‘Sex and the City’ and Body Image

Photo from scene in SATC2, Warner Brothers

By Valerie Kusler

With the recent release of second ‘Sex and the City’ movie, the Web is abuzz with commentary on everything from the poorly Photoshopped movie poster to longtime fans coming to the defense of the movie that has been largely trashed by critics. The sequel’s release has also fostered new discussions on what the popular franchise — and its colorful characters — stand for, and how it has affected its millions of dedicated viewers over the years.

A recent article by Leslie Goldman of iVillage has sparked our interest. Goldman brings to light a less common perspective: How the ladies from ‘Sex and the City’ actually helped her become more accepting of her body. She provides a few specific examples in her article where Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte have taken turns helping each other remember the beauty of their own bodies. Of course, you can find 100 other articles arguing that these actresses fall exactly in line with the Hollywood thin ideal and are not at all representative of the bodies of average middle-aged women — and it’s certainly true. The actresses in ‘Sex and the City’ are not body image role models, but here at Adios Barbie, we like to examine both sides of the issue, and we appreciate Goldman’s refreshing point of view. After all, most of us still have days where body confidence is a struggle. Carrie and company are a welcome reminder that we all have the power to be that encouraging voice to our friends, helping them realize — as Charlotte did when she told an anxious Carrie that she could wear a paper sack and still be the most fabulous woman at the party — that we are all beautiful and deserve to feel that way.

Read the full article at iVillage and let us know what you think. Despite the images and valid arguments to the contrary, has ‘Sex and the City’ ever made you feel more confident in your skin?

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11 thoughts on “‘Sex and the City’ and Body Image

  1. While I’ve always been a fan of the series and the lovely Sarah J. Parker herself, I’ve had mixed feelings on the show’s messages on body images. Carrie is constantly supporting her friends on whatever they choose to do with their bodies. Whether they’ve decided to lose their baby weight or come to embrace their curves, all the girls are right behind each other. This is something I’ve always loved and taken away from the show, however it’s hard for me to listen to women talk about accepting their bodies when they fit right into the skinny girl norm, even the “curvier” characters of SATC are always on the thin side.

  2. Thanks everyone for your comments! Rebecca, I definitely agree with several points you make — especially the frustration over seeing traditionally beautiful and thin actresses say they are “ok with their imperfections.” I would like to see more of what you’re saying — women, famous and not, who can say “I LIKE my bigger nose” or “I’m proud of my hips!” It’s always especially frustrating when it seems to be coming from a woman who many would consider IS perfect– but as Cherry points out, it’s impossible to gauge a person’s body confidence by how WE see them.

    Good discussion!

  3. Yes! Thank you for sharing the less common perspective here about the show. SATC reminded women of a number of important things: surround yourself with a community of other women, one can survive and live a happy life without children, it is possible to be ‘unsettled’ in life while still seeking to live it fully and women over 30 can be fully and completely in charge and in touch with their own sexuality. I know there’s a lot to say against the show but I have no problems considering myself both a feminist and a faithful viewer of SATC.

  4. Leslie G. of ivillage makes some good points. I think what’s the most interesting, that I tend to forget, is how hard actresses and models can be on themselves and their bodies and yet we hold them up as the standard. I wonder if anyone is completely satisfied with the way they look naturally. Cherry

  5. I believe it isn’t so much about their body image but the attitude and trivial life they live. They are a good example of what women should be and more so in this day and age. I am a big fan of this movie and so there…

  6. I have mixed feelings about this one. I have seen some positive examples from the SATC women re: their body image, but also some very average ones too. The comments about Samantha’s weight gain in the last movie comes to mind as being pretty woeful. To say they are ‘role models’ – I agree is taking things too far.

  7. I’m just going to start by saying here, that I don’t, in general, like much of the furore and vitriol that has surrounded SATC. There’s far more damaging stuff out there in the ‘guilty pleasure’ film arena, and just because a show is ‘made for women’ doesn’t mean that it has a responsibility to support positive body image in a way that ‘men’s’ films do not. Society and culture has a responsibility, regardless of its target audience.

    Although I understand that SATC has some positive attributes in encouraging women to feel good about themselves and their bodies – such as the renforcement of the importance of friendship and support from other women as opposed to approval from men (it was a woman who told Charlotte how amazing her boobs were for example) – I also feel that the examples given in the article show that women can learn to love their bodies *despite* their flaws, not because of them. How about the realisation that actually, the standard of beauty presented to us is b******s and isn’t even worth consideration? I’d like to see Kristin Davis look not at being at peace with an imperfect body, but being happy with a body that is, infact perfect.

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