Granted. Christina Hendricks has a great body. But does that mean every story about the “Mad Men” star has to center on her “curves” and dress size?
While it’s a step in the right direction to spotlight a Hollywood figure that isn’t unrealistically thin, is the media’s constant reference to her weight and waist still placing too much emphasis on physical appearance?
For example, Hendricks talks to the August issue of Lucky about how no bathing suit works with her ample breast size and how she goes about dressing her “famous curves.” Last year it was widely reported that she was having trouble finding a designer to loan a dress to fit her size 14 body for the Emmys. Another article referred to her as “plus size success story.” One outlet published her supposed measurements and had guessing games over her bra size.
Then Hendricks -- and her husband -- were asked multiple times for a response after a New York Times fashion critic commented that “big girls shouldn’t wear big dresses” with regards to her choice of dress for the 2010 Golden Globes.
Plus it is next to impossible to view a picture of the 36-year-old star without the photo caption or accompanying headline acknowledging her physical attributes in some way. In recent times, we’ve seen everything from “Christina Hendricks struggles to contain her curves,” to “Christina Hendricks Rocks Serious Cleavage” to “she’s refreshingly voluptuous.”
And the top Christina Hendricks Google search terms? Measurements. Weight. Size.
Here's the reality check – Hendricks is a normal size. Yes, the average American woman is a size 14. So why is the entertainment and news arena so hung-up on continually debating, discussing and hailing her so-called “full figured” physique?
“Hollywood and the celebrity-orientated media are generally obsessed with appearance. Although it is nice to see that most of the media is positively commenting on curves, it is still an obsession with appearance, which can be detrimental,” Sarah Maria, body-image expert and author of “Love Your Body, Love Your Life” told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “The obsession with body-size, no matter the type or size, creates an unhealthy fixation with appearance.”
Other experts agree that the unrelenting barrage of stories surrounding Hendricks’ body is telling.
“Christina is indeed an icon of natural physical beauty and she looks stunning, but the media constantly refer to her fabulous figure as it were an affliction over which she somehow triumphed against great odds,” said pop culture expert Suzannah Galland. “This is so irritating! Would Sophia Loren at the peak of her career in the 1950s have been written about as “plus-sized?” Have times changed so much that we need to justify our awe before a beauty so obvious?”
Jessica Wakeman, blogger for women's website TheFrisky.com, said that the more diverse the bodies that we appreciate and acknowledge in pop culture, the better – but it’s the continual reference to her sex symbol status that poses problems.
“Anything to expand the definition of ‘beautiful’ or even ‘acceptable’ is a good thing. But it’s problematic that we focus on Christina Hendricks’ body in the context of her being a wanton sex goddess on ‘Mad Men,’ she said. “There are plenty of big-bodied women in pop culture who are shamed for being fat. You need not look farther than Kirstie Alley, for example.”
The hype may be getting a little too much for the star herself. Hendricks said she doesn’t feel different than any other woman, and that many of the people she meets are surprised that she isn’t bigger. “It's funny, because I don't feel like I look that different from anybody,” she told Esquire magazine last year. “Everyone's always like, "You're so much smaller in person!’”
The actress also remarked to New York Magazine that “anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body,” adding she’ll answer the body question when asked, but mostly it bores her.
So to set the record straight, let’s not forget that there is actually more to Ms. Hendricks than her body and outward beauty (gasp.) She’s been a working actress since the 90s, which in itself is no mean feat, has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
While she is gracious enough to answer figure-related questions when asked, is it about time we gave her something else to talk about besides her boobs and backside?