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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Emma Watson criticises 'dangerously unhealthy' pressure on young women


Actor Emma Watson said that when she walked into the canteen at Brown University for the first time it fell silent. Photograph: Ian West/PA

Emma Watson has criticised the "dangerously unhealthy" image projected by the fashion industry and said the pressure to look perfect has taken its toll on her.

The actor has also described her doomed attempts to merge into the background as a student at an American university, where she found herself being trailed everywhere by British photographers.

After the recent New York premiere of Noah, she tweeted a photograph of the array of cosmetics – and a guardian angel pin – that she said were essential aids to her flawless appearance, and another of herself in a backless dress captioned: "I did NOT wake up like this."

The actress said she is better at taking criticism these days than she once was. "As a younger woman, that pressure got me down, but I've made my peace with it. With airbrushing and digital manipulation, fashion can project an unobtainable image that's dangerously unhealthy. I'm excited about the ageing process. I'm more interested in women who aren't perfect. They're more compelling."

Watson became famous playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies and has been constantly in work since. She is about to start filming a thriller, Regression, by Alejandro Amenábar and is also trying to complete her degree at Brown University, Rhode Island.

She enrolled in 2009 for what would have been a four year course, but has taken several breaks for film work, and spent a year studying at Oxford.

"After Harry Potter, all that mattered was university," she said, in an interview with the Sunday Times. "It wasn't always easy to break down barriers, as having men from the British press following me with cameras didn't help my mission to integrate."

The American press, by contrast, "afforded me so much privacy", but her fellow students recognised her at once.

"On the first day, I walked into the canteen and everyone went completely silent and turned around to look at me. I had to say to myself 'it's OK, you can do this'. You just have to take a deep breath and gather your courage."

Emma Watson starts feminist book group on Twitter

Actor pledges to ask stars including Taylor Swift and JK Rowling to join platform for reading discussion, to be named Our Shared Shelf


Emma Watson: gender equality campaigner wants to tackle sexism. Photograph: Chris Jackson/PA

Harry Potter actor, UN ambassador and feminism campaigner Emma Watson has announced she is starting a feminist book group on Twitter, called ‘Our Shared Shelf’. Watson, who is a goodwill ambassador for UN Women and figurehead of the gender equality campaign HeforShe, tweeted yesterday that she wanted to start the book club, with her request for suggested names for the group sparking a flurry of responses.

After suggestions including ‘Wats Up Fems’, ‘Watson Your Shelf’ and ‘Hermione’s Army’, Watson announced today that she “absolutely loved” Twitter user @emilyfabb’s suggestion: ‘Our Shared Shelf’ and foreshadowed further information about the book club was still to come.

Twitter’s response has been enthusiastic: alongside punters, retired American footballer Abby Wambach, actor Sophia Bush and singer Kate Voegele have all tweeted they would take part in the club, with Watson agreeing to ask Harry Potter author JK Rowling and singer Taylor Swift to join in.

The first book may have been chosen: when Wambach asked for nominations, Watson elected American feminist Gloria Steinem’s latest memoir, My Life on the Road, a collection of the author’s reflections on her life and activism that the Guardian called ‘illuminating’.

Watson made headlines when she launched the UN’s HeForShe campaign in 2014, asking men to help women tackle sexism and for increased awareness of the negative impact masculine stereotypes had on men. “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong,” she said, in her speech to UN delegates.

Watson is not alone in her aspirations to start an online celebrity book club: actor Gwyneth Paltrow runs a cookbook club on her lifestyle website Goop, while fellow actor Reese Witherspoon – who has a history of producing film adaptations of her favourite books, including Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl and Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild – runs a book club on Instagram, on the hashtag#RWBookclub.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his biweekly book club in January last year, focusing on books that have “an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies”. Zuckerberg’s first choice, The End of Power by Moisés Naím, rocketed up the Amazon bestsellers list, outstripping 18 months of sales in days after the announcement.