How 'Sex and the City' Helped Me Love My Body

What Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda have taught us about accepting ourselves

With Sex and the City 2 hitting theaters today, chances are you’ve got plans to catch the flick with a few girlfriends -- and, if you’re smart, you’ll be sneaking in a Nalgene bottle-full of cosmopolitan. Even if you’re not, I’m willing to bet you’ve watched at least one episode of the monster hit -– enough to know the show revolves around four NY women looking for love, happiness, career success and seriously daring shoes.

But in the process of taking us along on Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda’s personal and professional rollercoasters, SATC has also taught us about loving our bodies in its own creative way. Beyond the show, the actresses themselves have been through their own ups and downs -– Sarah Jessica Parker is consistently and undeservedly attacked for her unconventional beauty; Kristin Davis recently told Fitness magazine that with age has come a growing acceptance for her body. Scripted or not, they always seem to come out on top. Here are a few of our favorite body image lessons, courtesy of SATC:

Models make EVERYONE feel like crap
 In "Models and Mortals" (Season 1),  Carrie’s voiceover tells us "There's nothing like raising the subject of models among four single women to spice up an otherwise dull Tuesday night." After dogging on these "giraffes with big breasts" for encouraging a culture that promotes impossible standards of beauty (Charlotte: "They have this distant, sexy look." Miranda: "That’s not sexy, that’s starvation."), the following convo ensues:

CHARLOTTE: "You know, no matter how good I feel about myself, if I see Christy Turlington, I just wanna give up. "

MIRANDA: "I just wanna force feed her lard, but that’s the difference between you and me."

CARRIE: "What are you talking about? Look at you two, you're beautiful."

CHARLOTTE: "Ooooh I hate my thighs."

MIRANDA: "Oh, come on.

CHARLOTTE: "I can't even open a magazine without thinking 'Thighs, thighs, thighs.'"

MIRANDA: "Well I'll take your thighs and raise you a chin."

CARRIE: "I'll take you a chin and raise you a … (points at nose)."

(All look at Samantha expectantly)

SAMANTHA: "What?"

CARRIE: "Come on."

SAMANTHA: "I happen to love the way I look. "

MIRANDA: "You should. You paid enough for it." ( Miranda, Carrie and Charlotte all laugh)

SAMANTHA:"Hey, I resent that. I do not believe in plastic surgery. Well, not yet."

CARRIE: (Voice-Over) "Suddenly, I was interested. If models could cause otherwise rational individuals to crumble in their presence, exactly how powerful was beauty?"

Chances are, other women think you’re hot, even if you don’t
In "Attack Of The Five Foot Ten Woman" (Season 3), Carrie becomes upset when she and Charlotte visit a hot restaurant know for their deserts and she (Charlotte) only orders a fruit cup. Charlotte reiterates how much she hates her thighs, and Carrie explains that the problem isn't in her thighs, it's in her mind.

Carrie then whips out a pricey new pair of shoes procured for an upcoming luncheon…during which she’ll be running into her ex’s current love, a 25-year-old model (Natasha).  Charlotte tells Carrie that she can wear a paper sack and she’ll still be the most fabulous woman in attendance. Carrie’s response sounds alarmingly similar to something my therapist might say: "Wow! Why can't you do that for yourself?"

Later that afternoon, Charlotte is feeling empowered by her conversation with Carrie. In the locker room at her gym, she bravely sheds her towel in the steam room – something she had been unable to do before. Within moments, a fellow steamer says, "I'd kill for your breasts." Charlotte smiles…as did I.

Even beautiful actresses get tripped up by their looks
In May, Kristin Davis said in a magazine interview that the series has boosted her confidence and shored up her body image.  She told Red magazine, "'You get a lot of criticism out in the world or on the internet about how you look. 'Fat here, fat there. Hippy this, hippy that. That has been my entire career." Thankfully, she says, nobody at SATC has ever asked her to lose weight. She also told BettyConfidential.com that her self-esteem has shifted and changed –- for the better -– as she’s aged:  "I remember in my twenties when I would go in for auditions and I’d be competing with tall, thin, gorgeous model, I’d just sit there in my seat next to them thinking, 'Why am I here?', but with age comes wisdom and I eventually realized I have hips and curves and I’m never going to be the thinnest actress — and I don’t want to be. Once I started excepting (sic) my body in my thirties, that’s when my career really took off. I think when you’re at peace with yourself, you’re automatically going to be more confident, and that shows." (You can also check Davis out in Fitness magazine, whom she told last month, "I have hips! I’m never going to be the thinnest actress, and I don’t want to be. When you’re at peace with yourself and your body, you’re automatically more confident.") 

“The SJP Divide”
Women tend to fawn over Sarah Jessica Parker. Her hair! Her clothes! Her fabulous style! But men…not so much? The charming actress, who some have affectionately referred to as jolie laide ("ugly beautiful") is consistently bashed for her looks by men. Entire websites are dedicated to it, practically making it a sport. I don’t understand this.

Some theories purport that it has to do with the fact that she dresses for her fashionista self, not for men. Sadie at jezebel.com thinks part of is a result of men becoming angry that we women continue to adore her despite the fact that they have collectively deemed her unattractive: "In a sense, we are defying them, creating a new ideal of sexiness that has nothing to do with male gratification… If we disagree about what is fundamentally sexy, this becomes threatening, because the subtext of all sexiness is male attraction. To women, Sarah Jessica Parker is the actress who has shown women can be attractive without being conventionally 'pretty'. To men, this distinction doesn't exist."

PLUS:
-11 reasons you might be a Samantha
-14 reasons you might be a Carrie
-11 reasons you might be a Miranda
-11 reasons you might be a Charlotte
-VIDEO: SJP reveals her favorite Carrie hook-up
-VIDEO: Kim Cattrall talks about why she's nothing like Sam Jones
-VIDEO: Kristen Davis shares why soulmates make her gag
-VIDEO: What Cynthia Nixon hates to admit about motherhood

Do you think SATC is positive for women's body image? What's your favorite episode from the series? And are you planning on catching SATC2 this weekend? Chime in below.
 

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