This is Why Women Have Eating Disorders

January 25, 2010

This may be a bit off topic, or at least only tangentially related to my usual discussion of relationships. However, when I came across this story it struck me as speaking volumes about our culture and how it affects women’s self-esteem. It also affects men’s preferences, so it’s important.

The photos below are of Christina Hendricks, who plays Joanie in Mad Men. The photo on the right is the true representation, and the one on the left was altered by the New York Times.

But why? Here’s what columnist Cathy Horyn had to say about her the morning after the Golden Globes:

Not pretty Christina Hendricks in Christian Siriano’s exploding ruffle dress. (As one stylist said, ‘You don’t put a big girl in a big dress.’)

The Gothamist picked up on the distortion and wrote about it here, providing the photos above.

Suddenly, The New York Times altered the article with an update:

Update | 2:57 p.m. A number of readers raised concerns that the photo of Christina Hendricks at the Golden Globe Awards had been deliberately altered. The photo was slightly distorted inadvertently due to an error during routine processing. The photograph has been replaced.

And finally, Warming Glow, a blog about TV programming, responded to the “correction” in an article entitled Bastards!:

The Times has since corrected the mistake, calling it a result of “routine processing.” Really? Because I do “routine processing” on Photoshop all day long, and when I resize or crop photos, that never seems to happen. I could understand if a dog in a funny hat showed up in the picture, but that’s just inexcusable.

Why is this a big deal?

1. It’s inaccurate and mean-spirited.

I’ve always thought Ms. Hendricks is smokin’ hot. I confess that when I first began watching the show, I assumed that she was “padded” to give her a figure that would have been more appreciated in 1961. So when I started seeing pics of her out and about, or on the red carpet somewhere, I was delighted. She’s perfect, exactly as she is! Now, it’s true that I’m not a guy. But if I were, I’d want a piece of that over Kate Moss’ skinny ass anyday!

2. It’s written by a woman.

It’s depressing, though perhaps not surprising, to learn that in the world of fashion writers, emaciation is a religion. Here’s a picture of Cathy Horyn:

I’m pretty sure she’s actually Brian Dennehy:

In any case, no big dresses for you, Cathy Horyn!

3. The media’s treatment of women’s bodies is wreaking havoc with the way we see ourselves. And that wreaks havoc with the way we present ourselves.

This is a personal issue to me. Because I have been cursed blessed with Christina Hendricks’ body type. Growing up and going to high school in LA, I can assure you I was not everyone’s cup of tea. Most of the men I attracted when I was a teenager were the dads of my friends and the families I babysat for. It was pretty much a decade of fighting off the pervs.

Eventually, I matured into my looks and got guys precisely because I was curvy. I still wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I learned that there are plenty of men who are attracted to an hourglass figure. My husband still sees me as incredibly sexy, which is such a curse blessing!

Girl, whatever you’ve got, flaunt it. You are not for all markets, but there are plenty of men who will love your looks if you are secure in them.

Guys, weigh in here. Do you think Christina Hendricks is hot? Do you prefer skinny or voluptuous?

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  • Screwtape

    “Guys, weigh in here. Do you think Christina Hendricks is hot? Do you prefer skinny or voluptuous?”

    Yes. Next question.

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, Yay! I have a feeling most men will agree.

  • tweell

    Beyond hot, IMHO. I feel sorry for the skinny twigs that are models today.

  • Cindy

    She is so stunning! Gorgeous!
    Tweell, why do you feel sorry for skinny women?
    I have always been petite. I like my body because it’s well proportioned, but would love to have bigger boobs and full hips. My ex boyfriend liked girls with more curves. He was always pressuring me to gain more weight and I just couldn’t. It made me very insecure. But the guy I am seeing now loves my body, and tells me that all the time, yay! When a woman is healthy and happy she’s a beautiful being no matter the size.

  • susanawalsh

    Cindy, if you are petite and well-proportioned, you know you are the envy of many women! You are also do probably not look like a supermodel, who has probably stopped menstruating and who eats cotton balls soaked in water to achieve a feeling of fullness.

