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Is Joan on 'Mad Men' too plump for primetime?

September 4, 2008 |  8:21 am

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When celery stalk stylist Rachel Zoe agrees to be resized and Photoshopped from a size 0 to a size 8 for a magazine spread,  you know curves must be in vogue. (Or in  Harper's Bazaar, which is where Zoe appeared retouched as a normal and healthy gal about town in six-inch heels and a $5,000 dress.) In the article, the stylist says:

"Truthfully, I've never seen myself as being too thin. Sometimes I'll look at photos and be like, Oh, that's not a good look. But generally speaking, I'm not too thin."

Er, OK. FYI: When you can flatten yourself and slide underneath a door, you're too thin. Zoe goes on to say that she enjoyed having curves for the story. Not so much that she's over at Astro Burger right now, mind you.

Christina_amyg_55345519_600_5 With or without Zoe, curves are definitely making a comeback. Christina Hendricks as Joan on "Mad Men" (left) could singlehandedly bring back hips. Real hips. The kind that will send a skinny man skittering across a dance floor. And I must admit that my jaw still drops when she sashays on screen with a rump as big as a holiday ham. My first reaction is always: She's huge! What a silly reaction to a woman who is probably a size 8 or 10. 

Then I realize that most leading women on TV, such as Holly Hunter and Teri Hatcher, are  pipe cleaners, and so I never expect to see prime-time zaftig. It's as odd to me as a virgin martini.  Frankly, I am so accustomed to seeing protruding hipbones that I have to adjust my own visual definition of what is womanly. That's pretty screwed up, in fact.

Even models are tired of maintaining those sharp clavicles. In Vogue this month, Karen Elson admits that she took laxatives to stay whippet svelte and blames the fashion industry for imposing such thin measures. Kate Moss told the Guardian last week that she realized at one point, while standing in a bathtub, that she was too skinny. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has erected booths at Fashion Week in New York to spread the word on eating disorders and promote healthy living. Hmm. Why do I suspect that the Moet booth will be mobbed and the bulimia booths will be empty?

Maybe the Emmys can do the same and erect a few eating disorder booths on the red carpet?

Let's face it: The fashion industry will never embrace models who are a size 8. But actresses like Hendricks, Scarlett Johansson and even Liv Tyler do make a case for a new, womanly ideal.  But are you brainwashed too? Do you look at Christina Hendricks and think "sexpot," or "portly"?

Weigh in. -- Monica Corcoran

1127001115_bakedholidayhamwithcranb For the record: I thought I made it clear that my skewed perception of Hendricks as "big" was silly and it bothered me. The female ideal we see on TV is extremely thin and Hendricks is a rarity on prime-time. Perhaps I should have also mentioned that I think she's sexy and refreshingly bold and downright gorgeous. Oh and as for comparing her rump to a holiday ham, take a look at this ham and tell me that her behind isn't as shapely. Most actresses these days have no backside at all. I'll take a ham over an empty plate any day.

photos: Kurt Iswarienko for Harper's Bazaar; WireImage; ham, Publications Intl Ltd.

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