The actor appeared on the Podcrushed podcast, where she discussed her teenage years, careers and her body image issues while filming the hit sitcom.
If you were a teen or adult in the late 90s to mid-2000s, chances are Friends was a large part of your daily viewing.
The hit sitcom was a mainstay of 2000s pop culture, spawning legions of fans worldwide, hair and beauty trends that people just couldn’t get enough of (I’m looking at you Jennifer) and generally becoming an integral part of television history.
And while it led the sitcom charge and launched the careers of six of the most famous television actors of the world, the impact of 2000s body image culture and the pressures to look a particular way were a pivotal part of that time – something that actor Lisa Kudrow could relate to.
The star, who played the much-loved character Phoebe Buffay, appeared on an episode of the Podcrushed podcast co-hosted by Penn Badgley, where she discussed her teen years, career and her perception of her body.
In the interview, Kudrow recalled how seeing herself on Friends made her feel differently about the way she looked at the time.
“It wasn’t until Friends that I realised, ‘Oh, I don’t look like I thought how I thought I looked’ and that’s what was so jarring.
“Seeing myself on the show and seeing myself in clothes and seeing Courteney and Jennifer, I thought, ‘Oh, they know tailoring so they can discuss it with the costume designer about where exactly to take it in’,” she said.
She added that she would ask Cox or Aniston to come with her to her fittings because they knew about tailoring, but realised the costume alternations didn’t change the way she felt about her body.
“That’s when I would see it’s not just about tailoring,” Kudrow said.
“I’m not trying to say I was overweight,” The Comeback star added. “I was not. I just had no idea of the actual shape of my body.”
When asked at what point Kudrow began to unlearn those perceptions about her body and the pressures that came with that, she said “my late 30s or 40s”.
“I just realised it’s okay, this is just what I look like [and] that’s okay. I mean, do what you need to do to be healthy but if this is your body, it’s okay.”
She added that a lot of the body image pressure she felt was coming from herself.
“That’s all in your own head, you’re doing that to yourself,” she explained. “No one needs you to be Tom Cruise or as famous as Tom Cruise. For me, at that time, it was Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan. No one is actually requiring that of me.”
This isn’t the first time Kudrow has spoken about her challenges behind the scenes of the show, with Kudrow previously sharing that the fittings on the Friends set “were not fun”.
In a 2021 interview with SiriusXM, Kudrow said: “Fittings were not fun, that’s for sure.
“Yeah, I have a different body type. I’m just bigger and sometimes the clothes, when I’d see the show, were so sort of full of volume … it was only this one moment where I hugged both of them but there was no sleeve. It was just like, I enveloped them. I felt like this mountainous thing that swallowed them alive.”
Discussions around body image in the 2000s have been increasing over the last few years amid the resurgence of Y2K culture and many stars during that time speaking about their experiences in Hollywood.
Actor Melanie Lynskey has been vocal about her journey in Hollywood and recently shared that she was body shamed on the set of Coyote Ugly.
Lynskey starred in the 2000 cult classic film alongside Piper Perabo and Tyra Banks and said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, that production staff scrutinised her physical appearance, alongside some of her co-stars.
“It was ridiculous,” Lynskey told the publication. “I was already starving myself and as thin as I could possibly be for this body, and I was still a (size) four. That was already people putting a lot of Spanx on me in wardrobe fittings and being very disappointed when they saw me, the costume designer being like, ‘Nobody told me there would be girls like you.’”
This time in pop culture was pretty damn dark for women with the pressures society placed on them to fit a particular look no matter what it took to get there. To see the women of that time speak years later about coming into their own and rejecting toxic beauty ideals is admirable to see and reminds us all that the journey towards acceptance may be a long one at times (social media doesn’t make it easier), but it is worth it in the end.
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