Elizabeth Taylor's Bodaciousness

Slate's Culture Blog
April 4 2011 1:01 PM

Elizabeth Taylor's Bodaciousness

Over at the BostonGlobe , Wesley Morris has a fascinating essay on, as he tweeted , "ElizabethTaylor and the end of Hollywood bodaciousness ." It makes for an excellentcompanion piece to the obituary by ourown Dana Stevens , who hailed Taylor as "the most fleshly of actresses."

Hollywood once had "lots of movie stars built like Taylor,"Morris notes "full-figured, untoned, and uninhibited." (His pantheon ofpulchritude includes Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, BrigitteBardot, Catherine Deneuve , and JaneRussell.) But at some point the fulcrum being Jane Fonda themovie industry became decidedly less va-va-va-voom and infinitely lesscorporeal:

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[Time] has shown that the Taylormodel has been unsustainable. It's Audrey Hepburn's physical slightness thathas endured, as well as the vestal restraint it promoted. Just looking at whatmakes its way down the red carpet now, flesh has given way to bone, sin hasgiven way to purity. Increasingly, we are no longer watching women at themovies. We're watching weight. The goal of many careers now appears to be thepromotion of fitness as a sort of talent.

Bodaciousness isn't totally dead, of course; Morris notesthat the "world's biggest movie stars," like Angelina Jolie, "are long with acomic hint of voluptuousness." (I love his description of Aishwarya Rai's "planetaryeyes.") But as evidenced by our endless fascination with Christina Hendricks' hourglassfigure , it's a niche product these days.

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Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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