On “New Girl,” Cece is a woman who says what she means. And Hannah Simone, the actor who plays her, doesn’t mince words, either—especially not in a recent interview, when she’s very clear about unacceptable terms for her body type.
“Curvy is just a polite way of saying fat. And I’m not,” Simone notes in excerpts of an interview attributed to the April issue of the Canadian women’s magazine Glow, as picked up around the web. “Curvy and voluptuous—that one also got dragged through the mud, that poor word. It really just means a woman with breasts. [But] I’m confident with my body.”
Simone, the 32-year-old former model and current co-star of “New Girl” alongside Zooey Deschanel, also talks about feeling grateful to the show’s creator and executive producer Liz Meriwether.
“I remember thanking Liz, and saying, ‘You’ve no idea what you’ve done, that you’ve put this Indian actress in this visible role, where it’s not about her ethnicity,’” she told Glow, adding, “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a comedic actress. There is this demand for smart, funny, attractive women.”
Simone, who has occasionally been called “curvy,” “shapely” and “curvaceous” (but more often “sexy” and “stunning”) in articles and blogs, is not the first to object to being referred to with euphemisms for “fat.”
“Mad Men” star Christina Hedricks made headlines in October when she stopped an Australian fashion editor mid-interview after being asked on camera, “You have been an inspiration as a full-figured woman. What is the most inspiring story that you can remember where you've inspired someone?” After the interviewer rephrased the question, not changing the phrase “full-figured,” Hendricks seemed exasperated, telling her, “I mean, you said it again.”
Later, the actor reportedly said, “I think calling me full-figured is just rude.”
Such terms have been exceedingly popular lately, being used to call out celebs like Kate Upton, Lena Dunham, Christina Aguilera, Kate Winslet and Lady Gaga for not fitting the super-skinny Hollywood mold. While the descriptions have sometimes been congratulatory, employed to thank women for being real-looking role models to young women everywhere, they’re more often underhanded compliments—or even straight-up put-downs—used to undermine a not-quite-skinny-enough beauty.
“Have we gotten so riven by self-hatred in this country that even Kate Upton’s body can still be subjected to this nastiest and most personal of public critiques?” asked Jezebel in a July post that took the website SkinnyGossip to task for calling Upton fat. “Upton is basically the epitome of curvy, blonde beauty as it’s valued in the U.S. today. Hers is a look that ticks every box.…She's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition, she's been in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, she’s been the face of Guess…Her body is ‘perfect’ — by every conventional standard. If Kate f---ing Upton’s thighs are not immune from public dissection, then who is?”
Still, it’s refreshing to see celebrity women with bodies that resemble our own and our best friends’ way more than those of a runway model—and therefore hard, sometimes, for media types (yes, even us) not to mention.
As Hello Giggles (which happens to be a website cofounded by Deschanel) noted recently in a piece about why Lena Dunham’s body does, unfortunately, matter: “Sad as it is, we’ve been socialized to expect our lead actresses, our cover models, our skincare spokeswomen, to fit a certain cookie-cutter mold. We may not approve of it or even like it, but there is an undeniable body-type norm that exists in Hollywood. Seeing someone unapologetically step outside of it, and more importantly, refrain from making it the center of every interview or storyline, is refreshing, but sort of heartbreaking. Why in the world should it be so strange to see real life reflected in entertainment?”
And that, we agree, is a very good question.
Still, is it time to give the curvy-zaftig-shapely adjectives a rest? Probably. Because it would be nice, after all, if women who fit those descriptions could simply be seen for what they are: normal.