Christina Hendricks thinks style & body image criticism “hurts your soul”


There have already been excerpts from Christina Hendricks’ Los Angeles Times Magazine interview floating around, notably her description of being a natural blonde who was “over the moon” to dye her hair red. But there’s a lot more to the interview – and there are photos from the magazine shoot too. As you all know, I love Christina. I think she’s beautiful and amazing and talented, and I love the way she’s been embraced as a not-so-new kind of beauty ideal. That being said, I often find Christina’s styling to be crap. Both in real life and for proper photo shoots. I think photographers and stylists are so used to dealing with women who are just hangers for designers, and they don’t know how to handle Christina’s figure. Plus, she’s a pale redhead who doesn’t (or won’t) tan, so her styling can often tend towards “corpsey”. For this LAT Mag shoot, they went corpsey, with a dash of china-doll. It’s not all that great.

As for the interview, it’s extensive. The full piece is here, and here are some of the highlights:

Leslie Gornstein: Let’s talk about Joan Holloway [Christina‘s character on Mad Men]—or I guess it’s Joan Harris now.
Christina Hendricks: The new last name always breaks my heart a little. I am so attached to Holloway.

Joan seems to be one of the most nuanced female characters on TV in a long time. She clearly believes that dressing sexy and seducing the men in the office are part of the path of survival. And yet female viewers identify with her strength. She’s clearly not to be toyed with. Do you see her as a feminist?
You know, I think there are elements of that. Joan certainly is in the workforce before many women did such a thing, and she excels at it. She really has all these men on their knees in terms of needing her professionally, and I think there’s nothing wrong with how she has gone about getting there. I don’t think it’s not feminist to use every tool you have to succeed, and part of that is being a woman—presenting yourself in a certain way. And yet she has these things in her home life, with her husband, that are very old-fashioned and frustrating. She is definitely a woman of her times.

Women viewers seem more protective of Joan than any of the show’s other female characters. I imagine it’s her potential.
I always worry about Joan—I love her. I say to [creator] Matt Weiner all the time, “Please! She’s had such a hard time! Give her a bone—come on!” But true to Mad Men fashion, not the happiest things happen. Still, she always lifts her head up and fights back, and that’s one reason people respond to her. She gets back up again, cleans it up and moves on with a smile.

Joan has sprung to life on her own online. There’s a What Would Joan Do? blog, and she’s apparently Tweeting, even though she technically shouldn’t even have a PC. What hath Christina wrought?
Yeah, I heard about What Would Joan Do? I thought it was hilarious and very clever. I know there are people out there using Twitter in the voice of characters on the show, but I don’t really get that. The whole thing confuses me. It’s a very 2010 sort of deal.

You have said that you auditioned for a Woody Allen role, but he turned you down for being “too sweet.” Had he not seen Mad Men?
I think that comment was probably snipped out of an entire paragraph of something I said. Essentially, this is what happened: I auditioned for this sort of crass, cockney character—very, very blue collar and a little rough around the edges. And he said he felt I wasn’t rough enough and, in that context, maybe I was a little too sweet.

Have you gotten any meaner? Should we call Woody back?
I tried! I really hope that if he heard about that comment, he wasn’t offended in any way. He is, like, my dream director.

A friend insisted I ask you about your three-episode role in the late sci-fi show Firefly. Are sci-fi fans more obsessive?
I think sci-fi fans are so committed. They’re so immersed in this universe. Over the years, it seems Firefly has only gained momentum rather than lost it. I still get letters from people who watched the show—I get more Firefly than Mad Men letters.

Are you a sci-fi person?
I grew up in a sci-fi family, and my brother and dad are really into that kind of thing. It’s always fun for my brother to see me in a spaceship.

You’ve said you started dying your blond hair red at age 10. How exactly did you sell that choice to your folks?
They did it to me! I was obsessed with the Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables. I decided I was Anne of Green Gables. There was something that spoke to me about her, and I wanted to have her beautiful red hair. So my mother said, “Let’s just go to the drugstore and get one of those cover-the-gray rinses!” My hair was very blond at the time, but it went carrot red. And I was over the moon. I went to school the next day and felt like myself. And then I went back [to that color] over and over again. What a cool mom, right?