    I'm sorry your ex criticized your weight, though I envy your ability to go crazy with the Ben & Jerry's. I think the most important thing is for each of us to love our own bodies. Queen Latifah is another example of a woman I think is absolutely stunning, and she's making no apologies.

  • aldonza

    I think she's way hot in both pics, mainly because her proportions are the same. In fact, I express a bit of a preference for the bigger one, probably because it resembles me…in a corset and good bra!

    I think a bigger issue is when magazines routinely Photoshop even very fit women, creating proportions that don't even exist in the rarified air of celebrities with personal trainers and plastic surgery. Even the very thin ones, like Cameron Diaz aren't immune.

  • bsg

    women and gay men run the fashion industry, thus they are the gatekeepers of the definition of beauty. contrary to popular belief, straight men do not make these rules.

    women determine the hierarchy of beauty, and a mans value is determined by how high up the pyramid his woman lands. things are only made worse in todays hypercompetitive, advertise yourself dating market

    there is a crude line from the frat aliens on the aqua teen hunger force “She's like a moped. Fun to ride until your friends see you.” actual sexual attraction in men is pretty binary, a woman is either attractive or not. the problem comes when his girlfriend is not pretty or skinny enough in the eyes of other women. if she doesnt cut the mustard, neither does he.

    my wife struggles with esteem issues, no matter what i tell her otherwise. i dont think the problem will ever be 'solved', but i think its high time to call the bitches out

  • susanawalsh

    Wow, that is really interesting. What I want to know is, is there a way I can Photoshop my whole life?

    Here's an example of Photoshop-induced digital anorexia. This one got Ralph Lauren in quite a bit of hot water:

  • tweell

    Petite and proportioned is great, but the great majority of models are tall and anorexic.

  • Phil Prince

    Susan. This miss Hendricks woman… I don't even want to call her that because it reminds me she is now married. Joan is the single hottest woman on mad men. She is loved not only for her figure, but the fact that she is the only one of the three main females to “own” their femininity and see it as a strength. If you talk to any mad men fan, one of the things we hated about the season most was that there was so little of joan. I was at mad men party for the finale (I'm a huge LOST and Mad Men geek) and *spoiler begins* joan leaves in the season to live with her husband, and do to another circumstance the main heads of sterling cooper leave to create their own agency. When Roger Sterling, the VP, and Joan's former lover say he has the perfect woman to run the new office, a massive silent “yes” spread through the room because we knew joan was coming back. A awestruck silence came on when the sexy 60's redhead va-va-vooms her way into the office to save the day (and the season in my opinion).*spoiler ends* to put it simply. Joan is RIDICULOUSLY sexy. I don't even like to, but her body warrants cuddling. Just for fun at the minimum. hmhmmhmhmh. this post is good. I'm gonna go watch mad men now.

    P.S. Do you notice how “dad's” gave you lot's of attention when you were younger and it turned you off, yet now you advocate women to go for dads over cads? Also, to stay in mad men context, In the last episode of the first season “the wheel” peggy and ken are testing woman for a radio commercial. Ken wants the physically uglier one because he feels her voice is better. Peggy wants to pick the physically beautiful one because she feels she will sound more confident. Ken tells her she is wrong a girl that beautiful will never be confident because she will always see things she doesn't have(she was a skinny girl). When peggy insists she doesn't understand ken drops this describing the beautiful one, which is still one of the best lines of the series, “Honey, it's God gift to bachelors: The juiciest gazelle is the easiest to catch”. Now to bring this into this post's conversation, when women aspire to be the “juiciest gazelle” and criticize other woman for not being that “juicy gazelle”, do they realize they are essentially making the hunt easier for “cads” by widening their pool? And also, converting more dads to cads by changing the makeup of the dating pool to suit cad relationships not dad relationships?

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, bsg, I agree completely. This is why I said that media worship of the boy figure affects male preferences. Research shows pretty clearly that men prefer a certain waist to hip ratio (small). They are actually very forgiving too with regard to a bit of extra weight. However, this all goes out the window if the local or current standard of beauty rewards something else, which is the situation we have today. In that case, men will prefer the look that will provide them with the most status, by association.

