Rumer Willis says growing up in Hollywood warped her beauty standards: 'I literally wanted no boobs, straight hips'

·4-min read

All Worthy with Hunter McGrady is Yahoo Life’s interview series in which model and body positive advocate Hunter McGrady speaks with celebrities, influencers and friends about equality, confidence, curves and so much more.

Rumer Willis has been in the spotlight since she was born, as the oldest daughter of celebrity parents Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. This type of fame though, however, has also exposed her to the impossible beauty standards of Hollywood. But after spending her formative years struggling to figure out who she is and how she's most comfortable, the 33-year-old actress and singer is opening up her journey with body acceptance.

"I grew up wanting to have a body like a 12-year-old boy. I literally wanted no boobs, straight hips. That was my aesthetic," she explains. "And so I wore things that didn't look right, so if I dress like this, if I wear this kind of outfit, even if it doesn’t suit me, then I'll be acceptable and I was just so exhausted by it. It's trying to manipulate or fit yourself into a box that really isn't yours."

Young women everywhere can relate to the feeling of wanting to look like something they're not. Even early in my modeling days, I attempted to shrink myself through numerous diets and forms of exercise. While that eventually led me to my own journey with self-love, Willis says she also went through numerous phases to get to a place where she felt happiest with herself. 

"I just kept trying these science experiments to see how much acceptance I could gain," she explains.

Body positivity and body acceptance are most often talked about within the context of a person's stomach, thighs or other parts of their physique that they've been conditioned to think aren't beautiful. But while Willis has learned to embrace features such as her curly hair, she admits that it's become difficult to do the same with her body while having such a large platform where she's victim to the unsolicited opinions of people on the internet.

"What I've experienced most recently, which has been really frustrating, is navigating what is my natural size?" she says. "If you post a photo where the angle of your arm looks small because I've turned it this way as opposed to this way, it's like, 'You need to eat. This is unacceptable because you're such a body-positive person.' It feels like there's no middle ground and there's no place to just exist."

Ultimately, Willis hit a breaking point on social media where she decided to take full control of the narrative surrounding her body. She did so with a video where she was presented herself in a pair of underwear without any filters or editing. 

"I was feeling like such crap about myself, about my body. And so I just made a video in my underwear of like, this is what all of this looks like and Instagram-standard desirable is not a reflection of what I really look like or how I'm feeling about it," she says.

Much like the rest of us, she still has bad days.

"Even though I have days where I still don't feel good or I feel insecure, I think if you're not transparent about it, it creates such a disconnection," Willis says. "I don't want young women to feel like that. Especially now where people who are younger have social media and it's just all not real."

Willis also mentions that she felt she couldn't truly honor this body-positive moment for her without opening up about her sobriety as well, sharing that she's been sober for five years. She even partnered with Nicorette in an effort to speak more authentically about her decision to quit smoking.

"When I was growing up and I would watch movies and there was a really sexy scene or a very cool chick smoking, I was like, 'Yeah obviously I gotta do that because that's what the cool kids are doing,'" she says. "Then I realized that there's so many external things that we use as medicators to cover up anxiety or to make us feel better or that we use as a social lubricant because we don't feel enough."

Throughout the difficult journey of being open about sobriety, body image and even mental health, the impact that she might have on those watching her is what keeps Willis motivated to do and be better.

"I think the more open that you can be about it, the more that you'll realize that you're not alone," she says.

–Video produced by Kat Vasquez.

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