Jaime King is here for women. When it comes to finding the right balance between work life, home life and caring for oneself, working on projects that speak uniquely to issues women face or even pointing out harmful comments in an attempt to get others to see that it’s not right, King has made it her personal mission to dispel the negativity aimed at women and lift herself and other women up in the process. Sure, she may not do it perfectly or she may not feel like she’s getting it right 100 percent of the time, but she’s human; it happens. Regardless of this, it’s clear from the work she does on camera and the way she lets us into her world on social media that her voice is strong and clear and yes, she’s here to lift all women up.
This idea became increasingly clear when King sat down with SheKnows in person to speak about her new film, Bitch (it’s in theaters now!). In the film, King plays the sister of the film’s protagonist, a wife and mother who snaps under the pressures of motherhood and soon begins acting like a vicious dog. The film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is a darkly comic look at what happens when one woman’s psyche is finally torn apart as the expectations of her gender roles grow too heavy to bear. For King, the message and themes of Bitch are incredibly important, especially as they relate to the unique issues women of today face.
“When Marianna [Palka, the film’s director] wrote Bitch and how timely it was, it wasn’t like we were trying to put out this thing that has this very left message or feminist message. It’s a holistic film about love. It’s really pro-family,” King explained. She continued, “That’s [what it’s] really about, really looking at ourselves by taking that word, bitch, and they hear that title and they’re like, ‘Are you the bitch?’ and I’m like, ‘That’s why it’s a great title’ because of course, they think that’s the ultimate insult. One of the women in the film has to be a bitch. And so, it’s so fascinating to see, between the first act and the end, to see this guy, his transformation, that we can all relate to.”
But Bitch is not the first time King has had to interact with barbed words directed at her or about her gender and find a way to nullify them. It becomes clear while talking with her that King is uniquely aware of her position in the entertainment industry as a model, actor, wife, mother and woman. All roles subject her to an unfair amount of scrutiny and frequently that takes the form of body-shaming comments.
At one point in our chat with King, she recalled when those body-shaming comments, the easiest barbs for the public to throw, really got under her skin. It began with the unveiling of her new collaboration with the fashion line For Love and Lemons.
“The other day, I posted this video of this collection I worked on for two years. It’s a collaboration with For Love and Lemons and I’m so excited about it and I wanted to collaborate. I’ve had this dream since I was 18. I’ve always wanted to create a collection for every race and every size because growing up in the fashion industry, I would see all of my black girlfriends and all of my girlfriends of color always struggling with things, things that people would never get […] not to mention bigotry and discrimination,” King explained.
She continued, describing how her own changing body influenced the collection as well as her aforementioned concerns with creating something for women of all races. “I remember when I turned 18, all of a sudden I had a completely different body, and then in my 20s, I was 60 pounds heavier (I had endometriosis that was undiagnosed), and it was like, I wanted to create this collection that was for every single woman. I was adamant about it.”
But as soon as King posted the video online, instead of seeing celebratory comments, she was met with criticisms about her own appearance. What should have been an exciting time for her was undercut by the negativity pouring out from others. “So as soon as I posted this video of myself in full-brief underwear and this little top, [the commenters are] like, ‘You’re anorexic. You need to get help. You need to eat a cheeseburger. This is disgusting. You’re unhealthy. This would never fit a size 6,'” she said. “It was like someone just took a dagger.”
King’s reaction was, of course, understandable given the criticism; it hurt and it hurt her deeply. “I was just like, isn’t it interesting that I spent two years and half of my life dreaming of making a collection for everybody and the first thing people are doing is judging that I’m too thin, that I’m ugly. I’m too skinny, that I’m promoting something that’s unhealthy when I do yoga every day or when my diseases actually affect my body weight.”
And here, it becomes clear King wants people to take a step back and hopefully see that the words they use carry weight and meaning, and often they are used to talk about a person or situation they know nothing about. “The way that these autoimmune diseases — the endometriosis, the PCOS that I have — the way that it burns the calories in my body and the way that I eat […] it’s like I can’t win. Like I was called ‘fat’ when I was [one] weight and ‘too skinny’ when I was at this weight. It doesn’t matter who you are, that hurts,” she told SheKnows.
“It’s just really interesting to see what happens when you live in your authenticity. It’s not easy to be living in your authenticity all the time or to be as outspoken as I am because I don’t feel like I’m the first person to speak out about these things,” she notes.
And whenever she gets too worried about speaking up or being honest and real with others, she reminds herself of this one very true thing: “I’m like, ‘There’s a reason why I’m saying it in the first place. There’s a reason why I’m saying it, and it’s because I don’t want people to feel alone in this world.”
Go see Bitch for yourself in a theater near you!