Christina Hendricks: curvy role model or another unattainable ideal?



Last week the UK government’s Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone MP, caused controversy when she suggested that Christina Hendricks – who plays sexy secretary Joan Holloway in the TV series, Mad Men, and wears a size 14 – is a perfect role model.

The controversy surrounding the comments was, I admit, more of the media’s own making than anything that Featherstone herself had said. Yes, she had said that Hendricks was a good role model but she did not decree that she was a good role model for every women or that there should only be one such role model. She was merely making the point that curvy women should be celebrated and that it is potentially dangerous for young women and girls to aspire to the size zero models that often grace the front pages of magazines, such as GQ. In fact, what the Equalities Minister said was, “There is such a sensation when there is a curvy role model. It shouldn’t be unusual.”

I agree. To a point. And that point is that each and every woman is different. Certainly curves shouldn’t be frowned upon and those women lucky enough to have hips and a fuller chest should be celebrated rather than feel the need to diet. But we aren’t all that lucky to look like Christina Hendricks.

My petite frame and flat chest mean that no matter how many corsets I put on, I will never look like Hendricks’ alter ego, Joan Holloway:



Lynne Featherstone’s comments come as she discusses the Liberal Deomcrat Campaign for Body Confidence which she launched in March this year and which follows on from the Lib Dem’s Real Women Campaign.

Sepaking in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Featherstone said, “I am very keen that children and young women should be informed about airbrushing so they don’t fall victim to looking at an image and thinking that anyone can have a 12in waist.”

“Advertisers and magazine editors have a right to publish what they choose, but women and girls also have the right to be comfortable in their own bodies. At the moment they are being denied that.”

She said she was planning to hold a series of meetings with the fashion industry later this year to tackle issues including airbrushing.

The issue of airbrushing in the fashion industry is not new. It seems that once a year or so one magazine makes a stand and features a cover photograph of a star who hasn’t been airbrushed or a “real woman”. To be honest though, I don’t think there are many women who, given the chance, would opt not to be airbrushed, be they a size 6 or a size 14. We all spend time – sometimes hours – making ourselves up each morning and before we go out for an evening. I don’t think it’s all that different: we’re all trying to portray the best possible image of ourselves to the world.

What are your thoughts on this thorny issue? Who is your role model?

Words: source
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About sugarandspicesg

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9 Responses to Christina Hendricks: curvy role model or another unattainable ideal?

  1. Rachel says:

    Surely role models should be based on actions rather than image?

  2. I loooove your post!! I love Christina Hicks. She is incredibly sexy and comfortable in her own skin and I think this is what should be celebrating – not that women wearing a size 14 can be sexy but whatever your size, if you accept who you are, work with what you have and are confident about yourself, everybody can be sexy. She is always dressed for her body type and doesn't try to be someone what she is not. But let's be honest, she is so beautiful – full-figured or skinny – it doesn't matter she would be as gorgeous!Thanks again for an amazing post. You added another angle to the conservation about body image.

  3. Jill Mader says:

    It's Hendrick's, not Hicks…

  4. my role model – really don't have one. I have a girl crush on Miroslava Duma, because of her style, but otherwise – if I really want to look for an inspiration, I try to look on the people who at least in some way are in my "wight cathegory". i won't look up to Nicole Kidman, if I'm more like Rachel Bilson, you know 🙂

  5. Seeing Christina Hendricks on Mad Men was like an epiphany for me. I'm a curvy size 5'9" size 14 too, and I never never see chic images of women like me in the media. It's such a relief to see a woman who's not super thin on TV!

  6. M says:

    When it comes to role models I tend to look up to the visionaries rather than just following someone for their looks, that said I do feel the minister was misunderstood, Christina Hendricks is a good role model in this size centric scenario, she is healthy, the fact that she is pretty can only help the cause when it comes to impressionable teens trying to emulate the hot cover girls du jour. xx

  7. Kirsty says:

    i agree with lynn featherstone, and you're right, her comments have been taken out of context. i think what she was trying to say was that there should be a range of sizes celebrated by the media, so that girls of any size, know that their health is more important than trying to be what they are not. at the end of the day, everyone has insecurities, and it's great to finally have someone in power who recognises this and is actually wanting to do something about it!

  8. Miss Emmi says:

    I was supportive of Featherstone, thinking maybe the media had blown things out of control until I read her article about the controversy on her own blog, where she labeled skinny women "stick insects". That sounds like body snark to me.Christina is lovely, but the only reason she is celebrated in the media is because her fat is in the right places (and she has a 'skinny' face). She is hyper-sexualized because she has curves; to a point that she cannot appear in the media without a discussion about her body, effectively reducing her to a dress size, which I see as a little dehumanising. I see many, many women the same size as her with a different shape, and they far outnumber the ones with the hourglass bodies. The average woman is more of an apple or pear shape, with lots of weight around the belly or hips. We're not going to see that shape represented in the media, which is why it annoys me that they talk about celebrating Hendrick's body as a huge step towards equality. It's not. It's just another body type that is unrealistic for most people.

  9. Is says:

    Oh, what a coincidence! I just blogged about body types and how curvy isn't any better of a role model than thin when it comes to girls who don't look like either, or look like one and want to be the other.You bring up some good points, and I completely agree that all body types are different – there is no better or worse.

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