Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lady Parade

No recipe on this one (unless you want to know how I made a really good shrimp sandwich for lunch). I just wanted to share some flotsam floating in my brain about what I've seen as a changed standard for women in the entertainment industry.

Back in the 1990's, it really can't be argued that the Hollywood standard for an actress was someone who was ultra-ultra-skinny. Skinny no-boobs and no-butt kind of skinny. Otherwise tiny but women-shaped actresses like Jennifer Lopez were singled out for having atypical physiques; Kate Winslet was even called "fat", a "cow" and "Kate Weighs-a-lot" for daring to not be the size of a toothpick with feet when she appeared in Titanic (even though her figure was spot-on for the time period portrayed in the movie). The 1990's also allowed for some counter-culture to the ultra-skinny female, with the mainstream introduction of the plus-size model, but by and large, the women on Ally McBeal set the damn standard and suddenly skeletal was the ideal body shape.

I've noticed a definite softening of this trend as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Women in mainstream media look rounder and softer; Jennifer Lopez probably can be credited with giving the butt and hips region the attention it deserved, but it definitely is somewhat heartening to know that women are now going for butt implant surgery as well as liposuction. What a world, where surgery can make you skinnier and yet plumper wherever you specifically want it? Seriously.

I was having a conversation with the VIP about this and it made me pretty happy. I don't think mainstream entertainment media is really ever going to full-on embrace women who aren't skinnier than the national average, but at least I can name at least 10 mainstream actresses who totally break the 1990's Hollywood mold (Christina Hendricks should count for 2 of those actresses - seriously, do a GIS and you'll see why. Bring a mop to wipe up your drool. Gazonga.)

Anyway, I guess there's really no point to this. Obviously trends in "ideal female shape" come and go. It can be debated whether or not this is even a moral or feminist or modern idea to acknowledge, but Ph.D in Women's Studies arguments aside, the "female gaze" exists and always has and is why cavemen drew ladies alongside buffalo and mastadons and other things they wanted to have in their lives, and why fashion exists, and why movies exist, and why Britney Spears inexplicably has a singing career.

I'm just happy to see that as all the dust and dirt of the 1990's begins to completely cleanse itself from our collective psyches, so goes the twig-thin entertainment ideal of female body beauty. There is always going to be a visual ideal; I'm not annoying enough to try to fight that standard. I'm just glad its a slightly more healthy ideal than it has been in the past. Of course, as all trends, this one will wax and then wane, and some skeletal starlet will ratchet the trend back in again. For now though I am happy that the actresses I see on TV are just slightly more relateable, more healthy looking, and good God, Christina Hendricks. That is all.

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