Joan Holloway From Mad Men: A Role Model For Women EverywhereJuly 28, 2010
Lynne Featherstone, our Equalities minister has said this week that girls are under pressure to conform to unattainable body stereotypes. So tell us something new, love. If you’re talking about very thin celebrities, photoshopped within an inch of their lives to present a particular idea of perfection, then we all know that. The thing about old news is… it’s old. But she comes with a (slightly) new twist. She cites the figure of Joan Holloway, played by Christina Hendricks, from the US drama Mad Men, as a body type to aspire to.
Pretty impressive, isn’t she? It’s an admirable statement to make and I can see where Ms Featherstone is going with it, but this would be equally unattainable, because that body is unique to Ms Hendricks. I’m going to get into trouble for this, but I’ll say it anyway. There are plenty of women with the same dress size as Joan Holloway or Marilyn Monroe, but some are lumpy, bumpy and misshapen. They look more like a potato than an hour-glass. Presenting a person like Ms Hendricks as a more ‘realistic’ physical role model becomes the flip side of the unreachable shape coin. How about not striving to emulate a body type, but doing your best with the one you have? One way of doing this is to have someone like Gok Wan on your team. Gok who? You may ask. He’s a stylist and the host of a Channel 4 makeover show called How To Look Good Naked. Unlike Trinny and Suzannah, a couple of horsey gels who bullied the women in their makeover show called What Not To wear, Gok, shows what suits their particular shape and sets challenges, culminating in a naked phtoshoot and a turn on a catwalk. I never cease to be amazed by his ability to transform women over a matter of weeks from hating their bodies to loving it beyond measure, with not a scalpel or hypodermic needle in sight.
Women who are Intelligent and doing great things for humanity are inspirational and aspirational, of that there is little doubt, but I don’t think these qualities and wanting to look good are mutually exclusive. Perhaps a session with Gok and his magic underwear could help the women of Britain be the best that they can be as they are.