Just When You Thought ‘Shallow Hal’ Couldn’t Get Any Worse, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Body Double Started Talking
No one ever asked for another reason to never re-watch Shallow Hal, but, well, here it is.
The concept of the Farrelly Brothers and Jack Black’s cursed collaboration is pretty straightforward and unobjectionable. “What if our outer beauty always reflected our inner beauty?” sounds, dare I say it, almost wholesome? It’s not a particularly original notion — none of the themes involved in the idea are missing from Beauty and the Beast, after all — but it’s not an inherently awful one either. That awfulness was saved for the execution.
In the film, Black plays an unsuccessful and superficial lady’s man who is hypnotized by Tony Robbins to only see women’s inner beauty. He lays eyes on Gwyneth Paltrow in a giant fat suit and sees, well, normal Gwyneth Paltrow, leading him to engage her in an outrageously unfunny courtship and relationship that coasted to $140 million at the box office and 48 percent on Metacritic. However, not everyone reaped the rewards of Shallow Hal’s unlikely and, honestly, undeserved success — Ivy Snitzer, Paltrow’s plus-sized body double in the film, says the blowback she received for playing the part nearly killed her.
To be clear, Snitzer isn’t accusing Paltrow, Black, the Farrelly Brothers or anyone else involved in the making of Shallow Hal of any inappropriate or disparaging behavior; in her recent interview in The Guardian Snitzer said that she was “treated like I mattered” and felt “really comfortable” on set. The problems arose after the film premiered when, predictably, the public reacted to the portrayal of an overweight woman as anything other than a hideous monster with absolute scorn.
In a promotional interview shortly before the Shallow Hal release, Snitzer off-handedly commented, “It is not the worst thing in the world to be fat.” Shortly thereafter, she says, people started approaching her in the street to scold her for the message, and one person even found her home address and sent her diet pills in the mail. “I got really scared,” Snitzer said. “I was like, maybe I’m done with the concept of fame, maybe I don’t want to be an actor. Maybe I’ll do something else.”
In reaction to the anonymous bullying she received, Snitzer resolved to slim down to appease her tormenters. She underwent gastric band surgery to restrict the amount of food she could physically eat and began an obsessive exercise regimen to burn calories. The combination of the two led to her gastric band slipping out, causing a serious health emergency. “I got a torsion — like dogs get and then die,” Snitzer explained.
Thankfully, Snitzer survived the ordeal and came to terms with how her extreme weight-loss goals were killing her. Today, Snitzer fears that the film may encourage other overweight women to undergo drastic measures to fix their bodies, but Snitzer herself has found her happy medium. “I found a lot of stability in between the two extremes,” she said of both her obesity and her bout with eating disorders.
On the topic of Shallow Hal's legacy, Snitzer said she’s “not going to run out and rewatch it.” Neither is anyone else — but for very different reasons.