." His next role in "Revenant" casts him as a frontiersman (which could very well be the reason for his changing appearance). With the world now coming to terms with his "fat beach body," Leo's roles may seem a bit different but there will still be roles.
That's why calling a famous lady fat is outright wrong in a different way. It carries sense that a similar transition would be ruinous for her career. And while it's near impossible to feel sorry for really anyone who routinely makes trips to Bora Bora and tops Forbes' top-earning list, fat-shaming DiCaprio has brought into question how we view weight gain and advancing age through the lens of celebrity. A man's body can get fatter and older in a way that is inconsequential compared to any female daring to age past 22. So, go ahead and call Leo "The Great Fatsby." We can never repeat the past, but there are at least 25 models who don't seem to mind the present.
Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca