BY FRANK TERRANELLA
As an over-50 male, I am sorry to say that the women that Hollywood is putting up on the screen these days as the new models of feminine beauty often leave me cold. When I see people like Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller or Olivia Wilde, all I want to do is feed them. Have a chocolate shake. Gain 20 pounds. Grow some curves!
I think that men who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s may have a different idea of the perfect female figure than young men today. We over-50 men first noticed women at a time when the feminine ideal was Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield. Oh sure, there was also Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, but these were women admired more for their faces than their bodies. If you asked any teenage boy in the 1960s which movie star had the best figure, he was more likely to say Elizabeth Taylor or Raquel Welch than Doris Day or Jane Fonda. Even on television, the most popular mouseketeer among boys was not Karen or Sherry or Darlene. It was the full-figured Annette.
Our fathers and grandfathers shared this admiration for a female figure that was, in their words, “healthy-looking.” The ideal then was the voluptuous Gibson Girl look of the early 1900s. That was continued into the 1930s with chorus girls in Busby Berkeley musicals showing a lot of meat on their bones -especially around their thighs. I don’t know whether those women would be considered beautiful today, but I do know that in the 1960s, women who by today’s standards would be considered fat, were held up as the feminine ideal.
Men who grew up in the 1980s and later were born into a world where the diet and exercise industry has become pervasive. Feminine fitness now dictates that “you can never be too skinny.” In fact, if you tell a woman today that she is too skinny, that’s just what she’ll tell you. Anorexia and bulimia are all too common. Yet I think that baby boomer men still are more attracted to a woman with curves – the classic hourglass figure. You can’t have an hourglass figure without bulges at the top and bottom. Fashion models have never had those curves because designers don’t design for real women. But ask a straight man what he prefers, and the answer will, in most cases, be a woman with big curves. Look at how popular Kim Kardashian is despite the absence of any other known talents.
That is not to say that younger men don’t appreciate a 38-26-40 figure. It’s just that society right now seems to be obsessed with obesity. Large hips are to be avoided. So are large breasts. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If this is female obesity, I say, let’s have more of it. If Christina Hendricks is fat, then all I can say is: fat is good! Of course we don’t want people to be unhealthy, but unhealthy comes in many different sizes. For example, Karen Carpenter’s size near the end of her life at the age of 33 was certainly unhealthy. By contrast, Elizabeth Taylor lived to be 79. I’ll bet that more women die from trying to be skinny than from an obesity-related illness. And that’s why these big, beautiful women were formerly referred to as having “healthy” figures. Long Live The Hourglass!