Lovable bods

This lunchtime a friend sent me a link to this slide show from MSN Life & Style, showcasing the 10 Celebrity Body Shapes we Love. My friend thought I might appreciate the generous application of the word “curvy” in what he deemed an “insidious and dangerous” feature.


(Almost) all images from MSN Life & Style

Dangerous is the word. I worry greatly about the mixed messages high school girls (and younger) are getting about their bodies these days. Too thin = bad, too fat = wrong, Cheryl Cole = just right (but only now, after she and her girl-next-door, slimmer-than-average Girls Aloud bandmates were put on a strict diet and exercise regime that saw a steady weightloss for the few years after they first made it big…)


I will never understand why Dita is described as curvy. She wears a corset that gives her an 16 inch waist, yes, but she is the tiniest of women and there’s not an inch of flesh to her. This dress gives the impression of flesh, and I’ve no doubt that she has a naturally hourglass shape, but to hail her as a curvaceous role model is downright iresponsible. I adore her, but with its current connotations of voluptuousity, “curvy” is not a word she should ever be attributed.


Drew Barrymore was better when she was natural (as in Charlie’s Angels) – looks positively ill now regardless of what they say. Just look at her back!

Kate Kelly Scarlett

Kate, Kelly and Scarlett are three of my favourite ladies ever – Kate for finding a happy medium, Kelly for being just “as is and ever was” and Scarlett for being the woman I’d kill to look like! But none of them is a particularly accessible role model for body confidence. They have found a way to be accepted into the Hollywood norm despite being larger (except in teeny Ms Johansson’s case)  than your size 2 average starlet, and for managing that within the existing constraints they are praise-worthy. But every single one would look extraordinarily slim standing alongside your average-sized British (or American) woman. I’m not saying we (average-sized women collectively, as a nation) couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds for our health’s sake, but to label any of these celebs as curvy is plain ridiculous.


Now, to get onto a favourite subject of mine, Christina Hendricks (conspicuous by her absence in this list) is a different matter. I’ll be interested to see whether she eventually bows to pressure, but have great expectations of her sticking to her guns and staying plus size. She had roles when she was slimmer that didn’t take off as Joan Holloway has, so her shape has become part of her brand image. The Hollywood climate has been softened by the aforementioned not-actually-all-that-curvy women with their happy mediums, complemented by the endless documentaries and makeover shows that have aclimatised us to shaplier forms. And she’s arrived at the right moment economically too: as she hit right around crunch time, the concept of “plenty” she epitomises has become aspirational in a way that only our subconscious can explain.


9 thoughts on “Lovable bods

  1. Another actress (although admittedly less famous) is Miracle Laurie (Dollhouse). She is a knock-out and most definitely curvy rather than Hollywood Curvy. I think they like to apply the term curvy to anyone with boobs, regardless of the size of their bum/legs etc. That’s the only explanation I can think of for Dita being labelled as curvy.

    • I still haven’t quite got around to Dollhouse – I’m waiting for a night in with a glass or two of wine to really enjoy it – but I’ll look out for her when I do! 😀

  2. the editors should be spanked
    There’s just no excuse for this
    There are so many people out there they could have included
    starlets are like sand on the beach

  3. This kind of article really makes my blood boil. These kinds of lists are so hateful towards women. What I really cannot stand is how they purport to be pro-women, all ‘look at us, we’re promoting a healthy body image’ but really, by separating these women out, it’s making freaks of them. And, like you rightly pointed out Caroline, these women are still a good deal smaller than either the UK or US average. What upsets me the most, I think, is the way in which the media has appropriated womens bodies, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to comment on them publicly in whatever way, you know? Men’s bodies aren’t public property in this way. This is something I have been feeling more and more strongly about as I get older, but I hate that we are publicly consumed, all the time, in a way that men simply aren’t. It’s encouraging women to hate themselves, and I hate it. Thank you for another thought-provoking post, Caroline!

    • Thank you for a thought provoking comment Roisin! Everything we are told these days encourages us to hate ourselves, whether because we’re not the right shape, haven’t the right personality traits, don’t read the right books or watch the right television or eat the right food… the list goes on.

      I think men’s bodies are increasingly becoming public property. I remember reading or hearing an interview with the actor who plays Sawyer in Lost, saying that Brad Pitt’s stomach had ruined it for the rest of the male population – it was impossible to compete. This reeks to me of men moving in the same self-loathing direction.

      • You’re absolutely right, of course. There is definitely a movement towards criticising men’s bodies in the same way. And I think I got myself a bit off topic in my last comment by focusing too much on the women side of it. But it does make me very sad, and very angry, that we are constantly being encouraged to loathe our bodies, and to loathe those of people in the public eye as well. And what is so maddening is that it is being sold to us as something empowering. We’re meant to feel empowered because Charlotte Church gets a sweat mark, or because Dita Von Teese has a ‘normal’ shape. It’s sickening. And and I don’t think it’s even really to do with the fetishisation of thinness, I think it is more about encouraging people to always want something different to what they’ve got, you know? And I hate that magazines like Heat think that it’s okay to put a picture of a thin celebrity on the cover and say that she’s too thin, and that she’s a bad role model. Her body shape is her business, and the only people promoting thinness are the media and the beauty industry, not some poor half-starved, self-hating starlet.

        Whew…more bile there. Seriously though, I’m a pretty upbeat person normally, but this is something that turns me into She Hulk!

  4. I’m totally behind what you and Roisin say. Drew Barrymore has long been an icon of mine, with a stunning figure and quirky personality and it’s a little disturbing to see her looking scarily tiny and delicate in your photo.

    Jesus, what’s it going to take to make people see straight – will celebrities actually have to starve themselves to death in the limelight for people to see that it’s just not healthy to be so thin.

    • Isn’t that what celebrities do already to get our attention – starve themselves until they’re deemed skinny enough to be real “stars”? Take Nicole Richie for example. She was C list famous for being Paris Hilton’s best friend, but since slimming down (or rather, skinnying up) she’s become an A lister. The woman has never acted in her life, but she’s regularly seen at red carpet events since she’s tiny enough to fit in/show off designer dresses.

      Reading that back I realise how much like a dog show the red carpet really is these days. It makes me rather sad.

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