Angelina Jolie and Plumpy’nut

The Oscars put on quite a show, as usual last night. The irony of a millionaire mega superstar actress who devotes her time to the starving children of Africa looking like she is malnurished made my stomach churn.


After the thoughts about how sad our culture is elevating the idea that thin and skinny are the ultimate goal in life I began to think about Plumpy'nut. Do you know what it is?

Plumpy-nut-bigPlumpy'nut is a Ready-to-Use Theraputic Food (RUTF) that treats severe malnutrition in the third world. It is an amazing peanut based product that, simply put, saves lives. The first time I saw photos of Plumpy'nut success was on Renee's blog. See the pictures of how it works yourself. Quite honestly a product that prevents kids and adults from dying. Taking those on death's door and turning what was a certain death into a chance at life. 

There has been a legal battle over the patent rights to the product. A French company, Nutriset, holds the formula rights and has blocked NGO's and foreign companies from developing a cheaper product and distributing it among third world nations. Until recently it was difficult to come by but, according to Nutriset there are many small companies in a few African nations that are now producing the product. Let's hope this means it is more readily available. You can read more about the legal battle here

My internal angst about our culture's worship of "skinny" juxtapose to my intense concern over the living and dying conditions in many countries around the world leaves me almost speechless. Almost. 

I posted on facebook and twitter that I wanted to send Angelina home with some Plumpy'nut. It felt funny at the time. But malnutrition and the state of the culture we live in just aren't that funny.

How does it all sit with you?


  1. says

    I agree, she looks terrible. Far too thin. As a mother of three young girls it concerns me too. Having said that, I rather like your idea of sending her home with Plumpy’nut!

  2. says

    It might be worth pointing out that some people are just thin. They may be trying to gain weight. I’ve no idea what Angelina’s thinness is due to, but I look similarly thin and have tried for years to gain weight. I’ve been to various doctors, downed weight gaining drinks, was diagnosed with Celiac and went gluten free two years ago, and still weigh less than I did in high school (after having two kids). I do feel embarrassed to wear a bathing suit or shorts in public because I am well aware that some people will look at me and be critical. People do make comments. I find it odd that it’s not okay to criticize someone overweight, but okay to criticize someone underweight. Maybe we should all just focus on being healthy and quit jumping to conclusions and being critical of others.

  3. says

    You make a good point. I actually debated whether or not to include her photo and name at all. I certainly don't know her situation and I'm not intending to judge her personally just make a socially commentary. I'm definitely more concerned with malnutrition and starvation than Hollywood and our culture. Living where I do I see the thin worship constantly and the damage it does to women and girls (men too) so its in my thoughts a lot. Good or bad. I did not intend to hurt you, or anyone in your situation. I'm truly sorry if I have. As a public figure Angelina Jolie certainly deserves her privacy with any diseases or ailments she may have, if this is the case.

  4. says

    I completely agree with you on society’s values regarding appearance. I also understand that using a picture of Angeline Jolie will get more people to read the post. I just get tired of reading articles and comments that never consider that some (maybe just a small minority) of thin people can’t help it. Maybe Angelina is one of those? The countries she travels to have many illnesses that take the weight off (as I know from personal experience). I think we should all focus on health and not appearance, though I do understand the value of a picture. In any case, I’m not personally offended, just trying to point out another part of a complex issue.

  5. Shari says

    Our focus should be on sustaining a healthy life style. Have you read studies about how much more likely you are to carry weight if you sit more than 6 hours a day? Angelina Jolie is thin but she doesn’t appear to be unhealthy. I can only imagine with her schedule and family commitments that she rarely sits!

  6. Danna says

    I, too, am concerned by both the idealization of a certain body type by our culture and by the pressing needs of so many people in the world (starvation and malnutrition being just two of a plethora of issues).
    Other commenters have pointed out that we do not know anything about Jolie’s lifestyle or potential illnesses. My concern is that in saying that she must be unhealthy in some way based on her size is a presumption that is rarely questioned in our society.
    As someone who is fat, I would prefer that people not make judgments about anyone based on how they look. It doesn’t matter if someone eats a cake a day or a head of iceberg lettuce as far as my treatment of them goes. Everyone is a person with inherent worth and deserves to be treated that way. I have recently come across Health At Every Size (HAES) and have begun to reprogram myself to focus on what makes me feel better, not what other people think of me, as the basis for my behavior. If Jolie is anorexic, it makes it that much more difficult for her to seek treatment because it will be the talk of everyone. How does that serve the greater good?
    I appreciate your devotion to food issues in the developing world and that you see a connection with messages that our culture sends us. I believe the best way to proceed is to try to destigmatize every health and size issue. Humanizing everyone is the only way to begin to address many issues our world faces.

  7. says

    Thank you for your comment Danna. I agree with you on many of your points but must disagree again that any size is healthy. As the previous commenter pointed out, there are illnesses that prevent weight gain (worms & diseases) and I do truly hope Jolie is able to receive help if that is what she faces. True though that we should still eat one another with respect. If Jolie wasn't a public figure putting herself into the spotlight while also fighting against starvation in the world I wouldn't have brought up the irony of her weight. 

  8. jo says

    Don’t third world kids suffer from nut allergies?We shut down canteens, ban other kids from eating nutty food but happi;y send plane loads of the stuff to starving kids in Africa and would bitterly complain if they rejected our gifts. They reject all US GMo food.
    Beggars aren’t allowed to be choosers?

  9. says

    Nut allergies are not prevalent in Africa like here. However, there is a soy based product called plumpy'soy. And Plumpy'nut isn't a food source. It's a last ditch way to prevent dying. Even then, most of the people who starve to death do not have access to this product. Choosing to not eat something because of the ingredients is a first world problem.

  10. says

    I believe the best way to proceed is to try to destigmatize every health and size issue. Humanizing everyone is the only way to begin to address many issues our world faces..

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