Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inspirations for Body Confidence

As part of my efforts to perceive myself more positively, I am exploring my inspirations for body confidence.  Given my love of movies, I often turn to actresses as role models for empowerment, independence, and sensuality.  

Setting a feminist discussion aside on the impact of emphasizing and valuing women's bodies, the leading ladies I look up to are rare exceptions in Hollywood. They display healthy bodies (no sticks here!), routinely play roles about strong women, and take a public stance about their looks.

These women are gorgeous not because they conform to some standard of beauty, but because they radiate confidence and that is beautiful in any culture. 

Kate Winslet

First of all, ridiculously talented - love all of her movies.  Second of all, 5'6" and averages a size 8!  There shouldn't need to be an exclaimation point with that sentence, but Hollywood does love its waifs.  This woman glows with a confidence that a Keira Knightly-type must envy as she eats her one grape for the day.

Kate's been quite vocal over the years about her weight and giving the Establishment a very British middle finger about her curves.  Back in 2003, she raised hell with GQ magazine because they airbrushed her so ridiculously. 

Favorite quote: "I wanted women to be able to look at my character and say, 'Oh, that could be me.' Not perfect or starved or any of those things, but like someone who has had a child — and, once you've had children, your body changes forever. For good." 

Meryl Streep

This woman can do no wrong.  She is a living icon and classy through and through.

I love this photo of her.  She is the epitome of joyful.  Don't you just want to sit down with her and chat over a glass of wine?

This is a woman over 60 who has embraced her age to the fullest.  She was never a hot young thing on the red carpet - her first major role was close to 30!  Now she's off playing characters like Julia Childs, Margaret Thatcher, and still acting in rom-coms.  The Hours is one of my favorites.  

What I love about her is that through all of these years, she has kept the focus on her body of work, not her figure.  It's never about how she looks, but how she acts.

Favorite activism: campaigning for a National Women's History museum in D.C.   

Angelina Jolie

I've been a Jolie fan for years.  She is undoubtedly a star who's occasionally allowed to have good acting roles.  At least her movies have one thing in common: she always portrays a powerful woman. 

I admit that Angelina's become too thin as of recent, but who am I to criticize?  I admire that she has been fuller in the past, never been bashful about her sexuality, and she has always displayed self-assurance.

Perhaps that's why I chose this picture of her.  I love the one of the left.  There's something very powerful and intimate about that big smile with her eyes closed, like she's laughing at a joke.  

Favorite project: her first directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey.  The story is set in war-torn Bosnia in the 90s.  Jolie had only Bosnians for the actors and ran the script by the Ministry of Culture.  I haven't seen the film (doubtful it will come to our area), but women directors are few and far between. 

Helen Mirren

Much like her younger counterpart in Kate, Dame Helen has a long history of playing interesting and brave roles.  Hollywood may have only discovered her recently, but she's no stranger to acting. 

Her performance in The Queen was riveting, her character is hilarious in Red and Calendar Girls is most excellent.  I haven't caught some of her recent movies, but I certainly want to check out The Debt, Love Ranch, The Tempest, and The Door (when it comes out).

Mirren may have been nominated for Body of the Year at age 66, but it's her intellgence that I admire.  A smart woman is sexy and this silver-haired lady is a minx.  I especially admire that she embraces her age and hasn't pursued the Fountain of Youth with Botox and surgery.

Favorite quote about being childless by choice: "It's not that I don't love children. They are funny, and I just love them, but I never wanted to have them. I really tried to want it at one point … I thought maybe I should. But I never convinced myself.  I think still it is very fine not to want children.  There are far too many people in the world.  It is my contribution to ecology."

Christina Hendricks

Admittedly, I've never watched a single episode of Mad Men.  But for the brief moments she appears in Life As We Know It and from what I can see of the trailer I Don't Know How She Does It (Christina being the only reason to see that movie), Hendricks is engaging all on her own.

Sure she's a throwback to a different era in Hollywood.  If you've ever seen her in lingerie (Google "Christina Hendricks" + "New York magazine cover"), you'll be be bowled over.  

But this is a woman who revels in being happy and healthy.  She's a big believer in exercise, vitamins, and everything in moderation.  She has a pretty groovy self-care routine of knitting, baths, and sleeping in.   

Favorite quote: "Be nice to yourself!  We all need to look in the mirror and see the things that are beautiful in ourselves, and to remind ourselves of what those things are." 

Who do you admire for their body confidence?

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