If I hear another blogger/author/interviewer comment on Christina Hendricks’ weight I might lose it. As if her body (omg BOOBS) wasn’t enough of a focus already, now she is being picked apart for her appearance at the Golden Globes the other night. As you may have seen by now, Cathy Horyn fromThe New York Times claimed that “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress” and ran this (distorted) photo of Hendricks:
WTF? First of all, it would be fabulous to live in a world where a woman’s weight just didn’t matter to the media. Second, since we don’t live in a world like that, it would be great if the media would stop calling women fat when they AREN’T FAT. Since Plus-Sized models wear a size 10 (according to my ANTM research) I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise. It does, however, piss me off. Christina Hendricks should be recognized for something other than her body (you know, like her acting talent, since she is an actor), no matter what she looks like.
Oh, and in a piece called “Why everyone’s talking about Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks” at Times Online we get even more insight into why we should pay attention to the woman who plays Joan Holloway:
The character everyone talks about now is Joan, and they all do it in the same way, raising their hands to their chests in the shape of melons, saying: “Oh, my God! Do you mean the curvy redhead with the big…?” And if they’re women, also saying, “I think I’m a lesbian.”
Now I’ll admit here that I love Joan. And, I love her body and the fact that she has boobs and a butt and hasn’t been kicked off the show as a punishment for this fact. However, this focus on Hendricks’ weight/figure is problematic for a number of reasons. To start with, as previously mentioned, Hendricks is not fat. Calling her fat (or whatever other euphemism is being used to mean fat) resets the Hollywood fat scale and makes anyone who is larger than Hendricks, both within and outside of the entertainment industry, feel the pressure of even more weight-based scrutiny. We all feel bad enough already, thanks.
Another reason why this body-policing is bogus is that it reduces Hendricks to just that: a body. She is a talented actress who was not hired for her body but for her considerable talent. She is not some kind of weird anomaly, a large woman who squeezed through the showbiz cracks and got lucky working at a show that didn’t force her to lose weight. She does a fantastic job playing Joan Holloway, and the media focus should be on her talents (at least some of the time, please).
Of course, these discussions of Hendricks’ appearance are allowed to exist because the entertainment industry itself is preoccupied with discussions of women’s weight and appearance. As feminists, we know that this is bullshit, and that praising a show for allowing a “fat” woman to appear on screen isn’t progress. When actual fat women are accepted by the media without comments about their weight, and when talented actors are recognized for their talent and not their cup size, then we’ll have progress.
Until then, leave Joan Holloway’s body alone!