Back during awards season, you wore black dresses to two major events, including the Elton John Oscar party, and fashion journalists noticed enough to ask about your break from bright colors. Has that kind of press scrutiny changed how you choose red-carpet looks?
A little. I remember that very instance, and I thought, Oh my God, that is so weird—I didn’t even realize I’d done that. But there is such a business these days based on being critical. It’s always been there, but now there are entire magazines devoted to shredding people—who wore the worst dress, who had the worst cellulite. It just, you know, hurts your soul. At the end of the day, you’re just going to a big party. You have to remind yourself to wear the things you love. Sometimes your friends or a stylist will go, “Yeah…no.” Sometimes you can’t see yourself with objectivity, but you have to go with what you think is pretty. You’re borrowing these dresses to wear to events, and sometimes they don’t feel like you—like something I would ever wear.

Earlier this year, you told Glamour: “It is difficult come awards season, and I need to find a gown to walk down the red carpet in, and there are only size zeros and size twos available. Then it becomes downright annoying because all these designers are saying, ‘We love Mad Men, we love Christina, but we won’t make her a dress.’” Have those designers come to their senses yet?
Yes, it’s been really nice. The show has gotten more successful, and people started realizing we were winning [awards]. They’ve been incredibly generous, making really beautiful things. I guess it’s a good thing that story got printed. Someone got the message!

As a woman, I have to say the retro underwear on Mad Men actresses looks like utter torture. Am I wrong?
No, you’re not wrong. We’re so used to it now, but those undergarments really aren’t made for relaxing. If I get my entire costume on, and I have to wait a few hours for my next scene, I have to learn how to position myself, otherwise the boning presses into my guts! It can really hurt those internal organs! I have this little war wound—a blister from wearing a garter the other day for 17 hours.

There’s now a Joan Holloway Barbie. Do you like the doll?
I have only seen pictures of her so far. It’s amazing! I am such a girlie girl—such a Barbie girl. Am I weird if I want to give a bunch of them to my friends and mom and stuff? I’ll get one for everybody, and I’m sure my friends will be like, “Gee, thanks for the doll…of you.”

[From The Los Angeles Times Magazine]

I put a lot of the interview up, but you should still go read the whole thing – I took out the parts where she was talking about playing the accordion, and her supporting role in Life As We Know It, which she did with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. Christina always comes across as very grounded, and very respectful of her fans, which I love. I actually squealed a little when she talks about Mad Men – Joanie really is one of the best characters on a show full of awesome, well-written characters. And I’m really hoping Joanie’s part is a lot bigger this next season (less than a month, bitches, until it premieres!). I want Joanie and Don Draper to get together. For real.



Photos courtesy of the LAT Magazine.

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24 Responses to “Christina Hendricks thinks style & body image criticism “hurts your soul””

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  1. Robert says:

    She sounds like a bimbo who is full of herself.. I can’t stand her.

  2. Emily says:

    I don’t think she looks “corpsey” here. I’m really pale so maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s just because everyone else tans that when a really pale person comes along they look odd compared to the norm.

  3. ginger says:

    She is absolutely gorgeous…love her! She sounds like a totally down to earth woman who has a handle on herself and her looks in today’s Hollywood. I’m rooting for her continued success. Go Curves!

  4. Eileen Yover says:

    I think these photos are gorgeous. The colors they chose make her eyes look amazing!

  5. gabs says:

    She sounds a little dumb but then again they ask her pretty dumb questions too. I guess shes okay. I do like that shes not a hanger or stick figure

  6. Persistent Cat says:

    She looks amazing in those photos. I love the make-up, the accessories and the nailpolish. I don’t see “corpse-y” at all.

    I didn’t read the article. I don’t care, nor do I watch the show but I might someday so I try to avoid anything that might be spoiler-ish.

  7. Majosha says:

    Corpse-y?? I think she looks gorgeous in these shots! Her porcelain skin is stunning, and I hope she continues to embrace it rather than pile on the bronzer like so many of her contemporaries.

  8. Siren6 says:

    The portrait in the large blue hat is stunning. Really beautiful!

  9. Stella says:

    Oh no- Joan canNOT get with Don! She is way too good for him- too much woman for him to handle! Joan would eat Don alive.

    I thought the interview was cute and simple and I love the pictures- she is such a beauty!

  10. keri says:

    I think you are over using corpsey.. does not apply here. The second shot has way too many accessories- rings, necklace…then the black thing feather whatnot (fascinator?) and it’s over kill. Overwhelms her face… amateur styling. I am not a pro but i know basics like too much going on accessory wise eclipses the subject. Tacky looking ‘jewelry’ too. She looks great but the styling is yes, bad. Cheesy!

