DETAILS on “Why Fat is Back in Hollywood”

The curve, Mae West observed, is more powerful than the sword. Measuring 38-24-38, the five-foot-one sex goddess spoke from experiencelots of it. Wests bodacious successorswomen like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Drew Barrymore, Rachel Weisz, and Kate Winslet, who hold fast to their cushioned curves even as their peers downsize more aggressively than General Motorsunderstand that maxim. Their faminista sisters do not. Now, the bigger-(relatively speaking)-is-better argument could easily be made with logic. But a growing faction of actresses who appear to have a healthy relationship with carbohydrates are making the point better than any polemicizing ever could. Line Hollywoods wispy players up next to the lush likes of Scarlett Johansson, Lost siren Evangeline Lilly, Liv Tyler, Big Love star Ginnifer Goodwin, and an increasingly curvy Mandy Moore. Who would you rather slow-dance with? Seriously, would you prefer to get a Greys Anatomy lesson from an hourglassed Katherine Heigl or a reedy Ellen Pompeo? Nicole Richie or Nicole Richie at 50 percent off? Madonna Like a Virgin or Madonna Hung Up on Yogilates? Heres a one-woman argument for roundness: Gretchen Mol. After going virtually unnoticed in some 20 films, the cherubic starlet put on a few pounds, took off her clothes, and gave a breakout performance as the worlds most famous pinup in The Notorious Bettie Page.

The pinups didnt have perfect bodies. They didnt go to the gym. They did Jack LaLanne exercises, those lazy leg lifts, says Mary Harron, the biopics cowriter and director. It was a more forgiving era. I think constant dieting makes people crazy. It gives them this strained look.

You see that look in the faces of formerly fleshy sexpots who have morphed into pinched, prematurely aged superwaifs. What do they do for fun? Food and sex are appetites inextricably linked in the human psyche. One could speculate that for those obsessed with not eating, even the boyfriends salami goes the way of the bread basket.

A certain young actress whose figure has been closely scrutinized by the tabloids recently came out in defense of padded bones. You want to be called sexy, and you want to have tits and an ass, she said. Perhaps those of her peers still busy whittling themselves down to a size zero should adopt that statement as a mantra.

Curves are all good from where I stand, says writer and director Neil LaBute, whose playsThe Shape of Things, Fat Pighave occasionally been inspired by the subject of weight. Im working with Maura Tierney right now, and shes a picture of what a great American girl looks like. Its not even that shes particularly curvy. But you get the sense she never spends time worrying about what anybody else thinks about her weight. She appears incredibly comfortable in her skin. Which, as everyone knows, is sexy as hell.

Its also the same quality that makes the delectableasaKrispy Kreme Drew Barrymore universally irresistible. Shes a great example of somebody normal and beautiful who likes her body, says costume designer Mona May, whose credits include two Barrymore filmsThe Wedding Singer and Never Been Kissed. A lot of actresses are paranoid. This makes me look fat! Meanwhile Im shopping for them at Gap Kids because theyre less than a size 2! Ill tell you somethingthe chubby chicks arent the ones turning the lights off during sex.

This article shows the problems with speaking euphemistically about fat. The focus of the piece is on the assets of curvy, rounded female figures versus bony, angular ones, and despite the title, none of the examples used are fat. Well, maybe Mae West, and someone always argues for Marilyn Monroe, but Kristin Davis? Rachel Weisz? Katherine Freakin’ Heigl? No. Just no.


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