The appetizing female

March 15, 1998|By Julia Gorin

I'VE been tempted toward bulimia many times. That's because, like many other women, I take my cues from Hollywood. But with Kate Winslet in "Titanic," Hollywood is finally giving a beauty with an imperfect body a prominent role -- a romantic lead. And now she has been nominated for a best actress Oscar.

But poor Kate! Just when she thought she was making the movie that would catapult her to stardom's greatest heights, all that people could talk about was how fat she looked.

Review after review of "Titanic" was consumed by rantings of the zaftig redhead's moon-pie face and ballooning curves.

To wit, Barbara Shuglasser of the San Francisco Examiner wrote: "Winslet ballooned by about 15 pounds from her last scene. For most of the movie, her head is so bloated that no amount of tricky camera angles can make her doughy face look interesting. There is nary a cheekbone on which a clever cinematographer could cast a mysterious lighting effect."

Blubbery talk

All this talk of blubber and cheekbones overshadows young Ms. Winslet's performance, which didn't get more than a half-sentence mention from any reviewer save for Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who agreed that "winsome" Leonardo DiCaprio blew her away. Perhaps they were so busy watching Mr. DiCaprio's every facial twitch that they forgot to look at Ms. Winslet's stunning performance.

"Why Kate Winslet?" Larry King asked a stunned James Cameron, the film's director. "She's not drop-dead gorgeous."

Never mind Ms. Winslet's statuesque beauty and classic porcelain-doll features. Never mind that her costumes, recently auctioned off, ranged no further than size 6 to 8. Apparently, anything that isn't the size 0 industry standard is substandard.

Are we expecting such cookie-cutter perfection from our movie stars that we are incapable of detecting beauty through an extra pound? Ms. Winslet could gain another 25 pounds and still be exquisite. If anything, she was pleasantly plump in scenes -- far from unpleasing to the eye. In the packed movie house where I saw the film, all eyes seemed peeled for the Winslet scenes.

Hurrah for Hollywood

In this contradictory state of affairs, Hollywood deserves congratulations. Tinseltown is usually pushing unwholesome good looks to a viewing public that has been conditioned to accept Michelle Pfeiffer's bony tush as the norm.

But some reviewers think we want the other Kate -- waif Kate Moss -- back. The good news is: Not everybody is falling for it.

Surprisingly, with the Internet as their forum, teen-agers wrote in from all over the country in defense of the appetizing Kate.

On a Kate Winslet chat page, Eric J. Henwood-Greer wrote, "For the record, I am a going-on 17 male from Pennsylvania who thinks Kate Winslet is damn good looking, and the Kate Moss VTC rave of the '90s irritates me. What do people nowadays think is 'normal'?"

Thank God the country is raising an aesthetically smarter generation, with real people who can recognize real beauty when they see it. And may they enjoy all the milkshakes their little hearts desire.

Julia Gorin, a stand-up comic, wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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