Over at the Southwest Review, there's a fascinating essay by Daniel Harris, "Celebrity Bodies," that delves into some of the psychosexualcultural reasons why so many famous women want to be so thin. It's the kind of essay where, when you think about it, you don't really have any idea whether what he's saying can be verified as "true" in any meaningful sense, but it doesn't end up mattering too much because the writing is so original and fresh and clean. After going through a brief listing of some of our more dessicated celebs, Harris writes:
Few men are aroused by these stylishly accessorized carcasses, but their lack of sex appeal is what makes the new Hollywood aesthetic unique. It has been almost entirely detached from the biological function of beauty, that of attracting males. It is a man-made aesthetic, or, rather, a woman-made aesthetic, since the desire of men for voluptuous childbearing hips and pendulous breasts seems all but irrelevant to its look. Feminists have long complained that the so-called “beauty myth” consists entirely of male lust, of men looking at women as potential sex objects, subservient to their selfish demands. In fact, however, Hollywood is about women looking at women, not as sex objects, as a means for fulfilling the species’s genetic mission, but as clothes hangers, as display mannequins for product lines. Men and their needs are entirely beside the point, which is why the aesthetic is so sterile, so sexless, because it has freed the female body from male desire, liberated it from its biological status as an organ of sex, which has given way to the commercial view of it as a wearer of commodities, a pretty face stuck on a stick. In many respects, the recent marriage of anorexia and glamour represents the final dehumanization of women who were once reduced to their bodies, objectified as tools for propagation, but have now been deprived of their corporeality altogether. A vision of the female body dictated by male desire would be far healthier and more attractive than one dictated by the imperatives of the closet, by manufacturers whose primary concern is showing off their goods to best effect.
I don't think Harris is trying to let men off the hook for our various sins in saying that we're "entirely beside the point" in the glamourizing of such thin-ness, but he does remind us that there's a certain amount of lazy thinking involved in just attributing to men and sexism, in an uncomplicated way, all of the ills of our society that have some kind of gendered aspect (which is to say that we're probably at fault, because everything's our fault, but if so, we're at fault in a complicated way).
I'd also like to note, on behalf of men, that it's clearly true that the healthy, athletic, curvy Kate Bosworth, who you may remember from such films as Blue Crush, was much hotter than the weird gelfling Kate Bosworth shown here.