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Female Body Image in Precious based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Updated on November 14, 2014

Precious' Character


Hollywood and Female Body Image

Lee Daniels’ Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire is a movie that focuses on female body image and how one may use food as a means of escape from abuse. Many young girls worry about their body images, and Precious Jones is not unique in this respect; however, there is an unconscious aspect to her behavior because she unconsciously demises that the more she eats the safer she will be in her family environment. Furthermore, her mother consciously believes that Precious’ overeating will make her unattractive; this is a behavior her mother desires to see manifested in Precious’ character, for she has the delusional view that Precious is a threat to her. Precious does not have an education; however, she does have the desire to be better than her existence; the problem is that when she tries to escape the confines of her oppressive and abusive environment, she tends to get knocked back down expeditiously. This causes her to seek an escape from reality, and her imagination reveals a desire to be a skinny Hollywood actress type. To the audience, Lee Daniels manages to illustrate a young, abused, and overweight girl who still embraces survival and hope for something better in the midst of her cruel surroundings; furthermore, Daniels offers the audience an honest depiction of the life of a young woman who utilizes overeating and imagination which is impacted by the Hollywood view of beauty to escape her existence.

Precious is constantly molested by her father, and in overeating, she unconsciously feels that she develops a body image that will be unattractive to him. However, the abuse continues, so the eating continues to a point where she becomes extremely overweight. Furthermore, her mother helps to drive her into this depressing existence by forcing her to overeat and berating her. Observe, “You gon' send a white bitch to my mothafuckin' buzzer? Talkin' 'bout some higher education? You're a dummy, bitch! You will never know shit! Don't nobody want you, don't nobody need you! You done fucked around and fucked my mothafuckin' man? And had two mothafuckin' children?” (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire). Precious is definitely the victim in this situation; however, her mother makes her out to be the cause of the incest. She also calls her intelligence into question. This is all in an effort to compete with her own child because she feels threatened by her; however, this is not logical because Precious is truly not in a position to take anything from her mother because her mother truly has nothing to take. She does not have the compassion or mental capacity to offer her daughter any solace; she simply gives her what she knows, cruelty.

Many Hollywood movies and television shows that focus on female body image highlights young girls’ desires to fit into the scope of what society considers beautiful. Female body images in Hollywood are not representative of the overall female population. Various movies portray women as overly sexualized and frail looking, and frailty does not equate to being healthy; however, this is the impression that young girls get from the screen. In the United States, the average dress size of a woman ranges from a size twelve to a sixteen. In the movies, actresses’ dress sizes range from sizes zero to six, and women who are a size twelve are referred to as plus sized. According to Stacy Smith and Crystal Cook, women are more likely than men to be adorned in sexually arousing clothing in movies, four times more likely to be exact. Furthermore, women are more often portrayed with an extremely skinny waistline, two times more likely than men. Hollywood portrays females with uncommon body images more often than males. Even when women are portrayed in cartoons, their characteristics more often than not include being clad in sexy clothing (Gender Stereotypes). Women with skinny waists and large breast are prevalent images of female characters in the movies. This is a spectacular joke, and the impact of this humorous façade manifests itself in the lives of many teens and women throughout the United States.

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire is a film that also explores the impact that living in such an environment can have on a young women, for Precious’ character is concerned with looking “beautiful” or fitting into a Barbie Doll image. Observe her inner feelings, “My name is Claireece Precious Jones. I wish I had a light-skinned boyfriend with real nice hair. And I wanna be on the cover of a magazine. But first I wanna be in one of them BET videos. Momma said I can't dance. Plus, she said who wants to see my big ass dancing, anyhow?” (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire). Here she illustrates the desire that many young girls exhibit which is the need to imitate that which they see in the mainstream media. Being half naked and dancing in a “BET video” would be just as downgrading as her present position; however, society paints a picture of this alternative existence in a positive light, so she embraces the thought of such an existence as a true escape when in reality it is just another falsehood.

Because her body has been violated, she is impacted with this need to feel “beautiful” or pursue this Barbie Doll image. In addition to her unconscious need to appear unattractive to her family, Precious embraces food as a metaphorical blanket that gives her comfort in the face of cruel reality. Food is her friend. Even though she is unaware of her unconscious reasons for overindulging in food intake, she is very conscious of the fact that she overeats, and illustrates reprehensible feelings toward herself for her over-indulgences. Her mother constantly berates her, and this only contributes to her desire to overeat and escape into Hollywood’s false images of women. Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire gives its audience an unrefined look at the impact of abuse and false realities on a young woman’s body images.

Works Cited

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. Dir. Lee Daniels. Perf. Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, and Lenny Kravitz. Lionsgate, 2009. Film.

Smith, Stacy L., and Crystal A. Cook. “Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Popular Films and TV”. Geena Davis Institute for Gender and Media (2008): n. pag. Web. 5 Nov. 2014


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