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?