    I am offended by this perpetration of women dissing other women with “normal” bodies, but actually distorting someone's image in order to insult them more effectively is beyond the pale.

  • susanawalsh

    Escarondito, I think this is you, no? I agree totally about Joan's character! She is fantastic, she is so smart and savvy. And yes, she is so comfortable with her sexuality. She knows what she's got and she knows how to use it. I'm really, really happy that she will be around more next season.

    Hahaha, I love it that Joan makes you want to cuddle! Perhaps women with non-cuddlers should pop Mad Men in the DVD last thing before bed. I even want to cuddle with her. I can't imagine anything better than a big hug from Joanie on a bad day.

    Re dads going after me when I was 15, you know that I am encouraging women to choose men with dad POTENTIAL! I was being hit on by the fathers of my girlfriends in the 8th grade! Let me tell you, dreading a slumber party because old Ralph will be trying to find you alone in the hallway on your way to the bathroom is not fun! It's actually a shameful secret to hold. Neither is being groped in a car by the dad who drives you home after a babysitting job! EW! Honestly, a couple of those experiences would meet the definition of sexual assault. That was the 70s, though. I'd like to believe that would happen much less frequently now.

    Re women acting against their own best interests by changing the rules around sex and dating? Yup. We're seeing that in full swing. It can't last forever though, and I'm doing my little bit to nudge that pendulum back in the other direction. It weighs a ton, though!

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  • Decoybetty

    She's totally hot.

    There was an article in the Newspaper here a few weeks ago about Jennifer Hawkins. Apparently she was posing nude to show that she has “blemishes” on her body. and by that she meant that she had a wrinkle between her hips and her stomach when she twisted her body.

    I think (ok, hope!) that there is going to start to be an upraising of women wanting to see models looking like “real” girls.

  • AT

    What gets to me is that women are the worst when it comes to putting other women down based on their looks (and mind you I've been guilty of doing the exact same thing sometimes, which I am totally not proud to admit.) Men though, from what I've seen, don't diss other men over their appearance as much as we women do other women. We gals should really give each other a break.

    No wonder we women have so much pressure to look good based on the prevailing standards of beauty–not only do we know that men are visual creatures who would, from the get go, check us out based on how we look, but we have to contend with other women who would tear us down for the same thing. Add to that how media distorts our notions of beauty and it's a wonder we women aren't all sticking our fingers down our throats.

  • Cindy

    I agree with the post, but I disagree with the notion that the runway models body type is unnatural. In many cases it’s their own natural body type and they don’t diet to get to that weight. Those models are also usually very young women in their teens or early twenties, and they will fill out more when they get a bit older.
    The problem is that maybe 5% of women have that body type naturally and it’s ridiculous that the fashion industry is portraying it as if it’s the standard. They need to have a more accurate representation of women’s bodies in fashion and in the movies.

    Also, in the photo shopped picture of that beautiful actress, they made the waistline smaller, but the breasts are the same. Really it’s an unattainable ideal for any woman.
    We live in a world where all the pictures in the magazines are at least a little bit photo shopped to even out blemishes and make the women more attractive. I think that's a shame.

  • susanawalsh

    I do think that is happening to some degree now – in fact, the NYX's being called out in this way is great. There seems to me to be more room for various definitions of beauty – but the fashion industry will have to be pulled kicking and screaming.

  • susanawalsh

    AT, I agree! That's why I said this is really messing with women's self-esteem. How can you put your best self forward socially, in your interactions with the opposite sex, if there's a loop running through your head telling you your body is disgusting? There's no way that can work.

  • susanawalsh

    Yeah, that weird Photoshopped anorexia photo looked like a Barbie doll. By the way, I remember reading a comment from the model. She was thoroughly disgusted, and claimed they made her look like a freak, and rightly so.

    The fashion industry will never stop using very thin, tall models because the clothes hang best on them, or so it is perceived. It would be great, though, if women would grow up recognizing they're are just unusual, like redheads or something, and not the ideal that all girls should be aiming for.

