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Hourglass Heroine: Size 12 Christina Hendricks the New Sexy Archetype

Move over Don Draper, "Mad Men"'s Joan Holloway is the new poster child for retro-sexy.

Suddenly, actress Christina Hendricks' size-12, hourglass-figure is the hottest bod on TV and her character's return to the ad firm is about the happiest piece of news going on the much-talked-about series.

Hendricks, who struggled for years to find work in Hollywood, is now a fought-over cover girl and the new archetype for sexy women on TV.

A British government official recognized Hendricks for having the healthy shapeliness that young girls and women should aspire to and, in May, she was voted the "sexiest woman alive" by female readers of Esquire.

It's a little overwhelming, says the 35-year-old actress.

"I've never quite felt like I fitted in," she told British GQ in the magazine's upcoming issue.

"It's as if I was invisible before 'Mad Men.' Now people come up and say: 'God, I love the show, I'm so-and-so,' and I'm like, 'I know, I had dinner with you three years ago.' "

Before "Mad Men," Hendricks was told to lose weight in order to get roles -- something she was reluctant to do because she was perfectly happy with her non-Hollywood standard size.

Now, hearing that she's got the body that other women desire comes as a surprise.

"It's such a compliment, because of all those times I had agents who were like, 'You have to lose some weight,' and all of a sudden, people are celebrating it," she told Health magazine.

"It's like: 'Oh, thank you! Thank you for letting me be me.' "

Fashion designers haven't been as quick to accept Hendricks' body type.

Hendricks, who's most often seen on-set in form-flattering '60s garb, has had a harder time than other starlets when it comes to finding red carpet-worthy, figure-hugging evening dresses.

"It is difficult come awards season, and I need to find a gown to walk down the red carpet in, and there are only size zeros and size twos available," she told Glamour.

"Then it becomes downright annoying because all these designers are saying, 'We love 'Mad Men,' we love Christina, but we won't make her a dress.' "

Go To NYPost.com for the full report.

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