In a misguided attempt to get women to love their bodies, British Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has suggested we all try to look like Christina Hendricks. We'll get right on that.
The Daily Mail's headline screams, "All women should aspire for hourglass size 14 figures, claims new equalities minister" — but to be fair, Featherstone's comments are somewhat narrower than that. She says the "overexposure" of very thin models is putting women under "dreadful pressure … to conform to completely unachievable body stereotypes." The solution:
Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous. We need more of these role models. There is such a sensation when there is a curvy role model. It shouldn't be so unusual.
Featherstone also criticized the media, saying, "Magazines regularly mislead their readers by publishing distorted images that have been secretly airbrushed and altered." Doing something about that might be more effective than assigning women a body role model, especially as Hendrick's "hourglass size 14 figure" and "36C breasts" (the Telegraph helpfully provides the exact measure) are just as unattainable for some as a super-skinny runway physique. Heatworld parodies Featherstone's statement thus:
So there you go ladies. The government has spoken. Regardless of your height, weight, race and religion you must aim for size 14, red hair and enormous boobs. Failure to comply will result in exclusion from society. You have been warned.
Obviously that's not what Featherstone meant, but Heatworld's take does reveal the silliness of assigning women role models for looks. Hendricks is clearly comfortable in her own skin — of those 36C's, she says, "They are fabulous." Women might indeed be able to learn something from the Mad Men star — but it's her attitude that's inspirational, not her ass.
Update: Featherstone offers a clarification on her blog:
Oh for goodness' sake! Christina Hendricks is a fine looking woman and it is great to see a curvy woman rather than a stick insect. But that was hardly the point of the article in the Sunday Times! However the follow-on newspaper articles in other publications seem to focus only on Ms Hendricks.
The last thing we need is to move from one impossible idealised and unobtainable image of the super skinny kind to another impossible and unobtainable image of the curvy kind!
Curvy Christina Hendricks Is 'Fabulous' Role Model Says Equalities Minister [Telegraph]
All Women Should Aspire For Hourglass Size 14 Figures, Claims New Equalities Minister [Daily Mail]
Government: Hendricks Is The Perfect Woman [Heatworld]
Body Confidence 2 [LynneFeatherstone.org]