  • aldonza

    Have you known many models? For every one of them that is naturally a waif, there are a legion behind her that are living on dangerously low levels of calories and working out constantly to achieve that level of thinness. Many of them smoke to curb their appetite and usage of stimulant drugs like coke and amphetamines isn't uncommon. I think even your 5% number is high, considering they don't just want models to be unnaturally thin, they also want unusually tall, very young *and* highly attractive.

    Most plus-size models started out as conventional models and couldn't maintain the low weights. Of course, now we can debate the ethics of calling normal-size women “plus-size” as most of them wear a size 10-12 and are still taller than average women.

  • Screwtape

    To be honest, the only shapes a woman can have that are unattractive to me are boxes and spheres. Anything vaguely hourglassed or thinner (but not skeletal!) is attractive to me. Or, at least, I can zero in easily on the attractive features unique to the voluptuous and thin (not anorexic!). For instance: Voluptuous is cuddly and gropeable in all the right ways, and really thin ends up with less saggy bits as they age (as a guy with his own saggy blob *may it one day shrink unto oblivion* in his middle I can appreciate the lack of sagginess… atm I just tell people the child is due in three or so months).

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, I love your unconditional love of women's bodies! Well, I guess we can't expect you to find boxes or spheres attractive. This thread just reinforces that women are much, much harder on each other around weight than men ever could be.

  • Melissa

    While in the unaltered photo she definitely looks skinnier, i think she will always be considered a 'big girl' for fashion -and Hollywood- standards, just because she has boobs and hips.

    If you think about it, there are few models with big boobs and even less with womanly hips.

    And in the entertaining world, while it's more common to see women with ample chests, it's mostly due to breast implants, which enhance the size of your breast without compromising the 'thinness' of the rest of your anatomy.

    In fact, these women – Hollywood and TV stars- look even more distanced from reality than fashion models, since generally, women with natural big breasts are never extremelly thin – while naturally very thin girls are commonly small chested.

    I always find it funny that in Europe the model type that girls like or idealize , isn't at all the one that men drool about- Think about Kate Moss or Angyness Dean, I've never hear a man saying how much they like this stick-thin, androgynous type. However, think about Adriana Lima or Heidi Klum, while they're still much more skinny than the average woman, at least they still reminisce some of the real body of a woman – having an ass, boobs, hips, etc. And most guys definitely have the hots for them.

  • hambydammit

    Susan, have you seen this article?

    It's only tangentially related, since it's just talking about one specific body misconception, but I think it does illustrate how very flimsy our grasp on physical “normality” is.

  • hambydammit

    It's worth mentioning that in humans, females are competing for males. The simple explanation for why women are so catty and evil towards each other is that they are engaged in an evolutionary arms race. Women don't get to be the selector until prospective suitors have thrown their names in the hat. The best prospective suitors throw their name in the hats worn by the women with the best bodies… even if they are just 5% of of the population.

    It's a nasty catch-22. (In all honesty, I'm glad I'm not a woman. I hope that isn't too awful to say.) If a woman relaxes and says, “I'm not going to play the bullshit “skinnier than thou” game,” that's fine, and she'll probably enjoy her dinner more, but the real world consequence is that the premium men are going to be less likely to approach her. (Of course, by “premium men” I'm speaking very specifically of the evolutionarily premium men.)

    We men do have brains, though, and bodies are not the only thing we look for in our women. But the harsh reality for a lot of women is this: What do they have to offer that's extraordinary and can overcome any lack of physical beauty they might have?

    In other words, if a woman takes an objective look at herself and what she has to offer, and realizes that she's pretty much average in most respects, then physical beauty becomes disproportionately important for her, whereas a very rich or very intelligent woman has other tools with which to very selectively find a man who's interested in her particular non-physical trait. (If you're not going to play the beauty game, find something you're really good at that men like.)

    And then there's the arms race aspect about it. Sorry for a double plug for my own blog, but I think this article is directly related, and explains why women will always be catty, and why there will always be a certain amount of misrepresentation of the “perfect female form.” It's not just the men. It's the women trying to make other women look bad. Anyway, here's the article on arms races.

    So, the salient point is this: For every average looking girl, there's another girl who's just a tiny bit better looking (skinnier, bigger/smaller boobs, whatever…) Men have built in tastes, and those tastes lean strongly towards signs of youth (girlish figures, perky breasts, smooth skin, no cellulite or varicose veins) and signs of health (good teeth, shiny hair, high energy). As men age, their choices in women diminish, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't want a woman who looks very youthful and healthy.