  11. Karen says:

    Not a fan of the styling either. Love her though. Love her, love her, love her. More Christina!

  12. kaligula says:

    i agree. off the mark styling 99% of the time, and i agree with your hypothesis about why. it’s tragic! heavens i so want to make a dress for her. nonetheless, they can’t dim her gorgeousness…. i hope she stays center stage for a long time.

  13. iriD says:

    She’s absolutely stunning in these pictures. Prettiest I’ve ever seen her look (except on MM). As a not size 0, redheaded, fair skinned gal myself, I’ve gotta say I sure don’t mind her being our standard bearer.

  14. Hautie says:

    I also find these pictures amazing. They are done to be more art, not flashy and cheap.

    They were not intended to be new looks for her to wear to go grocery shopping.

    I also like to see the pale look done like this with beauty and graceful posing.

    Instead of the pale look done all grungy and goth.

    And I have seen her new Barbie. It is amazing. They did Betty Draper too. And both dolls look like Vintage Barbie. Not these cheap toothy 2010 versions.

  15. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    These interviewers,

    I don’t know.

    It’s difficult to take any of their pieces seriously when the whole thing is so sycophantic. Call it the continuing Wintour-ization of journalism. I mean, there are puff pieces, and full-out blow job sagas and increasingly, no one is coming out unscathed. It makes the conversations dull and trite, makes the interviewee look self-absorbed and dumb and the slavering ‘please be my friend, I’ll love you until something more nubile comes around in a fortnight’s time, but until then, you’re the tops’ tone is kind of embarassing. And let’s not–Interview magazine, what happened?

    Does anyone remember the waves of eye-rolling that followed the (I think GQ) piece on Angelina Jolie called ‘The Best Woman in the World’? (Just an example, NOT interested in starting a Battle of the Pitt All-Stars–and I mean ever). I just thought I’d use that as an example because I feel a strange need to qualify the fact that it’s the style of interview that leaves me exasperated, not necessarily the fact that CH–for all of her pros–is increasingly bugging the ever-loving shit out of me. But I’m getting excited over the return of Mad Men, I’m not made of stone!

    I wish Elisabeth Moss wasn’t a Scientologist. *sigh*

    If publications and journalists could get past this ‘on a scale of perfect to perfection, how much better than humans are you?’ preoccupation, maybe they’d be able to produce something worth reading.

    Thanks, Barbara W.
    From, The World

    Actually, I’d be interested to know if any people who work in journalism–not even necessarily dealing with this kind of material–feel this way as well, or if I’m off the mark about something that isn’t in my field.

  16. original kate says:

    nothing corpsey about her – she looks creamy-skinned, soft, healthy and elegant, unlike most of the anorexic, stringy, orange streaked messes that hollywood calls “beautiful.” and that teal color is amazing on her!

  17. OC lady says:

    In regards to her comment, I think the catty comments about your looks can only hurt you if your self-worth is based on looks. I know in the superficial world of Hollywood, it’s hard to not fall into that trap. She should find other avenues of self-worth (develop her talent, etc) and remind herself that beauty is always fleeting.

  18. kim says:

    Wow she is really affected and and egomanic trying so hard to sound like she isnt. Christina your career choice perpetuates those tabloids devoted to shredding people. If you dont like them a)chose another career b) dont pose for tabloid/red carpet photos and c) cover up your hideous plastic boobs that you flaunt for ATTENTION.

  19. Emily says:

    @OC Lady: “I think the catty comments about your looks can only hurt you if your self-worth is based on looks.”
    So if someone came up to you and told you that your outfit didn’t fit you and you needed different makeup, you’d be completely okay with that? Anyone would get upset by constantly having their appearance critiqued!

  20. original kate says:

    “cover up your hideous plastic boobs that you flaunt for ATTENTION”

    her boobs certainly look real to me – and i can usually tell a boob job from a mile away. anyone know for sure?

  21. Zelda says:

    I am SO sick of this woman talking about her body and bodies in general.

  22. OC lady says:

    @Emily. Well, she said it “hurt her soul,” so I think it goes a bit further than the typical hurt you might normally feel. And, I’ve actually had people say things about my appearance. I’m very tall and skinny–people would call me “Olive Oyl” “skinny minny,” etc. I couldn’t stop people from calling me names, but I could change my attitude in how I dealt w/it. So, looks-based insults stopped hurting as much.

  23. Jeri says:

    I like her on & off the show!