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From Famine To Feast
A slideshow of Hollywood curves. An excerpt from the accompanying article, "Fat Is Back," by Holly Millea:

“The curve,” Mae West observed, “is more powerful than the sword.” Measuring 38-24-38, the five-foot-one sex goddess spoke from experience—lots of it. West’s bodacious successors—women like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Drew Barrymore, Rachel Weisz, and Kate Winslet, who hold fast to their cushioned curves even as their peers downsize more aggressively than General Motors—understand that maxim. Their faminista sisters do not. Now, the bigger-(relatively speaking)-is-better argument could easily be made with logic. But a growing faction of actresses who appear to have a healthy relationship with carbohydrates are making the point better than any polemicizing ever could. Line Hollywood’s wispy players up next to the lush likes of Scarlett Johansson, Lost siren Evangeline Lilly, Liv Tyler, Big Love star Ginnifer Goodwin, and an increasingly curvy Mandy Moore. Who would you rather slow-dance with? Seriously, would you prefer to get a Grey’s Anatomy lesson from an hourglassed Katherine Heigl or a reedy Ellen Pompeo? Nicole Richie or Nicole Richie at 50 percent off? Madonna “Like a Virgin” or Madonna “Hung Up” on Yogilates? Here’s a one-woman argument for roundness: Gretchen Mol. After going virtually unnoticed in some 20 films, the cherubic starlet put on a few pounds, took off her clothes, and gave a breakout performance as the world’s most famous pinup in The Notorious Bettie Page.

“The pinups didn’t have ‘perfect’ bodies. They didn’t go to the gym. They did Jack LaLanne exercises, those lazy leg lifts,” says Mary Harron, the biopic’s cowriter and director. “It was a more forgiving era. I think constant dieting makes people crazy. It gives them this strained look.”

What the old pinups didn't have either is food with the fat sucked out of it, and loads of sugar added. I learned how to eat from going to France -- small portions of really high quality, high-nutrient food, no fat-removed food, not a lot of bread, and a scoop of rich chocolate ice cream daily. I only keep a scale so I can weigh my luggage before I go to the airport. But, I do have a thing for crime shows, and I have a rule: TV must be watched, at least in part, while peddling on my dual-action exercise bike. "Panting to Peterson," you could call it (William Peterson of CSI, that is -- The Thinking Woman's Bimbo).

And speaking of glamorous curves, here's my Swiss-Italian friend Claudia Laffranchi, hosting the Locarno film festival.

Posted by aalkon at September 6, 2006 10:21 AM

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Comments

My current female friend is VERY curvy! And not fat either...even though you'd be hard pressed to convince HER of that. Have seen her bulky and super skinny....i really prefer her with more cush....she's blessed with this freaky thing where when she gains weight, it all goes to her ass and tits....

Posted by: Rob at September 6, 2006 6:42 AM

Thank you for not confusing curves with fat. I was getting to the point of putting curvy right next to big-boned, robust, giant, etc...

Curvy is curvy. Curvy is also beautiful.

Posted by: Curls n Curves at September 6, 2006 8:25 AM

Gretchen Mol has THE best rack ever in that Page biopic. It's worth watching for that alone (were we watching it for any other reason?).

Posted by: amh18057 at September 6, 2006 8:33 AM

Amen, curves do not equal fat. Men, most of 'em, do indeed like curves, especially in the tuchis. The only people I ever heard complaining that Jennifer Lopez's ass was too big were women, while men were saying, "Too fine, maybe, but ain't too big." The beanpole dames in the magazines (to quote Sir Mix-a-Lot) are put there by gay men, or other women, and no straight man in the history of civilization has held up a copy of Elle, or Vogue, and said, "Honey, I'd be so happy if you looked like this..."
The whole 'perfect bodies' thing is bogus, perfect to who? Whom? Not heterosexual men in general. My vote goes towards the bodies on the US Womens' soccer team. Brandy Chastain, my little swamp cabbage...
Jack LaLanne's show was before my time, so can't comment on how 'lazy' it was, but what he gave to his personal training clients and did himself most certainly was not.

Posted by: cat brother at September 6, 2006 9:06 AM

Data I've read shows that men prefer women rounder than women think. That said, far too many people in America are fat. People blather on about how Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14. Yes, but that was a "back then" size 14. I sometimes wear a 12 in vintage clothes. If I go to the Limited (which I don't -- I also learned from going to France to buy one beautiful piece of clothing,not lots of pieces of crap) ...anyway, at the Limited or stores like it, I wear...a 1 or a zero! And I'm curvy, not skinny, not fat.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 6, 2006 9:13 AM

Angelina Jolie's another example that comes to mind. Not-huge boobs (Wonderbra enhanced in some movies), muscular arms, big round ass, fairly round face (you have to rent 'Hackers' to appreciate how moon-y it is), and pretty much every straight man on earth, and apparently a lot of straight women, would run thru fire to get up in her good stuff. Choice between her and Calista Flockhart? Don't make me laugh.
When ever I see 'perfect bodies' in quotation marks, it usually means someone's going to set up an ultra-thin straw (wo)man ("...and this picture of a Biafran famine victim shows us the kind of body Our Culture is telling us we should have...") followed by a plea to see the beauty of 30% bodyfat. The writer then goes home to fantasize about David Beckham, not Drew Carey.