    Thus, the makeup industry, the fashion industry, and the inevitable push towards being just a little bit better looking than everybody else. Again… it's not the men forcing women into size 0 dresses. It's the women forcing themselves into the size 0 dresses so that they'll be selected instead of the size 2s. It's a symmetrical arms race for the resource of premium men.

  • susanawalsh

    Hamby, that is a very interesting article, and I hadn't read it before. I find it quite interesting that a number of men in commenting, including you, like Natalie Portman's intelligence. It's always good to know when men value traits OTHER than body parts!

    It is pretty clear that women with really large breasts are generally not considered the most appealing, based on who the superstars are in Hollywood. Then again, boobs this large aren't really very common. Christina Hendricks is very, very busty, but I don't think that means she shouldn't wear this dress. I think she looks fabulous.

    Here's a pretty funny and interesting piece called “Ugly Women Everyone Thinks are Hot.” Near the bottom he gives a guide for real breasts vs. fake ones, with examples, and I thought it was right on.

    This is also pretty interesting–it shows how female beauty standards have changed. Today's beauty is far more androgynous than 50 years ago. This may also be reflected in breast size.

  • susanawalsh

    Melissa, you're onto something when you talk about androgyny. The Western female definition of beauty has become significantly masculine in the last 50 years.

    There are varying hypotheses about why this should be so, including diet, the Pill, and other chemicals in the environment.

  • chance5

    I think that men tend to find different kinds of body types attractive. The fashion industry is obsessed with abnormally tall and thin women — because they think clothing looks better on them. It's often interesting to compare, say, the kinds of body types you see in high fashion ads or in the movies with, say, the kinds you see in the SI Swimsuit issue — quite different, and the latter is targeted 100% at straight men, as opposed to the high fashion photos, which are targeted towards women and, to a lesser degree, the gay male folks involved in the fashion industry. Very few straight men spend much time at all looking at high fashion photos.

    I've always been of the school of thought that different combinations of things “work” in terms of female beauty. I've also never been to a place on earth where there were not quite a few beautiful women around, even though body types and other appearance details were different in numerous ways. I think quite a few women intuit this, even in our own culture — curvy women have their fans, as to the rail-thin ones. Height is more of an issue, I think, than body type, as a woman who is significantly taller than average may have difficulty finding a height-appropriate man (given the typical preference women seem to have for men who are taller).

  • susanawalsh

    So what are the best bodies? Is it the supermodel “rexy” look? Christina Hendricks? Or is this a matter of personal preference? Re a woman relaxing and not playing the “skinner than thou” game, would that mean women with a healthy appetite and a normal body? Like Kate Winslet, for instance? Will that women get fewer suitors? Which leads to the question of facial attractiveness – which is more important to a man, a pretty face or a hot body?

    Re traits other than beauty, yes I suppose a very rich woman can buy herself a guy, but he won't love her, probably. And a super intelligence? Believe me, I'd love nothing more than for that to be true, and it did come up on your blog re Natalie Portman, but that's hard for a guy to measure up front. It might be valued in a LTR, but does it really play a role in attraction?

    You are, of course, 100% right on intra-sexual competition among females, and the arms race.

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, Nova, I agree about the SI models. I had thought specifically of the Victoria's Secret models. They can be a bit mannish, e.g., Gisele B., but they tend to be a bit bustier for obvious reasons. It's definitely a different look than you see on the runway. I've read that VS does have a lot of male buyers, though you wouldn't know it if you visited one of their retail stores.

    Re height, yes I hear this complaint all the time from women. Our culture rewards height in general, and women desperately want to be at least average (5'5″). But the returns diminish quickly once you hit 5'10″ or so, as the pool of men over 5'10″ shrinks. The tall women I know consider that their most critical requirement, and they seem to find few guys who fit the bill. I can understand it – it's disconcerting to be larger than a man, and most smaller men don't want a larger woman either.

