One of the photos on the cover– I think it might have been the cover of People magazine caught my eye. My immediate thought was, "So this is the recent flap about Britney Spears? She looks voluptuous." I mentioned it in passing to the checker, who was obviously fresh on the graveyard shift. The look on her face was a mixture of disbelief and disgust. (Obviously, she was not aware that some odd folks like me will strike up a conversation or two.)
"You like that?"
It just went downhill from there.
Here's one of the media photographs (cropped a little bit)– judge for yourself:
Spears reportedly said she "looked like a fat pig." How about "I'm still skinnier than Marilyn Monroe was"? Indeed, the sex symbol of yore is now too fat for the American public.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I really think she's been trapped by the machine– the Hollywood machine. She's one of the graduates of the Mousekeeter Club, although I think she's been targeted because unlike Justin, Christina, and a few others, she had a child… and didn't handle it well, or at least the way the public expects.
She seemed to be set up as the classic celebrity ingenue– the girlie girl who is very nice, but has a naughty side. She was in sharp contrast to her immediate colleague Christina Aguilera, who attempted to shatter that mold but suddenly realized that the public might soon crush her as a scamp. No, Spears was seemingly pure, but available as the male fantasy of the woman you could probably take home to Mom without too many problems.
She got married, had a child, and got divorced. I figure some people perceived that as threatening. How dare they take away their fantasy! To make matters worse, I think some started dredging up wholesome expectations reminiscent of her Disney past– and she failed– miserably. "Oops, I Did It Again"? Dropped her baby. Drove with her baby in her lap. So she swung like a pendulum. Shaved her head (so sexy hair is gone). Then she starts clubhopping with another Disney grad, Lindsey Lohan, but also with the bubble-headed socialite everyone loves to hate (and maybe secretly envy), Paris Hilton.
The last part I think is justifably criticized– Britney chose the family life, but decided to revolt against it, living like a single woman– but not a single mom. But do I care whether she's wearing underwear or not? Nope.
Some writers have said the public loves to prop celebrities up to tear them down later. I don't think it's as simple as that. I think the public starts tearing them down when they see they've been deceived, or find out that they no longer fit the image they were initially given. For example, Martha Stewart is a shrewd businesswoman, but she cannot be considered The Everymom Homemaker/Gracious Hostess in a strict regard. Harrison Ford is not Indiana Jones or Han Solo in private– he's actually very soft-spoken and somewhat reserved.
Sadly, I think this is leveled more at women celebrities than male ones. Disdain for irresponsible moms, I can understand. But the dysfunctional idea that moms cannot be sexy, especially the ones that are measured against traditional standards, I don't understand. Full-figured changed from ample curves to 'fat', supposedly. That, I believe, is wrong.