Another Reason We'll Miss Leonard Nimoy: He Championed Full-Figured Women

In real life, Leonard Nimoy found it highly illogical that American women are bombarded with unattainable body images.
Feb 27, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

When actor Leonard Nimoy died at age 83 in Los Angeles on Friday, Star Trek tributes lit up the Internet like the starry skies his character Mr. Spock explored.

There's little doubt he'll be best remembered as the pointy-eared and highly logical half-Vulcan science officer who flanked Captain Kirk as they boldly went where no man had gone before.

But in the years since his 1966–69 run as the notoriously cool-blooded Spock, there was an issue Nimoy was very passionate about: women's body image.

In this 2008 interview on The Colbert Report, Nimoy challenges Stephen Colbert to think differently about the full-figured women he photographed for his book of nude photography, The Full Body Project.

A photo—one of the few fully clothed ones—taken as part of Leonard Nimoy's series 'The Full Body Project.' (Photo: Leonard Nimoy/Creative Commons)

“The standard is presented to us by the women who model the clothes that are being sold to the women in this country," Nimoy told Colbert. "The issue is this: The average woman in this country weighs 25 percent more than those models do, and they’ll never attain that body shape, so they’re being sold on the idea that they don’t look right."

Nimoy points out that there are entire industries that have succeeded by exploiting the insecurity that has developed in that 25 percent size gap. From weight loss pills to surgery, women are bombarded with invitations to buy their way out of their bodies—with few guarantees that any of it will work or proof of whether it's healthy. The shame and dysfunction that brings is something Nimoy disliked.

In real life, Nimoy may not have been a supernatural genius like Spock's character was, but his assertions are backed up by science. Brown University researchers have said that the difference between the ideal women we see and reality is not just "biologically unattainable for most people, but downright dangerous." The researchers cite Barbie as an example: If the famous blond doll were life-size, she'd be at 76 percent of healthy body weight and would require hospitalization.

By that standard, it doesn't feel like a stretch to imagine that Nimoy, like Spock, wanted American women to live long and prosper.