What the Hell is happening to our women?

Mrs. hrhomer and I just got back from seeing “Chicago.” Aside from Queen Latifah (overweight but attractive, which seems to be frankly more acceptable for African-American actresses than those of other ethnicities) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (about human-sized), all the female dancers were ridiculously skinny. Renee Zellweger looked like a refugee every time she bared her body, and several times, I actually said “Oh my god!” at the sight of an emaciated background dancer.

I know it’s nothing new, but DAMN! I just had to see if anyone else noticed it in this particular film.

And another thing… what the hell is the big deal about this movie? It was OK, though I don’t like musicals. My wife loves 'em, and was an actress on the stage for much of her youth, and thought it was OK. Renee Zellweger’s name is being bandied about for Oscar contention. That’s just crazy - she was good, but no more than that. Queen Latifah was great, though not Oscar-worthy.

hrh

I noticed it as well. Granted, I paid more attention to the sparse male dancers anyway.

I don’t pay attention to Oscar nominations, but if Zellweger or Latifah are nominated, I’ll be suprised. It was a good movie, but not that good.

Um, I guess the women are very skinny in this movie because of the era it’s portraying? The Flapper era was notorious for it’s very skinny women, because that was the fashion back then.

I guess.

Dear hrhomer:

I got the cure for what ails ya:

ABOUT SCHMIDT.

Skinny is common in today’s images of females. Is it no accident that many male fashion designers and choreographers are, or seem to be, openly gay? I have wondered if they prefer women who resemble young men, i.e. breastless, thin, non-women.

The images of women in that show and our culture may be derived from this preference. Women in fashion and film (WIFAF) might be boyish ideals for gay fascination. So, now we have a generation of women striving to have the bodies of boys (because of fashion) and the breasts of vixens (because they are, after all, female).

It’s true that fashions in flapper days were designed for petite women, with small breasts (which were sometimes bound so that they didn’t stick out too much) and narrow hips.

But if you look at the chorus lines in early movies, you’ll quickly see that there was very little resemblance between them and the elongated, buffed skinniness of today’s featured women stars and models. A woman who is five feet and a hundred pounds has a totally different look from a woman who is six feet and a hundred pounds. (While that is a slight exaggeration, it is only slight.) Those extra inches make for wildly different proportions. (I remember an adage that comic book characters are seven heads high while real people were only six heads high. Again, this may be slightly off, but not only are some models approaching these proportions but pictures in ads are manipulated so that bodies are elongated to make them closer to these proportions.)

While a few pictures of women from that era are somewhat close to today’s standards - the women who posed nude or semi-nude in the Ziegfeld Follies, for example - the “standard” beauty was much shorter and less curvy, except for the many who would appear to be rather chunky compared to today.

I’ve astounded at the thinness of any number of women on screen, not just the famous ones like Calista Flockheart and Lara Flynn Boyle but others from Gweneth Paltrow to Jalel Moloney to Maya Rudolph.

This trend may come from our society’s fascination with models. I remember that when Elle Macpherson agreed to play nude in Sirens, it was reported that she had to gain 15 or 20 pounds in order to look better naked. This would have been unthinkable in flapper times.

In response to a remark or question about her thinness, Calista Flockheart once said something to the effect that if she had the exact same body but with big boobs nobody would be saying anything her being too thin.

Sad but true.

Fashion designers and choreographers, gay or straight, do not cast movies or order female stars to adapt themselves to their costumes.

And guess what? Almost all the male costume designers in Hollywood in the '30s, '40s, and '50s, when stars were curvacious and full figured (Jean Harlow, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, etc.), were gay too.

The idea that gay costume designers want women to look like boys is ridiculous if not insulting.

Ummmm…now I haven’t seen the movie yet, but isn’t it quite possible that the reason all the back up dancers are skinny is because they’re, well…DANCERS?
I have a couple of friends who are in ballet. One has a wonderfully curvacious figure, but that’s due to the fact that she has huge hip bones. Aside from that, both of them are insanely skinny, as is virtually every other woman they work with. It’s not prejudice on the part of the choreogrophers or whoever in charge of the ballet theater, it’s due to the fact that with all the excercise, work out, and performing they do, they’re trim as shit. Most dancers, especially those who work to become professional enough to get into movies, dedicate a LOT of time and effort into getting that good. That’s a lot of excercise, and a lot of hard work that leaves one incredibly skinny. I seriously doubt the presence of skinny women in the film had anything to do with “feeding the ideal of skinny=beautiful” as it does with finding the best dancers they could, and the fact that anyone who works that hard to get there, is going to be skinny as a stick.

Relax. It was just a theory being thrown out.

the prepubescent look …what with the shaved genitals in all porn now…to curveless, boobless, waif thin models is interesting to discuss.

Is this how we are trying to look younger? by looking as though they have not hit puberty?
or is the genital shaving and whatnot simply to look different from all other mammals?

Er… I don’t know about your friends, but every thing I’ve ever read about professional dancers seems to agree that it’s a profession as bad or worse than acting as far as pushing the “ideal skinny” body. Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia) are quite common in the dance world.

Contrast a professional dancer with any other kind of professional female athlete - they all work out as hard as dancers, and you don’t often see waifs playing tennis, skiing, hell, even professional skaters look of decent weight and healthy.