  • hambydammit

    Well, you're basically agreeing with me, I think, Susan. Intelligence and wealth can buy a man, but nothing but sexual attraction buys sexual attraction.

    Re: beauty standards. The best we can tell so far is that there's a “template” within which all cultures have somewhat flexible standards, which are at least in part driven by cultural whims. However, it seems very likely that the environment causes the culture which causes the preferences. For instance, in very impoverished cultures, chubbiness is a sign of wealth, and therefore, tends to be more attractive. In cultures of excess like America, skinniness is a sign of superb health and attention to appearance. (It's hard not to be chubby in America.) (Also, note that I said skinniness, not waifishness.)

    So, rather than a straight cause/effect chain, it's more like a self-reinforcing multifaceted system where multiple environmental and cultural forces combine to form the dominant perception of “the perfect figure.” And of course, there's a difference between any individual's ideal, and the average ideal of a society.

    I don't know if this is true, but I would suspect that the importance of the average is a really big deal. That is, in a society where the average BMI is 24 (very high on the “normal” range) we would expect a different “average ideal” than in one where the average BMI was 18. This would be an interesting sociological study. Does the country's average BMI for women correlate to the BMI of women generally acknowledged as “perfect”?

    One of the things I've noticed, living in a college town, is that there are a LOT more tall girls than I remember from my college days. I'm six feet tall, and a lot of the college girls look me dead in the eye when they wear heels. So probably our national ideal height has changed since the early 80s.

  • aldonza

    I think women are getting slightly taller, on average, but the rise in height is pretty incremental. However, fashion has made heels, particularly super high-heels of 5″ and above, which used to be reserved for strippers and fetishist, acceptable for normal wear. Heck, I'm a geek, at work in a corporate environment, and I'm wearing 5″ heel boots right now.

  • aldonza

    ^I agree with most of this. Women are catty and competitive because the mate marketplace is competitive. But men aren't immune, they just express their competitive tendencies in different ways.

    That said, I think that men who are looking for just casual relationships will over-focus on the physical to the exclusion of everything else. Men who are looking for something with more long-term potential will still include physical in the mix, but be more open to other positive attributes. I believe the trick for women is to maintain an acceptable level of relative attractiveness, while not completely ignoring the “whole package”.

    Further, lot of women are “blessed” with good looks that come mostly from being young. Let's face it, a young average-looking woman has a bloom about her that an older average-looking woman lacks that elevates her relative physical attraction. We're all going to age. But some qualities age better than others.

  • hambydammit

    Aldonza, I think you're right. It's fashion reinforcing genes. Stripper-chic is the rage. Incidentally, I hung out with a girl last night who is almost 5'11″. She wore flats.

  • ExNewYorker

    I think your average guy prefers a little more curves than what is typical in your average runway model. If you look at the SI models, you can clearly seem more “curves” than what is typical of the clothes-hangers that you see on the Milan runway.

    From anecdotal evidence, I think the pretty face is the first thing noticed, followed by the hot body. I do think one of those being at odds with the other will not be seen as attractive, but if they're not hugely at odds, then your average guy isn't going to complain.

    And yes, Christina Hendricks is an attractive woman. There are relatively few men who don't find redheads attractive, even when we married a raven-haired woman. :-)

  • susanawalsh

    You touched on something here that has intrigued me for a while. Men do love redheads, and there are many beautiful redheaded women. But men with red hair often get dissed as “gingers.” In the UK, it's considered universally unappealing. I'm not sure why that should be the case, but I can't think of any male sex symbols with red hair. It's a weird double standard.

  • Cindy

    Aldonza, yes I do have 3 friends who are models. They are well grounded girls with good heads on their shoulders. I cannot speak for all models. I have no doubt there are many models who keep themselves thin by exercise and dieting, but I do believe the more professional modelling agencies are encouraging their models to live a healthy lifestyle without excessive dieting. One of my model friends, when she just started, was “released” by an agency because she weighed more than 110 lbs and refused to lose the weight. She became one of the best selling models of one of the most prominent agencies, so it's good that she got a bit higher up the ladder.
    I personally only have a BMI of 16, so I get the “are you eating?” comment a lot. But I eat like a pig and I am healthy as a horse (and that's confirmed by my doctor.) So I just figured it can't be that uncommon.
    Actually, I think women who model have a more natural body type than the men who model. Men often need to have the super muscular bodies, that they can only get through excessive exersize or resorting to steroids.
    Thanks for the replies and kind regards,

  • Teleprompter

    Christina Hendricks is stunningly gorgeous.

