Ahh, Christina Hendricks. Regular readers will know how I feel about this woman. She is my greatest ever girl crush, the woman I would like to emulate in every way, and my personal ideal of feminine perfection. If images don’t do it for you, just watch a couple of episodes of Mad Men – hell, just watch a couple of scenes – and catch a whiff of her presence. You can’t help but appreciate this woman’s charm(s).
I’m sure many Brits will have read over the past couple of days about equalities minister Lynne Featherstone’s suggestion that we tackle young women’s body issues head on. She is appealing for a ban of size zero photoshoots, which I approve of. She is appealing for images in magazines and on TV to be kitemarked against airbrushing, and for them to feature a disclosure wherever airbrushing has taken place, which I approve of. And she is suggesting that every woman aspire to look like Christina, with a healthy hourglass figure.
Talk about chucking the baby out with the bathwater!
Seriously, ladies, we are never going to really get on top of women’s body issues until we accept that there is no ideal, no perfection, that is not personal. Attraction is always directly affected by personal tastes. It is true that the cultural “leaders” of any era have influence over the widely accepted abstract of “beauty”, but at the end of the day they hold no sway over day-to-day life and relationships, and they won’t stop me thinking certain curvy or petite or big-bottomed or flat-chested women of my acquaintance to be absolute stunners. The old “eye of the beholder” proverb holds true.
More to the point, Christina Hendricks is an hourglass. Do you know how few women are actual, real, living hourglass shapes? How many women’s busts and hips balance exactly while their waist hits that 70% target of perfection? The last time the hourglass was in fashion women near-crippled themselves in corsetry and girdling, tightening their lacing and reshaping their bodies until their internal organs began to shift position! Does that sound healthy to you?
We’re British – as a nation we’re regularly recognised as pear shaped. This, is actually just as healthy a shape to be – as extra fat is carried on the thighs and bottom and therefore not around the organs – but isn’t acknowledged as quite so aesthetically pleasing. And call me naive, but I cannot imagine any young girl stuffing her face in order to attain Hendricks’ thighs…
Yet I can imagine them yearning for a boob job to try to attain that helium-balloon bust. I can imagine young girls in their teens breaking their hearts over their under-developed breasts, begging their parents for cosmetic surgery to move one step closer to hourglass perfection. That is a scary, scary thought.
(My GOD that woman’s cleavage is practically supernatural in it’s immensity.)
The point is that the focus should not be on an appearance of perfection, an ideal to aim for, but a goal of good health. Replacing one apparently impossible ideal with another is not going to fix women’s body issues, issues which, in their extreme form, are generally not even that closely linked to attaining physical perfection in the first place, but to far more complex psychological complications. What we should be doing is celebrating our bodies whatever their shape, and looking at improving them where our abilities are limited by, for example, obesity. We should be awed by what our bodies can do, the astonishing things they can accomplish, the unbelievable way they heal, how we can use them to express ourselves. They’re darned amazing things when you look at them that way!