It's the news that millions of men around the world will dread hearing.
Christina Hendricks, the sexy 39D-30-39 redhead who plays Joan Holloway in the hit show Mad Men, apparently plans to lose some 12 kilograms to fit in more with the Hollywood mainstream. She is supposedly tired of being the "curviest woman in Hollywood", which she takes as code for "fat". Hendricks is at the very top of my list of female celebs to interview for her iconic Joan character — and co-star Jon Hamm for his role as Don Draper — so I regard this as a personal tragedy and a completely unnecessary caving in.
She's stunning as she is, a veritable Venus.
But she isn't the first celeb to feel the pressure to be thin and she won't be the last.
Take Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Scruffy, bearded, hefty, he was a genuinely unorthodox character among Tinseltown's thin, gym-obsessed brigade, proof that an obese man could make it in Hollywood. So there was a sense of betrayal when, along with his Oscars and box office fame for the Lord of the Rings movies, Jackson went on a diet and sharpened up his wardrobe. Some of his fans who resembled Jackson in former physique and dress sense felt betrayed by Jackson's transformation, from pot-bellied hobbit to slender chic elf. Expressions like "sell-out" soon followed.
And, most recently, MasterChef's Matt Preston says he's lost 10 kilograms, but his rotund figure is as much a part of his persona as weird cravats and pretentious food. You're a supersized meal, Matt — the nation might not love a smaller portion of you.
Every time a formerly overweight celeb does shed the pounds and keeps them off, there is a legion of fans that feel betrayed. What do they think they are doing, changing the look that we have grown to love them for? I can't watch the new, slender Mikey Robins on Good News Week without feeling dismayed. What happened to the good-natured, fun-loving (and clearly food-loving) former radio star who didn't seem to care about the fact he was carrying a few extra kilos? Was his whole anti-fashion bohemian persona a sham? Did he aspire to become one of the thin, cruel, beautiful people? Could I now invite Mikey to a barbecue for some charred meat and a few beers? Would he insist on drinking a slimmer's shake and eat an egg white omelete instead? Would he stand there, judging me . . . with his eyes?
I regard his slimmer figure as a betrayal of his contract as a jolly fat man. You sold yourself to us this way, Mikey. Now I can't trust you. Now I cast you out from among us, unbeliever. You can sit over in the corner eating tofu burgers with Kim Beazley and Barry O'Farrell, who tried to trick our eyes and the electorate by losing weight. You are the Members of Corpulence, good sirs — we didn't elect you on a dietary ticket.
Knocked Up star Seth Rogen was another rotund funny man who went thin when fame beckoned. I loved your previous persona, Seth, the pudgy dope-smoking slacker . . . why have you forsaken me and millions of others? Why did you go "Hollywood"? We didn't expect you to look and act like Jerry Seinfeld — Jim Belushi was just fine. Or even Jim Candy. Hey, Jeff Garlin, we know you best as Larry David's fat pal from Curb Your Enthusiasm . . . but it looks like you've lost some weight there. Your scripts read "Larry David's fat pal from Curb Your Enthusiasm" - so watch yourself. Remember how we shunned Mikey Robins. And Beazley.
And did Julia Morris suddenly become less funny when she weighed less? Did her self-deprecating jokes begin to ring hollow? Did the laughs fall away as her waistline did? She's no longer one of us — perhaps she's secretly laughing at us? And is Magda Szubanski not as amusing now she's thinner? Yes. There — I've said it.
Model Sophie Dahl "betrayed" us by giving up her career as a plus-size model by shedding the pounds. Kelly Osbourne, basking in Ozzy Osbourne's reflected fame, is now thin . . . and no longer one of us, Kelly. Begone.
Why do people like Oprah? Partly because she is one of us. She battles with her weight. And her ratings tend to go down when she's thin. We want a curvy, accepting Oprah — not a skinny, judgmental one.
Being overweight is an unhealthy proposition, true. But we have more than enough slender Apollonian, unapproachable, god-like celebs whose beauty intimidates us, who we worship rather than relate to. The average person doesn't need any more of them. We need the self-deprecating Hitchcock who uses the shadow of his belly to entertain us. We need the corpulent Marlon Brando to play Don Corleone in The Godfather or Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Val Kilmer is still talented with his gut, and Steven Seagal still untalented with his. We want to remember Meat Loaf as resembling his name, and Barry White as a whale-like love god. We want Seinfeld's George (Jason Alexander) to keep his "powerful, stocky" physique. A skinny Kathy Bates smashing James Caan's legs with a hammer in Misery just wouldn't have been as good. The Sopranos never would have been a hit if James Galdofini's Tony Soprano hadn't been a man of belly and appetities.
Christina — please consider what you're doing. We love you just the way you are. Come back to us. Please.
Charles Purcell is a Fairfax writer.