Posted by: cat brother at September 6, 2006 9:38 AM

It's absolutely ludicrous that anyone could get away with referring to any of the above-mentioned women as "fat." A few years ago I was watching an old western with Jayne Mansfield or one of those other blonde bombshells prancing around in a saloongirl (or a 1950's version of a saloon girl) costume. She was thin and leggy, but also with quite visible cellulite, which didn't used to be considered a crime against humanity, just normal female flesh.

I have a friend who works in casting for TV and movies, and she's told me that even if an actress starts out at a thin-but-non-emaciated size, they are almost always pressured to "lose just a few pounds for the camera" by producers, directors or stylists. It's no wonder that so many actresses end up looking skeletal.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 6, 2006 12:02 PM

It's absolutely ludicrous that anyone could get away with referring to any of the above-mentioned women as "fat." A few years ago I was watching an old western with Jayne Mansfield or one of those other blonde bombshells prancing around in a saloongirl (or a 1950's version of a saloon girl) costume. She was thin and leggy, but also with quite visible cellulite, which didn't used to be considered a crime against humanity, just normal female flesh.

I have a friend who works in casting for TV and movies, and she's told me that even if an actress starts out at a thin-but-non-emaciated size, they are almost always pressured to "lose just a few pounds for the camera" by producers, directors or stylists. It's no wonder that so many actresses end up looking skeletal.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 6, 2006 12:06 PM

Ooooh - William Peterson - I'll only watch the Las Vegas one just for him. Miami, NYC, for some reason, Grissom just makes that show interesting. Probably because he actually looks like he's trying to figure something out, not just pose dramatically with his sunglasses for the next line.

Posted by: Abby at September 6, 2006 1:16 PM

By these criteria you'd have to push Maria Sharapova aside to get to Serena Williams. I can't see that, personally.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at September 6, 2006 1:22 PM

I'd pass on Sharapova for Serena. 1), Serena is womanly. 2), Serena is American. American women are best.

How come nobody talked about cellulite when I was a little kid or earlier? Have you ever seen or read a reference to it of any kind before 1960 or so? I'm afraid the boomer generation has given idiot women an entirely new and literal way to feel uncomfortable in their own skin.

Maybe it's a kind of spookiness that can only be sold to people when the marketing machine has been finely tuned, as it was in postwar America. A woman named Florence King wrote about how they put the Statue of Liberty's armpit in a deodorant commercial, drawing a link from workaday body odor to our humble, ignoble immigrant origins. "Raise your hand if you're Sure..."

If you don't see cellulite on men, that means it's feminine, in the same way that male pattern baldness is masculine. American media consumers think they're too sophisticated for this kind of elementary math, and it fucks up their taste. Also, none of the women in that slide show are particularly curvy, and many are flat and plain.

Posted by: Crid at September 6, 2006 7:34 PM

Someone is going to have to explain to me how Lost's Evangeline Lilly qualifies as curvy.

Athletic - yes. Sexy - yes.

But definitely not curvy.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 7, 2006 8:11 AM

Someone is going to have to explain to me how Lost's Evangeline Lilly qualifies as curvy.

Athletic - yes. Sexy - yes.

But definitely not curvy.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 7, 2006 8:24 AM

CSI: Original Flavor is just full of eye candy for the thinking woman - besides William Petersen, there's George Eads (Nick), Eric Szamanda (Greg), Gary Dourdon (Warrick), Archie Kao (Archie) - the list goes on. Good for driving up the pulse. And I would be unhappy with the show for putting the lead character in a romance with a skinny woman, but...it's clear that she's genetically programmed to look like that, which is, I think, an important factor. There are some people programmed by their genes to be very thin. They don't look pinched, they don't obsessively diet (the actress in question, Jorja Fox, has said that she'll never lose her "beer belly," because she'll never give up beer), they don't play the starvation game. They just burn calories at a higher rate and don't tend to accumulate un-lose-able fat on classic areas.

This isn't to say that everyone should just sit on the couch, eat Cheetos (as I'm doing right now) and claim that their appearance and health are all up to their genes. But I do think that all of the actresses we're talking about have made clear-eyed assessments of their bodies and decided to look their best given their body types rather than trying to force themselves into a super-skinny, one-size-fits-all ideal. That, I think, is the key here.

Posted by: mg at September 9, 2006 10:29 PM

Gretchen Mol has one of the most amazing bods I've ever seen. She's not a "great" actress, by any means, but her breasts are sheer perfection.

Posted by: Tbone at July 13, 2007 11:01 AM

Jorja Fox needs to take the beer belly approach to her eyebrows.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 13, 2007 11:23 AM

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