Fed-up actress leads fightback against media obsession with 'skinny' stars

The Hollywood actress Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn, is taking legal action against five publications for publishing pictures of her accompanied by articles suggesting that she was suffering from an eating disorder, which she denies.

The 26-year-old star of Almost Famous and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days is complaining about a set of photographs that were published in several high-profile newspapers and magazines in September and October.

The publications, including Heat, Closer, The National Enquirer, Star magazine and the Daily Mail have been given seven days to respond to the complaint, after which Ms Hudson has instructed the London law firm Schillings to issue writs against them. If the case is not settled, it is expected to go to jury trial at the High Court in London next year. Schillings said the images were "used to accompany and illustrate articles which suggested that she had an eating disorder that was so grave and serious that she was wasting away to the extreme concern of her mother and family".

The law firm added that the pictures could also be "of commercial and artistic concern to those who might cast her in movies and choose to use her image to endorse products".

Ms Hudson will argue in court that "the images in question gave a seriously false and misleading impression as to her true physical condition, in that she was portrayed as being dangerously thin with an eating disorder, which is contrary to the true position of her weight and diet being of a healthy nature, both at the time of the images being taken and at present".

An analysis of how the photographs came to be taken, sold and published will form part of the case. Schillings will argue that the main image in question was stretched, making Ms Hudson appear thinner than she really is, although there is no suggestion that the photograph was altered deliberately.

The coverage of Ms Hudson is far from unique. Splashed across the cover of the latest issue of Heat are "truly shocking skinny pics" of Kate Lawler, the winner of the third series of Big Brother, in which her ribcage can be seen prominently. "BB star is a walking skeleton," the magazine proclaimed.

Last month, Heat featured pictures of a thin-looking Claudia Schiffer and Sophie Dahl on its cover, asking: "Are these models starving themselves?"

It is a long-running theme for the magazine, which earlier this year published a definitive list of "20 skinniest celebrities". Nicole Kidman, Victoria Beckham, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Terri Hatcher, Lindsay Lohan and Nicky Hilton have all been pilloried for their super-thin figures.

Janice Turner, former editor of Real magazine, believes celebrity titles are targeting skinny women because it is no longer acceptable to criticise someone for being overweight.

She said: "They used to say so and so was a bit fat. They've realised it's against the spirit of trying to overcome eating disorders, but they can say someone is thin. Readers love looking at other women's bodies and comparing their own bodies to celebrities' bodies.

"It's quite pleasing to see how unattractive it looks in reality when somebody is that thin. Readers will think, 'I'll have that other Twix bar, it doesn't matter.'"

But Ms Turner also believes that Heat and its rivals are lifting the lid on a dangerous trend that requires actresses to remain stick thin. "There is a demand for celebrities to be very thin if the camera puts 10 pounds on. There's something really nasty going on in Hollywood," she said.

Mark Frith, the editor of Heat magazine, said he could not comment on an ongoing legal matter.