Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The 2011 Oscars: Playboy Barbie edition
a.k.a. two steps forward, two steps back

Last year, I spent the days after the Oscars and Golden Globes talking about how much curvier the red carpet was, how women of all sizes should dress, and how Hollywood allows women of color to be curvier than white woman.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t talk about any one of these issues this year even if I wanted to because there were almost no curvy women or women of color on the red carpet this year.

So what happened? Where were all the women of color? And what about the curvy women? Where were they? Because the only curve I noticed on the red carpet Sunday night was the moon-shaped baby bump under Natalie Portman’s plum-colored dress.

Okay, so Penelope Cruz was showing off a little extra stomach, arm, and thigh (not to mention boob) post-baby, but other than that, the red carpet was curve-free. (In case you’re wondering, breasts alone don’t make a woman curvy.)

Last year there were nine curvy girls on the red carpet— JLo, Mo'nique, Meryl Streep, Gabby Sidibe, Molly Ringwald, Queen Latifah, Mariah Carey, Sigourney Weaver, and Kate Winslet (FYI... I wouldn’t call Winslet curvy, but since one reporter called her “big” that night, she deserves to stand with us)—and eight women of color: Mo'Nique, Gabby Sidibe, Queen Latifah, Mariah Carey, Zoe Saldana, JLo, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz. This year, real-sized woman dropped to two—Cruz and nominee Jacki Weaver—while women of color were down to just three: Cruz again, JHud, and Halle Berry.

And that wasn’t the only place women were missing. When Spielbeg introduced the award for best picture, the girls at BitchFlicks rightly pointed out that he mentioned eight films that had been previously nominated for—The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, The Graduate, Raging Bull—and won—On the Waterfront, Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather, The Deer Hunter—the best picture Oscar, but not one of them was about a woman or a person of color.

This was in stark contrast to last year’s Academy Awards, which, as I said then, was an evening focused on strong women—Sandra Bullock, Mo'nique, Meryl Streep, Gabby Sidibe, and of course Best Picture/director winner Kathryn Bigelow to name a few—and that those women thankfully had bodies of all sizes

And if women were more of an afterthought this year and women of color and curvy women glaringly absent on the red carpet, I can’t help but wonder if this means we are regressing.

Reese Witherspoon showed up in a look that was frighteningly reminiscent of a Playboy bunny (see picture above), and I visibly shuttered when I saw her on my TV screen. Are we going backwards instead of forwards? Will we be breaking out the corsets and bonnets next year?

The irony is that one of the only women of color on the red carpet was Jennifer Hudson, who, over the last year, has famously replaced her ample curves with ones that are more Hollywood appropriate.

Maybe the lack of curves on the red carpet was the reason why JHud’s new bod seemed to be all anybody could talk about when they saw her. Even the normally infallible Tim Gun felt the need to point out Hudson’s “amazing new figure.”

Even worse, when Ryan Seacrest interviewed Hudson, he said, “You must love getting dressed up now that you have that new body.”

It’s bad enough Seacrest felt comfortable giving Hudson such a back-handed compliment, but his comment is also offensive to the rest of us non-Red Carpet walkers because his message is that if we aren’t skinny, then we shouldn’t enjoy dressing up.

Guess what, Ryan? Real women—whether they be curvier than celebrities or more flat chested than them—like to dress up too!

The bottom line is that the more we talk about Hudson's "new" bod, the more we reinforce the idea there was something wrong with the old one. And, my God, the woman is gorgeous at any size.

After the Golden Globes this year, I wrote about how Seacrest’s superficial and sexist banter on the red carpet hurts us more than Ricky Gervais’ raunchy ribbing of celebrities, and this year’s color-and-curve-free red carpet makes me think it’s time for another course correction.

Over the past few years, we have seen a resurgence of curvy women and women of color, but last Sunday proved that, unfortunately, we’re falling back into old habits. This means that we have to re-double our efforts by continuing to demand more magazines and models with real women and by continuing to vote with our dollars and spend money on female artists of all stripes.

Recently, when asked if the new emphasis on curves would continue, a world-famous designer said that, in fashion, trends come and go pretty quickly, and he imagined that the curvier women we’ve seen on the runway over the past year would not return next season. But if trends come and go that fast, then we wouldn’t have seen the same Kate Moss heroin chic bodies for the past fifteen years. From my point of view, this sounds like an excuse—and one we cannot accept.


  1. I have to go look at a few pictures from Oscar night b/c I remember thinking that Amy Adam looked good and at a realistic weight. No?

  2. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the Oscars this year, but I re-read Seacrest's comment, and it just pissed me off again. Women love dressing up (well, I would say most), It's part of being a woman. We like being pretty.

    We don't have to be rails to be pretty.

    Why does Seacrest have to say that in order to feel good about ourselves we have to lose weight or stay at a ridiculously small size? And if he's saying things like this all the time, why the hell is he the reporter at the red carpet?

  3. Amy, I thought Amy Adams looked beautiful and not too skinny, but she's definitely not a realistic weight. I think she might have looked "bigger" simply because her dress covered more of her body, which I thought made her look better and more sophisticated than the others, so I'll give her credit for that.

    To answer your question, Brittany, the problem with Seacrest is three-fold:

    1) as I said in my Golden Globes post (http://willnotdiet.blogspot.com/2011/01/whos-really-being-mean-here.html) comedians have been removed from the red carpet and been replaced by entertainment reporters like Seacrest, which means sucking up to entertainers rather than entertaining the rest of us.

    2) It always seems to me that Seacrest has something to prove. What else would explain his weird obsession with making uncomfortable sexual remarks to female celebrities? It almost seems like he's trying too hard to prove he's heterosexual. Does that means he's covering something up??? Whatever the case, trying too hard means that he's not entirely comfortable and, like any nervous person, says the most inappropriate things.

    3) Finally, Seacrest (and everyone on E!—hello, Giuliana Rancic!) buys into the idea that skinny = better.