Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Drstaceyny's Movie Review: The Devil Wears Prada (in a Size 2, of Course)
I didn’t read the book, so the movie was my entry to the weight-obsessed consciousness of the fashion world portrayed here. It seems that one of the major plot lines involves Anne Hathaway’s (Andrea’s) weight. She is, at the story’s outset, a Size 6, which in industry terms is decidedly “fat,” as Meryl Streep’s character, Miranda Priestly, so ungraciously informs her. Early on, we learn the truth about models’ sizes—that a Size 2 is the new 4, and a 0, the new 2. Andrea’s size is equated with her matronly cabled sweaters, her sensible shoes, and her wide-eyed naïveté about clothing and the fashion world she encounters. Luckily for Andrea (and for audiences, who, by our very nature, pull for a happy ending), she encounters Dolce and Gabbana, becomes intimate with Chanel, and drops to a Size 4 before the credits roll. Phew. . .
Interestingly, the movie’s sub-text on weight doesn’t focus on Ms. Hathaway, but rather on Emily Blunt, who plays Ms. Priestly’s first assistant, Emily. In an interview with Liz Smith*, Ms. Blunt reported she had to drop weight in order to secure the roll. How much weight? During her interview with Ms. Smith, Ms. Blunt reported:
“I can eat now. . . You know, Prada was the only movie I’ve ever done where they wanted me to lose weight. I went in, and this woman asked, “How much do you weigh?’ And I told her and she made a face. And then she said, ‘You have to get in shape.’ And I said, ‘Well, really, I think I am in shape.’ She shook her head like, ‘poor thing.’ So I had to ask, ‘Look, just how thin do you want me?’ And she said, ‘On-the-edge-of-sickness thin.’ So, I figured, ‘Great, I’ll call you from the emergency room.’"
So, here’s a movie (whose audience, by the way, was filled with young girls) that glorifies sickly thinness and shuns a Size 6 as “fat.” In a country where the average woman wears a Size 14, what messages are we sending (and receiving)? Why are Andrea’s talents as an assistant (a job, for which, she’s overqualified) directly proportionate to her size? And, did Ms. Blunt actually drop the requested weight, and if so, did she endanger her health in order to play this part? At one point in the film, Emily's character cries, "I'm just one stomach flu from my goal weight!" Another fine example of art imitating life. . .
*sent in by a dear reader