Heh…imagine if Marilyn Monroe were trying to break into showbusiness these days, she’d be too fat!

I’m glad my hubby generally prefers REAL women. If he’s ogling a gal on TV (look but don’t touch, honey!), it’s usually a soccer player or ice-skater. If I had to diet myself into a skeleton for him to be happy, we wouldn’t be together!

I noticed that Renee Zellweger has ZERO chest, and wondered how that is actually sexy to anyone who likes women. She has a cute face, but her body is a popsicle stick. Catherine Zeta-Jones seemed to look great, but she was always trussed up in those corsets. I wonder if she still had baby-weight, but I don’t care-- she’s gorgeous.

Maybe they figured Queen Latifah was going to take care of the bustiness for the whole cast-- she has a hydraulic bust!

Overall, I really enjoyed Chicago. It was fun and fast-paced. Eye candy, not heavyweight, and therefore unlikely to compete seriously against some of the other movies I imagine being nominated (Gangs of NY, The Hours, The Piano, About Schmidt, who knows?).

maybe, but probably not.

Originally posted by El Elvis Rojo
Ummmm…now I haven’t seen the movie yet, but isn’t it quite possible that the reason all the back up dancers are skinny is because they’re, well…DANCERS?

I have a couple of friends who are in ballet. One has a wonderfully curvacious figure, but that’s due to the fact that she has huge hip bones. Aside from that, both of them are insanely skinny, as is virtually every other woman they work with. It’s not prejudice on the part of the choreogrophers or whoever in charge of the ballet theater, it’s due to the fact that with all the excercise, work out, and performing they do, they’re trim as shit.

Most dancers, especially those who work to become professional enough to get into movies, dedicate a LOT of time and effort into getting that good. That’s a lot of excercise, and a lot of hard work that leaves one incredibly skinny. I seriously doubt the presence of skinny women in the film had anything to do with “feeding the ideal of skinny=beautiful” as it does with finding the best dancers they could, and the fact that anyone who works that hard to get there, is going to be skinny as a stick.

I have to agree with El Elvis Rojo. My third strongest negative reaction to Chicago was CZ Jones looking much too heavy in the hips and legs–nothing like a dancer. (My first and second objections, respectively, were both female actors lack of professional dancing talent and Richard Gere’s voice. Whatever. The movie still rocked.) CZ Jones may have been pregnant.

Each sport that you cite tends to reward certain physiologies, based on the need for explosive power, limberness, endurance, etc… Downhill female skiiers (think Peekabo Street) are usually bulky as hell, with huge butts, hips and thighs. Tennis players too need explosive power, but also flexibility and endurance, so you’ll see a different appearance. Ice skaters need tons of explosive power for their double and triple jumps, hence their somewhat overdeveloped quads/hams.

Dancers–especially jazz dancers–generally don’t need explosive power. They need flexibility and endurance.

I thought Renee’s lines were great (despite the sunken chest, as some suggest) and made her more believeable as a dancer. She’s short, so she needed to be thin. She has the prototypical flapper body. That said, CZ Jones is gorgeous and an underrated actor. As for one of the dancers that some poster “gasped” at, I thought she looked great. Much of the gasping is due to her very large rib cage juxtaposed against a thin, thin body. She probably also had her chest held out for dramatic effect.

for all those who say that dancers have to be skinny, i suggest you re-watch “White Christmas”, “Kiss Me Kate” and “Guys and Dolls”.

the female dancers in these movies train just as hard as dancers today, dance just as well, and probably weigh about 20 pounds more.

the notable exception is Danny Kaye’s girlfriend in White Christmas…stick thin, and she looks terrible compared to the rest of the dancers.

As tsunamisurfer pointed out, there’s a big difference in the body build needed for such activities. Look at professional bicyclists. They’re generally stick thin as well. Professional speed skaters? Incredibly thin. Professional swimmers? Thin again. These are all professional sports that require lots of dedication and excercise, but I dare you to find a heavy/bulky professional bicyclist. It’s the same with dancers. I’ll admit, there are some that have big legs and thights, but how many professional female ballet dancers have you seen with huge muscular upperbodies and legs that look like they can kick in a car door? Comparing a dancer to a professional soft ball player isn’t a fair judgement, because they work out for different things. For many professional sports, you want strength and girth, but for dancing, you want strength plus flexibility and nimbleness. Thus, when one excercises and works out, they train to get tone as opposed to muscular growth, and you have two different outcomes.

Don’t believe me, just go catch a glimpse of you local ballet troupe the next time they perform and see how many “big women” you find.
(p.s. I’m a fan of the Marilyn Monroe figure, myself. There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman with curves in all the right places…mmmm…hips)

I didn’t say they “have to be skinny.” Many outstanding female dancers are not thin. That said, I like the lines of a thin female dancer. If you don’t, no problem.

I was with you up–until now.

True, most speed skaters have smallish upper bodies, but the sprinters especially have disproportionately large quads. Again, explosive power. Ditto some of the short-distance bicyclists.

Ballet dancers are in a class by themselves. Many are genetically predisposed to thinness, yes–IOW, naturally thin–but I believe many are bulimic or anorexic.

That said, to my thinking, there is something very beautiful about the lines of a fairly tall (5’ 7" to 5’ 10"), very thin female dancer.

How trim is shit?