    I see nothing wrong with each picture…she looks fantastic in both of them!

  • susanawalsh

    Teleprompter, thanks for commenting, I couldn't agree more! Still shame on the NYX's for attempting to make her look bad. I'm glad you don't think they succeeded.

    On another matter, I just clicked through to your site – I see you come to me by way of Hamby. I really like your new post, especially this last bit:

    We can create a better legacy. You do not have to be controlled by your environment. You do not have to be consumed by your urges and impulses. You each have the ability to question everything you do. Inquiry is the ultimate path to transcendence.

    It pretty much sums up why I blog, so thanks for that insight. Also, anyone who can write a post with inspiration from Muse and Richard Dawkins together is welcome here!

  • Teleprompter

    Thank you! I'm glad that I am welcome, haha.

  • Michael

    yes she is, I love redheads btw. But larger girls can be and are attractive. Not obese mind you, but even the photoshopped version is not a woman I would pass by.

    • susanawalsh

      Michael, thanks for commenting! I think it's pretty clear – guys think she's hot. Women need to remember that fashion professionals are selling clothes to women, not women to men.

  • Gary

    Hell yes Christina Hendricks is hot. This obsession with stick-thin women must end. I know that some people are just naturally skinny or petite but you can tell the difference between them and anorexic people. All men are different but a few things can be said, no anorexic women and no obese women. Healthy is what we like, whatever the body type. Anorexic women in fashion doesn’t mean much to straight men, as most of us don’t pay attention to that stuff( it’s sad that some models feel like they need to damage their bodies in order to succeed). I really hope this obsession with boniness doesn’t continue to get worse and starts to reverse itself. I see that I’m pretty late in on this discussion but when the stakes are so high I must put my 2 cents in.

    • Susan Walsh

      Gary, thanks for leaving a comment. I couldn’t agree more – anorexia is so common now that a very large percentage of young women have at least some disordered thinking in their relationship to food.
      It’s also true that straight men do not buy into the super skinny ideal. It’s perpetrated by the fashion industry, for the most part. That’s why I called this reporter out – manipulating a photo to make someone look bigger – that’s unheard of as far as I know and totally out of bounds, IMO.

  • Tom

    YES! Ms. Hendrix is extremely sexy.

    But I have always blamed the “fashion industry” for the popular misperception that rail thin is hot, and by “fashion industry,” well, I thought it was gay men perpetuating that myth, not gay women!

    Anyways, yes, emphatically, real women with real curves are stunning and gorgeous. I feel sorry for women who do not know that, and develop eating disorders as a result.

    • Susan Walsh

      Hi Tom, thanks for leaving a comment. Now that Mad Men has returned with a new season, you can see her every week! Honestly, she just oozes sex from every pore.

  • EliMel

    Great Blog piece! I am so happy to see you have discounted Cathy Hornys comments and what an appropriate physical comparison! As for ‘ big girls: pen win for them at this years fashion weeks!!

    • Susan Walsh

      EliMel, thanks for leaving a comment! Come back again and check out some other posts.

  • Michel

    Years ago, I read a now lost essay on how women have shrunk in size culturally in direct proportions to the amount of social influence they have gained. The suggestion was that as women gained economic and social power, their media projected image shrunk in size. It was an interesting thesis. The idea that women in the 50’s could be full figured because they were not a social/ economic/political threats as opposed to our modern woman who competes in every facet of society.  Could there be an unconscious shrinking of the physical role of women as a backlash to our social/ economic power blooming?

    • Susan Walsh

      That is a really interesting idea! I haven’t heard it before. I also wonder how the rising trend of obesity plays into that – or if it’s a completely separate issue.

  • Possible

    If you look at the photograph it is actually possible that it was just routine processing. As if you look at the background there is exactly the same horizontal compression.