So Mad Men Season 4 is upon us and thanks to a fellow enthusiast I have a copy of episode 1 in my elegantly manicured hands, ready to watch this weekend. Free-to-air episodes stalled before Season 2 in Australia so there is unlikely to be much brouhaha around these parts about the comings and goings at Sterling Cooper (and now Draper Pryce). Still this hasn’t stopped those opportunists at Fairfax Media cashing in on the imagery of the show to sell their own tatty wares.
January Jones’ sculpted features can be found illustrating a syndicated but slightly pointless article about Mad Men on the Age website today. This is a slight improvement on the weekend when her face was used on the same website next to a random article about beauty products. Still this is small fry compared to the way that dear Joanie (actress Christina Hendricks) has been misappropriated by Fairfax of late.
Not only did the Age perpetuate a magnificently pointless story from the UK about an MP citing Hendricks as a “fabulous role model” for young women (way to go politician…replace unrealistic female body shape aspirations with… more unrealistic ideas of perfection!) they used it as an excuse to show yet another photo montage of actress Hendricks and the Mad Men crew (in case you missed this one or this one or don’t understand Google Images).
Sex sells of course, and Mad Men is sexy as all hell, but I’m sure that as the actress portraying one of modern television’s best characters you’d hope to be known for more than having a pair of breasts. Best not to read this piece then, taken from Fairfax’ vapid waste of trees: the Sunday Life magazine.
For people who actually care about Mad Men dear Joan is a mess of contradictions; an independent free spirit who gives up being wined and dined for the practical securities of marriage because she sees her shelf life running out; a dedicated wife who stands by her man even after he rapes her and bungles up their financial future; someone savvy enough to command the middle ground between the typing pool and the ‘professionals’ and be simultaneously in both and neither world; a woman significantly smarter than the men she serves and whose secrets she protects, but who never gets the chance to be more than ‘Red’ – a bosom and bottom constantly tying to escape out of her sculpted dresses. Quite some undertaking for any actor.
Yet to Sunday Life Ms Hendricks is ‘voluptuous’, ‘curvy’ and proof that ‘women’s breasts are larger than ever!’ How do we know this? The average bra size in Australia is ‘six to seven sizes up in a comparatively few number of years’ according to the general manager of Berlei, who are coincidentally about to launch a new “super-sized” (their words, way to go challenging those stereotypes Fairfax) range of bras.
Aside from the obvious fact that this expanding collective Australian bosom might be in some way related to the fact that people are on average much fatter these days (buried deep in the article as an inconvenience), I’m not sure what poor Christina Hendricks has to do with any of it. Despite her face and boobs featuring on the front page of the magazine, filling another full page inside and once appearing once again on the front page of the paper proper the article restricts her involvement to half a paragraph out of 32 others. Perhaps they realised after getting the rights for the pictures that her marvellous but actually rather average sized 36C boobs didn’t quite support their tenuous point. Or perhaps they just put her on the cover of Sunday Life without having a reason because it sold lots of papers when they did it before last January…
Just to be clear, I think that Christina Hendricks is beautiful. I definitely would. If I was a woman I’m sure I’d be very happy to look like her. And maybe I still would. I understand why her image is used in countless magazines and newspapers, known to millions around the world who have no idea what Mad Men is. I just think that both Christina Hendricks and Joan (created and lovingly written by Mad Men head honcho Matthew Wiener) offer more to talk about than boobs. Splendorous they may be – Hendricks and the crew demonstrate how much they understand that with every filmed wiggle and pointy bra Joan wears – but Mad Men is more than high class Benny Hill.
Need proof? Check out A Night to Remember (Season 2, Episode 8) in which Joan helps bring some new work into Sterling Cooper by reading TV scripts. She is rewarded by seeing the new position created to manage the work handed to an inexperienced young male graduate. The show ends with a shot of Joan undressing at home, tenderly rubbing the indents in her shoulders where her bra straps have cut into her. A fabulous role model? Absolutely. But for many more reasons than the Age can be bothered to think of.
Oh and for anyone who arrived here by typing Christina Hendricks Breasts into Google and hoping for something a little less earnest, sorry about that. Maybe do some good while you're here...