Kate Hudson Wins Libel Award After Being Called Skinny

Kate Hudson is just the right weight, according to a British court:

Kate Hudson has accepted libel damages from a supermarket tabloid that claimed she was dangerously thin, her lawyer said Thursday. The British edition of the National Enquirer has agreed to pay undisclosed damages and print an apology for an October 2005 article that claimed Hudson was “way too thin” and looked “like skin and bones,” said Simon Smith, a lawyer for the 27-year-old actress.

Now, Hudson looks perfectly healthy to me. But how does one demonstrate that one does not look “like skin and bones” or is not in fact “way too thin”? Aren’t such things matters of opinion rather than fact?

And how injurious, really, is it for a Hollywood actress to be considered skinny? Kate Moss seems to be making a fabulous living at it, as did Twiggy and countless other other supermodels. And Calista Flockhart is marrying Harrison Ford.

This, on the otherhand, is more problematic:

The article — accompanied by a photo of a gaunt-looking Hudson — claimed her mother, Goldie Hawn, planned to confront her about her weight. Both Hudson and Hawn denied the claim. Smith said Hudson lost weight to get in shape for a film after giving birth to her son, Ryder, in January 2004. He said she took legal action over the magazine’s suggestion she had “recklessly and foolishly endangered her health” by failing to eat.

These are, I suppose, matters of fact. But the claim that one’s mother was worried about one’s weight, while perhaps falsifiable, is hardly something one would think would entitle one to damages.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Popular Culture,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    JJ, it appears that the tabloid settled out of court–the expression “libel damages” may’ve misled you, but the article says that the paper agreed to pay an undisclosed amount & print an apology, not that a court ordered same.

    Not sure if that makes any difference to your analysis. I think Hudson has sufficient reason to oppose any efforts to depict her as anorexic or whatever, particularly since such claims are often associated with drug use (cf. Lindsay Lohan).

    FTR, Hudson is definitely on my laminated list, whatever her weight.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Anderson: Yeah, fair point on settlement vs award. And true on the drug thing. One would just think that kind of crap is so par for the course for celebrities that she wouldn’t have bothered.

  3. John Burgess says:

    There’s also the potential for damage to her professional reputation. Eating disorders imply a certain lack of control, something producers and directors don’t want to have to deal with, if they can avoid it.

    A claim floating about that she was “difficult” could gravely influence casting decisions.

    Perhaps she’s persuing a “broken windows” campaign against scurrilous rumor-mongering. Let them get away with the piddly stuff and they’ll move right into the heavier slurs.

    And to belabor the cliche mill once again, she’s talking softly, but showing she knows how to use a big stick.

  4. Anderson says:

    And to belabor the cliche mill once again, sheâ??s talking softly, but showing she knows how to use a big stick.

    Kate in 2008!

    “We’ve Done Worse. In the Recent Past, No Less” could be one slogan.

  5. McGehee says:

    I dunno. ’92 and ’96 aren’t that recent.