Reese Witherspoon reflects on ‘offensive’ magazine caricature that made her cry

Reese Witherspoon reflects on ‘offensive’ magazine caricature that made her cry
Big Little Lies star recently sold production company Hello Sunshine for reported $900m

Reese Witherspoon has reflected on an encounter with sexism that left her in tears at one point in her career as an actor-turned-entrepreneur.

The 45-year-old spoke candidly about the incident, which occurred in 2015 when Time magazine labelled her and other female actors “Domestic Divas” and turned them into caricatures, during an appearance on the We Are Supported By podcast with Kristen Bell and Monica Padman.

“I had started a clothing business and Gwyneth [Paltrow] was really growing Goop and Blake Lively had a business and Jessica Alba had a business, and they did a caricature cartoon of all of us,” the Legally Blonde star recalled. “We were in ballgowns and they’d stuck our heads on and Jessica was holding an iron and I was holding a vacuum cleaner.”

The caricature accompanied a Time magazine story titled: “Hollywood’s New Domestic Divas” and saw Witherspoon dressed in an apron over her gown, while Lively was depicted wearing an apron and holding a mixing bowl. The photo also saw Paltrow holding a cake and Lauren Conrad illustrated wearing rubber gloves and holding a bucket of cleaning products.

“The whole thing was so offensive that I burst into tears,” Witherspoon, the founder of female-led production company Hello Sunshine, continued.

The recollection prompted a response from Bell, who described the incident as “gross”, before asking: “Whose grandpa drew that?”

While Witherspoon said the publication later apologised, she was dismayed that the offensive caricature appeared in such a major publication, and as recently as 2015.

“It was in a massive publication, and I’ve since been in that publication, and they said sorry, but I’m not even talking about 10 years ago,” she said. “I’m talking about 2015 when we decided we’re going to be entrepreneurial, we were going to do something, take a swing, invest our own money, our own time, our reputation and try and do something that George Clooney has done, Robert De Niro has done, and getting lampooned for it.”

“That message to little girls is, if you’ve had success in one area, you can’t have success in another,” the Big Little Lies star continued. “I just think it’s so limiting. Media can be so punishing.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Witherspoon explained that she found her “purpose” through her production company, which she started in 2016, before acknowledging that one’s purpose changes and it is important to keep “progressing”.

“Starting to value women as creators, being able to tell their own stories in their own voices, I found my purpose,” she said. “I didn’t know what my purpose was – and your purpose changes too. You get older, and your purpose keeps changing. You have to keep iterating. You have to keep progressing.

“You have to look at new media and go: ‘Wait, is there a place for me to stand in a position of leadership here?’ Because I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I actually know a lot of stuff, and I really want to be helpful to the next generation of women, to my own generation of women who haven’t been well-served by our business.”

Earlier this month, Witherspoon sold Hello Sunshine, which has produced popular shows such as Big Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere, for a reported $900m.

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