Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dangerous Curves Ahead

Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Cameron Diaz want my body.

You might be a bit skeptical, since you probably haven't seen me on the cover of Vogue or in the pages of People's 50 Most Beautiful issue, but I assure you that this is the case. All three of these starlets have spoken out about admiring women with curves, and wishing they had more of them, and with my average chest, small waist and round hips, I definitely fit the bill. Yet despite all the talk, I don't see Cameron devouring burritos in an effort to add some padding to her thighs.

In recent years, a craze for curves has hit Hollywood, and no one can stop talking about the beauty of a voluptuous woman, and longing for the days when actresses and models were prized for their shapeliness. Read any recent magazine article about Kate Winslet, Eva Mendes, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johannsson or Jennifer Hudson and you're sure to find a number of adoring references to their curvaceous forms. Although these five women have very different bodies (no one is confusing Jessica Alba for Jennifer Hudson), they're often grouped together with just about any actress who weighs more than an Olsen twin. So what does curvy mean anyway?

If the dictionary defines a curve as "a line that deviates from straightness in a smooth, continuous fashion," I think it's safe to eliminate body types that are straight up and down, with no bending outline at the bust, waist or hips, as well as women whose bones jut out (too angular). So technically, as long as you're not super skinny and your weight is distributed in a way that allows certain parts to be thicker or wider than others, you have a curvy body.

But when used in reference to celebrities, curvy usually (with Jennifer Hudson being a major exception, I'll admit) seems to symbolize the acceptance of bodies that slightly resemble those seen on normal, healthy women, but fit Hollywood's definition of beauty (evenly proportioned, hourglass figures). On top of that, you have to have the features of your average Hollywood starlet- gorgeous face and hair, no wrinkles, no sagging, no cellulite. Women who are overweight or obese are not referred to as curvy, despite the fact that a round belly would most definitely be a curve.

When I read that a major magazine had to photoshop out Jessica Alba's protruding ribcage, (likely accompanied by an article praising her curvaceous body), I decided I'd had enough with the mixed messages. Like most women, I'm delighted that a greater variety of body types are being lauded in Hollywood, but I feel like I'm being manipulated to admire and identify with certain celebrities more for their refusal to be as nauseatingly skinny as Nicole Richie. While they might not be conforming to the most extreme and unhealthy standards of beauty, our ideal "curvy" woman is still basically a size 2 model with big, perfect breasts and a round butt tacked on.


Anonymous said...

If that's what Hollywood wants to call curvy, then to hell with them. The average woman wears a size 14 and weights 162 lbs. I'm not buying into this crap.

Anonymous said...

scarlet isn't a girl afraid to let her cellulite show. just google it and you'll see the pictures from when she was promoting her reebok line. i think it's awesome that she just doesn't give a sh**. i do admit she is still quite tiny compared to "the average woman"

Jessica said...

I cannot stand it when magazines say that Jessica Alba is curvy. She's a stick! Her abs are completely flat and she has small to average breasts. I also want to go crazy when people call Lindsay Lohan curvy. She's a stick too, but with abnormally large breasts for her body type, and the jury is still out on whether or not they've been "enhanced."

I do consider Scarlett to be curvy because she seems "soft," but I think she's so much more attractive than the celebrities with muscular, boyish bodies (like Cameron Diaz, Jessica Biel, Keira Knightley, etc.) and most of the men I know would rather a woman have a few extra pounds instead of a protruding ribcage!

coco_fiere said...

I just discovered your blog and I love it! I, too wondered what the hell Jessica Alba and others were doing being called "curvy" like me. Salma Hayek, curvy--Eva Mendes, not curvy. I am a bit taller than SH with similar proportions, lotta T, lotta A, smaller waist so I agree with that one--same for Beyonce, JLo, Nigella Lawson,etc. Scarlett is a sz4 on a "Pms" day but that's still small. See her indie films like Ghost World and you'll see what I mean. Just b/c she's not toned/muscular doesn't make her curvy. If you look at the ones most mags call sexy/curvy, they still can fit into sizes 0-2 so they can get freebies from designers that don't make clothes for regular women like me or you. WTH?