I recently started watching Mad Men* on DVD. I'm just about to finish Season One, and I already know that what all of my friends have told me about the show is true—not only is it an outstanding drama with amazing actors and brilliant writing, but it is also a vitally important show because of the fact that it features real-sized women who look absolutely fabulous. (A group I argue are all but absent from film and television in my "What's wrong with this picture?" post.)
The most obvious example of this is Joan Holloway, played by the insanely talented Christina Hendricks. As the most powerful "secretary" in the office, Joan is a true leader. But she's not just a leader in the secretarial pool, she's also—and even more importantly—the person who the "mad men" look to for focus and guidance. When anyone in the office—male or female—is struggling, Joan is usually the one who's called in to set them straight.
This type of characterization would be impressive all by itself, but what makes it doubly important is that Joan is not just a real-sized woman, she's also a drop-dead gorgeous one who struts her stuff with as much sass and pride as a prize-winning peacock. Because it's not just her inner strength that the employees of Sterling Cooper are drawn to, it's her stunning looks.
And who wouldn't be drawn to her? Joan has a wonderfully full face, knock-you-out hips, strong legs, an impressive badonka donk, and ample breasts. Assets she knows how to work to her advantage. She uses her powerful hips—and sometimes even her butt—like some people use their hands: as tools of expression. In this way, those hips are as much a part of personality—and her strength—as her striking red hair.
It's also notable that it's curvy, red-headed Joan—not the blonde and frail Betty Draper—who all the men find so seductive.
Obviously, it's wonderfully refreshing and completely validating to see a real-sized woman play the most desirable woman on a television show filled with beautiful woman—finally, an actress I can aspire to look like!—but what's even makes me even happier is that she accomplishes this while also being strong, smart, and powerful.
She's a triple threat, this Joan Holloway, and I truly hope the writers give such a deserving character something to be happy about.
*The third season of Mad Men is currently showing Sunday nights at 10:00 EST on AMC.